November 16, 2005 1:55 PM PST

$100 laptop expected in late 2006

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TUNIS, Tunisia--A hand-cranked laptop that will cost roughly $100 is expected to be in the hands of schoolchildren in poorer countries by late 2006.

MIT Media Lab Chairman Nicholas Negroponte said at a United Nations Internet summit here that his nonprofit organization was negotiating with manufacturers and would have an initial order placed by February or March. Thailand and Brazil are among the six governments that have showed the strongest interest, Negroponte said.

The final design, shown for the first time here, incorporates a low-power display designed by project engineer Mary Lou Jepsen that's designed to run for up to 40 minutes in black-and-white mode with 1 minute of cranking.

The case color is a combination of a lime green and a yellow hue reminiscent of No. 2 pencils. "It was the hardest decision," said Negroponte, who runs the One Laptop Per Child nonprofit group that's organizing the effort. "We wanted to use color because it's a message of playfulness."

"This is truly a moving experience," said U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who showed up at the beginning of the event here. "It's also a moving expression of global solidarity and corporate citizenship."

In principle, the project seems simple: Design a laptop with built-in wireless and minimal power consumption, find manufacturers willing to build it for about $100, convince governments to buy it in quantities of at least 1 million as an initial order, and give it to schoolchildren to keep as their own property. (The goal is tens of millions produced and distributed within two years.)

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MIT's $100 laptop
MIT has a plan for getting $100 laptops in the hands of millions.

But negotiating with governments has proved to be strenuous--Negroponte called it "very hard"--and the price quotes to build the machine remain closer to $110 than $100. "We're not even going to promise they're $100," he said. "They may be $115. What we're promising is that the price will float down."

Another worry is what happens to the laptops after they're handed gratis to students with families that are struggling to survive. The average Nigerian, for instance, makes $1,000 a year--so a family would have a strong incentive to sell the laptop because they need the money.

"One of the things you want to do is make sure there's no secondary market," Negroponte said. He said one solution would be to make sure "the machine will be disabled if it doesn't log in to the network for a few days."

The proposed design of the machines calls for a 500MHz processor, 1GB of memory and a unique dual-mode display that can be used in full-color mode, or in a black-and-white sunlight-readable mode. It's not clear yet how much cranking will be needed for the higher-power color mode.

It's expected to run an open-source operating system, probably Linux, Negroponte said, rather than a closed-source product from Apple Computer or Microsoft. Companies including Google, Advanced Micro Devices, News Corp. and Red Hat have donated to the project.

22 comments

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1GB memory?
"1GB of memory"..

Is that 1GB of RAM? or is that like a flash based chip to replace the HDD? Because I don't see a point of having a lot of RAM with 500mhz CPU.
__________________________________
R.K.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.Remove-All-Spyware.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.Remove-All-Spyware.com/</a>
Posted by Roman12 (214 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Replacement
The 1 GB of memory is meant to replace the Hard Drive. One of the
main things said so far about the $100 laptop when referring to
downfalls has been it's lack of storage space, although that's
unlikely to be a huge problem as these computers have not been
designed to be high end multimedia platforms.
Posted by cdnjay (21 comments )
Link Flag
RAM
According to previous statements, the device will have 128 MB of conventional RAM. The 1GB Flash memory is like a hard drive, like the Flash Memory seen in the iPod shuffle and nano.
Posted by Wilch (4 comments )
Link Flag
hardware cost doesnt impede the net anymore.....
I feel ripped off!!

I remember what a Mac Plus and a modem cost... what impedes the net today? electricity?

oh... yah.. ok.. whatever...
Posted by (47 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Infrastructure
It would be interesting to see how they handle the local infrastructure that will be required for the children to actually benifit from these $100.00 plus computers?
Posted by c4gibson (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good Idea If...
...these things are lots better/cheaper than textbooks/teachers.

Otherwise they're probably just a government funded way to play games and surf porn.
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Kids and Computing
Anytime that any goverment or community as a whole ( Open Source Linux ) want to get involved in helping children of all backgrounds experience Computing and the Internet, I say go for it! Give every child a chance to open their minds is a winning scenerio. Goverments have been sponoring book programs forever. $100 laptops will be the book of the future.

Mike
ReviewLinux.Com
Posted by reviewlinux (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
One Laptop Per Child
Why not One Laptop Per Child right here in the USA? There are thousands of poor kids in this country, who do not have daily access to a computer, especially not in right their homes.

