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World's first $100 laptop

Discussion in 'Channel Zero' started by Flayed God X, Nov 22, 2005.

  1. Flayed God X

    Flayed God X Member

    Joined: Aug 9, 2004 Messages: 283 Likes Received: 0


    NEW YORK (FORTUNE) - Nick Negroponte would like to sell you a $100 laptop, especially if you're head of state in a large developing country.

    That's why he is at the World Summit on the Information Society, the giant UN-sponsored gathering that starts Wednesday in Tunis. Negroponte plans to show for the first time a working prototype of his new device, intended for hundreds of millions of mostly-poor students worldwide. The techies and government ministers in Tunis are his ideal target market.

    At the Media Lab at MIT, which Negroponte founded 20 years ago, researchers are working not only on the engineering to make such an inexpensive product possible, but on computer interfaces to enable kids to learn without teachers, and on a curriculum to teach them every sort of subject.

    Negroponte's message has a seductive simplicity. As he puts it in an interview: "One laptop per child: Children are your most precious resource, and they can do a lot of self-learning and peer-to-peer teaching. Bingo. End of story."

    He's seeking orders in lots of a million. So far, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva has agreed to buy a million, Negroponte says, and Chile, Argentina and Thailand are lining up. Negroponte hopes to start production next year, ramping up to tens of millions in 2007.

    The device is a stripped-down affair, with an electricity-generating crank and a swiveling seven-inch screen, for basic word-processing, Internet and communications. It has no hard drive, instead using flash memory like that in a digital camera. The processor, from AMD, runs at a pokey 500 megahertz.

    Each laptop will include a Wi-Fi radio transmitter designed to knit machines into a wireless "mesh" so they can share a Net connection, passing it from one computer to the next. Though there is a power cord, that cool crank can provide roughly ten minutes of juice for each minute of turning.

    The key to chopping the price to $100: reducing the cost of the screen. Negroponte's chief technology officer Mary Lou Jepsen, who used to work at Intel, has invented a display she thinks could be built for $35 or less (compared with the typical $100 or more).

    Negroponte's nonprofit One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), which will distribute the device, has raised a total of $10 million, with more on the way. Says Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. contributed $2 million: "Nick's endeavor has the prospect of potentially transforming the lives of millions of children in the developing world." Google also chipped in $2 million.

    Even tech titans like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Michael Dell are talking to Negroponte about his plans. Jobs initially dismissed the laptop as a "science project" but is now contributing ideas. Dell had his staff vet the cost of the device's components. And Gates would like Negroponte to use Microsoft software rather than the free open-source alternatives that Negroponte currently favors.

    The impediments, needless to say, are numerous and daunting. "Most schools in the developing world don't even have textbooks," says Allen Hammond of the World Resources Institute. "How the heck are they going to pay for Internet access?"

    Even Hector Ruiz, CEO of AMD, which gave $2 million to OLPC, says success will require "developing larger ecosystems around ... tech support, application development, training and business models for the Internet service providers." Those elements aren't close to being in place, and Ruiz thinks the laptop's price won't drop to $100 for two to three years. Yet even skeptics are loath to pooh-pooh Negroponte's activism: "If he can pull it off," Hammond says, "my hat's off to him."

    Negroponte is currently talking to hardware companies about marketing a pricier version that will subsidize the nonprofit model. His stop in Tunis is just one on a long mission he seems unlikely to give up. "What if we fail?" he asks. "Failure means it's $142.07 and six months late. Failure doesn't mean it doesn't happen or it's a bad idea."
  2. JUDONO?

    JUDONO? Senior Member

    Joined: Jan 5, 2002 Messages: 1,935 Likes Received: 0
    thats an ugly ass laptop.
  3. imported_b0b

    imported_b0b Guest

    At the moment it is coming in at $110 and that is the "cost" price it will be sold to governments at. They reckon if/when a retail version will be made (the profits will go to subsidising the charity side of the operation) it will cost around $250. Also loads of controversy as Steve Jobs offered them OS X for it for no cost, but they are using a custom Linux instead. Obviously OS X is all nice and shiny and fun but it doesn't fit in with the objectives of the project. Tech wise it is a good laptop, made to be really rugged and they will be capable of making mesh networks. I'd buy one as long it wasn;t such a bright colour.
  4. Harvey Wallbanger

    Harvey Wallbanger Dirty Dozen Crew

    Joined: Oct 13, 2004 Messages: 8,567 Likes Received: 401
    This is a fucking incredible idea. If they are able to pull this off, the effect it could have on the world is unfathomable. As an American, I had a computer in the classroom from third grade on. But for a lot of kids in underdeveloped countries, they literally don't have books, pencils, or paper. They are learning in a room with fifty kids, a teacher, and a blackboard (if they're lucky). Bringing internet access and individual learning curriculums to these kids could spark a new age of enlightenment.

    Or at the very least, barefoot kids in Benin will be able to access porn beyond their wildest dreams. Either way, this guy deserves a Nobel prize.
  5. ODS-1

    ODS-1 Elite Member

    Joined: Jul 21, 2003 Messages: 3,575 Likes Received: 0
    How long does it last after you crank it for a while (no homo). If you forget to save something and you don't crank it soon enough do you lose your work?
  6. Harvey Wallbanger

    Harvey Wallbanger Dirty Dozen Crew

    Joined: Oct 13, 2004 Messages: 8,567 Likes Received: 401
    It said you get ten minutes off of 1 minute of cranking-- but it also has a plug.

    Good question about losing your work, though.
  7. imported_b0b

    imported_b0b Guest

    Stuff like the power failing/saving work the developers will take into account for sure. By making it open source software they are hoping to make 1000's of software developers out of those kids that recieve them.
  8. imported_b0b

    imported_b0b Guest

  9. imported_dowmagik

    imported_dowmagik Senior Member

    Joined: Apr 19, 2001 Messages: 1,904 Likes Received: 1
    looks very rad, and even more profitable. what distro does it currently run on? or is it literally custom?
  10. imported_b0b

    imported_b0b Guest

    custom redhat I believe, but very custom.
  11. gasfacevictm

    gasfacevictm 12oz Loyalist

    Joined: Jul 29, 2003 Messages: 10,415 Likes Received: 707
  12. ODS-1

    ODS-1 Elite Member

    Joined: Jul 21, 2003 Messages: 3,575 Likes Received: 0
    If you just have to crank for one minute, would it matter how fast you cranked? If you did it real fast for a minute would you get more power than if you did real slow?

    I know nobody on hear knows the answers, but I'm so intrigued.
  13. imported_b0b

    imported_b0b Guest

    Generally with those crank devices there is an opitmal speed and going faster thanthat doesn't help. For my torch and radio (that are both wind up) it is 3 turns a second, so going 5 turns a second doesn't make it charge any faster.
  14. Gunm

    Gunm Banned

    Joined: Aug 31, 2003 Messages: 12,427 Likes Received: 2
    think of all the waste that crappy thing will generate
  15. Kr430n5_666

    Kr430n5_666 Banned

    Joined: Oct 6, 2004 Messages: 19,229 Likes Received: 30