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Flayed God X

World's first $100 laptop

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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."

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Guest imported_b0b

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.

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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.

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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?

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Guest imported_b0b

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.

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Nicholas Negroponte, founding chairman of MIT's Media Laboratory, answers questions on the initiative.

 

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

What is the $100 Laptop, really?

The proposed $100 machine will be a Linux-based, full-color, full-screen laptop that will use innovative power (including wind-up) and will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data. This rugged laptop will be WiFi-enabled and have USB ports galore. Its current specifications are: 500MHz, 1GB, 1 Megapixel.

 

Why do children in developing nations need laptops?

Laptops are both a window and a tool: a window into the world and a tool with which to think. They are a wonderful way for all children to "learn learning" through independent interaction and exploration.

 

Why not a desktop computer, or—even better—a recycled desktop machine?

Desktops are cheaper, but mobility is important, especially with regard to taking the computer home at night. Kids in the developing world need the newest technology, especially really rugged hardware and innovative software. Recent work with schools in Maine has shown the huge value of using a laptop across all of one's studies, as well as for play. Bringing the laptop home engages the family. In one Cambodian village where we have been working, there is no electricity, thus the laptop is, among other things, the brightest light source in the home.

 

Finally, regarding recycled machines: if we estimate 100 million available used desktops, and each one requires only one hour of human attention to refurbish, reload, and handle, that is forty-five thousand work years. Thus, while we definitely encourage the recycling of used computers, it is not the solution for One Laptop per Child.

 

How is it possible to get the cost so low?

 

First, by dramatically lowering the cost of the display. The first-generation machine will have a novel, dual-mode display that represents improvements to the LCD displays commonly found in inexpensive DVD players. These displays can be used in high-resolution black and white in bright sunlight—all at a cost of approximately $35.

Second, we will get the fat out of the systems. Today's laptops have become obese. Two-thirds of their software is used to manage the other third, which mostly does the same functions nine different ways.

Third, we will market the laptops in very large numbers (millions), directly to ministries of education, which can distribute them like textbooks.

Why is it important for each child to have a computer? What's wrong with community-access centers?

One does not think of community pencils—kids have their own. They are tools to think with, sufficiently inexpensive to be used for work and play, drawing, writing, and mathematics. A computer can be the same, but far more powerful. Furthermore, there are many reasons it is important for a child to "own" something—like a football, doll, or book—not the least of which being that these belongings will be well-maintained through love and care.

 

What about connectivity? Aren't telecommunications services expensive in the developing world?

When these machines pop out of the box, they will make a mesh network of their own, peer-to-peer. This is something initially developed at MIT and the Media Lab. We are also exploring ways to connect them to the backbone of the Internet at very low cost.

 

What can a $1000 laptop do that the $100 version can't?

Not much. The plan is for the $100 Laptop to do almost everything. What it will not do is store a massive amount of data.

 

How will these be marketed?

The idea is to distribute the machines through those ministries of education willing to adopt a policy of "One Laptop per Child." Initial discussions have been held with China, Brazil, Thailand, and Egypt. Additional countries will be selected for beta testing. Initial orders will be limited to a minimum of one million units (with appropriate financing).

 

When do you anticipate these laptops reaching the market? What do you see as the biggest hurdles?

Our preliminary schedule is to have units ready for shipment by the end of 2006 or early 2007. Manufacturing will begin when 5 to 10 million machines have been ordered and paid for in advance.

 

The biggest hurdle will be manufacturing 100 million of anything. This is not just a supply-chain problem, but also a design problem. The scale is daunting, but I find myself amazed at what some companies are proposing to us. It feels as though at least half the problems are being solved by mere resolve.

 

How will this initiative be structured?

The $100 laptop is being developed by One Laptop per Child (OLPC), an independent, non-profit association based on the "constructionist" theories of learning pioneered by Seymour Papert and later Alan Kay. It is totally separate from MIT, with its own board, executives, location, and staff. Its founding members are AMD, Brightstar, Google, News Corporation, and Red Hat, all of whom have funded both OLPC and the MIT Media Lab.

 

OLPC is funding research at the Media Lab focused on developing the $100 Laptop.

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Guest imported_b0b
Originally posted by dowmagik@Nov 22 2005, 05:02 PM

looks very rad, and even more profitable. what distro does it currently run on? or is it literally custom?

custom redhat I believe, but very custom.

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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.

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Originally posted by ODS-1@Nov 22 2005, 06:17 PM

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.

 

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.

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Originally posted by ODS-1@Nov 22 2005, 09:35 AM

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?

:haha:

 

From here after every post involving the word crank has turned into a hilarious innuendo.

 

Thank you

 

 

 

Oh and the laptop is hot.

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oh shit, 12oz is gonna get more international..

 

i can't wait till we get our first member who posts from the iCrank

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Maybe all you 12 ouncers that spend all day on here can finally get some excersize!

(Although I spend my share of time on the comp)

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Think of the arm workout you'd get from this, especially if you d/l porn it be like double time cranking.

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