They are in families who have barely enough money to keep the electricity on in their homes and feed the kids, so they could definitely benefit from a hand-cranked laptop. And many are in rural areas where there still is no cell phone service, let alone WiFi access.

I don't argue that every child on the planet should learn computer skills, but I disagree that overseas children are somehow more disadvantaged than the poverty-level children here in the US. I was always taught that charity should begin at home, which I take to mean take care of your local community first, then expand your project (sort of like ripples in a pond).
Posted by trinda.weaver (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Agreed
We can do a WHOLE LOT more for children in the USA....I agree that things need to be done for unfortunate overseas children, but let's increase the amount of WI-FI access here in the USA with computer access for each school child in the US. Where WI-FI is concerned, I think in this one instance New Orleans is heading in the right direction.

Why doesn't someone look for corporate and government sponsorship here. It may help the interest of US inner city and poor children towards education in a technology or perhaps math and the sciences (which we so desparately need here in the US). The same technology basis could be used for printers that are so cheap now, to be setup for this "crank up" style.

Bill Gates and other big money makers have in the past donated new computers to help out schools with outdated or no computers and bought some pretty nice systems. Corporations sometimes donate old computers to schools. Let's get everyone on the same page, get a few companies involved with building these systems, have them "made in the USA", and go from there.

I quite frankly am tired of doing work for governments and people outside of the US when so many of our people are left hanging by the wayside. Come on AMERICA......
Posted by (1 comment )
Link Flag
The dream is alive!
Those of us working in educational technology have
always dreamed of a powerful children's computer,
affordable enough for every child on the planet to have
one. It's never been closer to reality than now. And it is
so important that the power of child-programmability be
preserved (Papert and Kay will see to that), a "must-
have feature" unfortunately lost in so many uses of
computers in schools. We should all get behind this
effort! Sincerely, Mark
Mark L. Miller, Ph.D., President and Executive Director
The Miller Institute for Learning with Technology
A 501(c)(3) California Nonprofit Public Benefit
Corporation
"Helping people use technology more effectively for
learning"
751 Laurel Street #411, San Carlos, CA 94070-3113
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.learningtech.org/" target="_newWindow">http://www.learningtech.org/</a>
Tel: 650-598-0105 Fax: 866-801-8667
Posted by mlmiller (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MIT Laptop More Liberal Anti-Americanism
Everyone will think what a wonderful idea this is. Well it is NOT. The folks at MIT will use our TAX PAYER DOLLARS to develop, pay for and distribute these but they will not make these available to poor US KIDS. What about a LAPTOP in the hand of every American Kid. What about US economic competitiveness. I would expect this from a Univeristy in the Anti-American state of John Kerry and Ted Kennedy.
Posted by pmk (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
World View
A non-profit has been set up with sponsors who have sponsored the costs of develop these computers. The governments of developing countries will pay for the computers for their children. The states (within the United States) will pay for their children - Massachusetts has already pledged over $50 million for this project.
Posted by Susanhorn (1 comment )
Link Flag
Get a grip
"What about a LAPTOP in the hand of every American Kid."

Umm, libraries. Those American kids have libraries -- where they can go to get on the internet and learn abount the world. But countries like Nigeria don't have libraries like we do. The vast majority of the people there don't even have electricity. Hence the hand cranks. The people at MIT are just trying to bring a little bit of the modern world to people who have never experienced it.

And as for "US economic competitiveness," umm... yeah, I'm sure Nigeria and Brazil will be usurping our top global position real soon.
Posted by OlympicTorch (1 comment )
Link Flag
Sad
American children are not the only children in the world. Quit being so American-centric and think outside of the box. There is a world outside of America, you're just to sheltered to realize it.
Posted by bukaroo12 (7 comments )
Link Flag
A U.S. state is anti-American?
Jeez, even people from the I've Got Mine Now Gimme Yours school of capitalism ought to recognize that being associated with a program designed to help poor people achieve better lives for their children can only help the United States. We all do live in the world, after all. Even anti-American states like, well, all the "Blue" states I presume. So about the growing majority of Americans, wherever they live, who don't buy into the kind of thinking that leads to calling entire U.S. states "anti-American" - are they all anti-American too?

