(This article was originally posted on blogger.com on Nov 21, 2005)
On January 2005, the MIT Media Lab officially launched a research initiative (headed by Nicholas Negroponte, chairman and founder of MIT’s Media Labs) to develop the $100 laptop – a technology that could revolutionize how the world’s children are educated. For this purpose, a non-profit association, called One Laptop per Child (OLPC), was created by Negroponte.
The laptop basically looks like a mutated version of ordinary machines, and uses an LCD display. Some of its current specifications are: 500 Mhz processor, 1GB flash-based memory, 1 Megapixel LCD screen. The laptop will be WiFi-enabled and have USB ports.
It has a removable keyboard and has an actual crank (!) to turn so it can be powered anywhere (see the RHS of the picture above; [Image courtesy of MIT Media Lab]). This lends credence to the “laptops around the world” ideal. It’s a brilliant idea for children in the developing countries, where there are not too many powerlines avaliable, but also for poor children in the Western world, such as in Massachusetts, USA .
However, one should take notice, that (according to the develolpers at the Media Lab):
… the $100 laptops—not yet in production—will not be available for sale. The laptops will only be distributed to schools directly through large government initiatives.
But surely, this will be good for competition not only in the educational market for computers. When the $100 laptop is released, most likely a powerful laptop (like an Apple iBook) could end up costing maybe $150. News about the $100 laptop can be found at Google News. A FAQ-list about the $100 laptop is here. More pictures of the $100 laptop can be found at the following page.
Such IT leapfrogging may not do much to help the very poorest of the poor, but for people in China, India, throughout Latin America and the more successful states in Africa, it can be incredibly valuable. Life-changing, for some and – perhaps – even world changing.