A group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers are trying to get computers into the hands of every kid. They feel children and students should not be held back by the financial burdens a computer may bring and are working to come up with an affordable option by creating $100 laptops.
Nicholas Negroponte, the MIT lab leader came up with the $100 laptop idea after visiting a Cambodian village and seeing how kids could benefit by having a notebook computer that kids could bring to school and tote home. He and his wife have started a non-profit foundation called One Laptop Per Child and in hopes of being able to get 5 to 15 million machines in the hands of children in Brazil, China, Egypt, Thailand, and South Africa. Also in a year Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney hopes to buy a laptop of all 500,000 middle and high-school students in the state.
The blueprints for the machines were unveiled at the Technology Review magazine’s Emerging Technologies conference at MIT. The machines will be extremely durable to withstand the rigor of a child’s life and experiences as well as energy efficient, with a hand crank that allows the users to create more energy when the batteries run out. The laptop is equipped with a 500-megahertz processor by Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) which is about the same swiftness of many handheld devices today and flash memory instead of a hard drive (like the new iPod Nano and other handheld music players). The machines will have 4 USB ports for data storage and multimedia use, as well as Wi-Fi wireless network capabilities. To help save on software costs the laptops will use the free version of Linux operating system rather then the more popular Microsoft products that are available.
Negroponte, worries of these machines being stolen from children and therefore wants to market them solely for kids in hopes of causing a negative social ripple to anyone that has one that in his mind should not. I see what Negroponte is trying to do however feel that inexpensive laptops are something everyone could use, not just students and children. Therefore, I do not think the effort should be so narrowly marketed. However, I really like the idea since I believe it is an excellent one.
Click the images in this post for an enlarged image of the laptop. For more information on the $100 laptop project go to the MIT $100 Laptop Website. Check out what the rest of the blogosphere is saying about the $100 laptop project by visiting The Barrel, All Things RSS, PCIN, Nishi’s Blogosphere, Treehuggers, Laptopical, and geekBlue. Additionally, check out the articles on washingtonpost.com and MSNBC.
Special thanks to KB for editing this post on Somewhat Frank.