It's so outlandish... I've just been trolled, havent I? Can't believe I fell for that nonsense.
Posted by RetiredInMexico (12 comments )
Link Flag
Pathetic
Your way of thinking is sad and pathetic. There is nothing anti-American about this project, MIT, Massachusetts, or liberals. I'm sure you would have objected to the Marshall Plan after WWII, giving millions in aid to rebuild Europe. Anyone can argue against helping other nations when there is always some project in the US that can use better funding. Why not get upset about the $13 billion in US aid to Egypt and Israel every year for example? I'm sure most of that money is used to purchase weapons. What about the billion a day the US is spending in Iraq?
I doubt that your precious tax payer dollar is funding the work at MIT. This is a UN initiative and the countries that receive the laptops will be paying for them. If you want these laptops in the hands of every American child than be prepared to pay higher taxes to cover the cost- they are not being handed out free!
Helping other people in the world is clearly in the interests of the United States. Some would say that because of our fortunate position in the world that we should feel obligated to do so. A policy of selfish nationalism would only fuel the growing anti-American sentiments around the world.
Your attack on Massachusetts and it's politicians as anti-American is absurd. Even though you live in a less fortunate state run by less accomplished men I won't impugn your patriotism.
Posted by zanzzz (138 comments )
Link Flag
Lime green/yellow makes it look like a toy
The childish color scheme - lime green with a big yellow handle - is a bad choice because it plays into Intel's hands. Intel wants to sell more of its overpriced chips, so it doesn't like this initiative. And it will bad-mouth it any way it can. Look for Intel to try to position the $100 computer as a worthless toy that cannot compare with a "real" (i.e. Intel based) computer.
Posted by observer 2178 (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why Intel?
Looks like a child-friendly design to me, and that's appropriate. The thing isn't targeted for corporte executive desks. Trust MIT to come up with a practical hand-cranked computer, heh.

What does the project have to do with Intel? Seems to me if AMD contributed to the project, and Windows was rejected as the O/S for cost reasons, the processor is probably at least Intel-compatible. At 500 MHz it isn't too far behind the curve, either. Does anyone know what company is will make the processor?
Posted by RetiredInMexico (12 comments )
Link Flag
The US Should Stop Wasting Away Its Money
That's right! Never mind that the US contribution to poor countries went from 0.21% to 0.11% of its GDP from 1990 to 2001... I'm sure that the amount of cash has increased. This may look small compared to the 30%+ spent on national defense, but that precisely shows the US can't afford giving away a lot.

Oh PLEASE! Wake up to the fact that spreading good living standards and access to education and information (in addition to freedom and democracy, of course) is one of the best and cheapest proactive, preventive measures against global instability. 20,000+ people starve to death each day and that is a real, full-fledged time bomb. Not that one laptop per child will immediately fix this, but it may be a minimal investment with outstanding returns in terms of security. (Ethical arguments are so out of fashion that I will avoid them.)

Cheap technology must be encouraged for America's sake, everywhere. It is about the only chance the world has (close to Bush's position on the environment). China had a 1000-fold increase of its population over just two centuries (this is documented), and the rest of the world must not be very far to this rate. Feeding all these people requires, therefore, a lot of technology, since technology actually allowed this population boom in the first place. It may not be "America's fault", but it can certainly have repercussions on America.

Just as an aside, even if the US were to pay entirely for the million units Negroponte is pushing for (which is NOT the case), this would reach the cost ($100,000,000, or a tenth of a billion dollars) of supporting the Iraqi intervention during about... one day at the early stages of the war. Comparatively, it does not sound like a huge waste on a potential benefit to US security. Heck, if you're already devoting 30.11% to national security, you can go wild and make it 30.12%.
Posted by megarzon (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
R U nuts?
Maybe, just MAYBE these goverments need to help their OWN people for once instead of putting all their money and their citizens money into military budgets or civil war crap and let food, housing, etc get to their people instead of stealing all the aid and giving it to who has what political or religious beliefs.

I fix cast-off computers in New Hampshire and give them away to low to poverity income families who can't afford them. There are more than I can supply in my area alone. I say charity begins at home. If home can't afford itself it certainly shouldn't be able to afford abroad!

Bill L.
Computer recycler in NH
Beware of the penguin
Posted by dev1in (13 comments )
Link Flag
Why not give out plumbing or electricity?
If these people would possibly sell the laptops for food, why not just give them food?

Oh, I forgot. The UN screwed THAT up a few times already. So instead of accountability, let's throw LAPTOPS at the problem?

Third-World countries could go without email and printing word documents. I'm sure they'd prefer living with less chance of disease.

The people need food, water, sanitation and the basics. I say spend $100.00 on TOILETS for the children, so they don't have to walk through waste to get to school.
Posted by fart-knocker (3 comments )
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