[via Niranjan] Jason Pontin writes:
Nicholas Negroponte, founder and chairman of MIT’s Media Lab, showed attendees the screen of the Hundred-Dollar Laptop, or HDL. Beginning in 2006, he said, he would build 100 million to 200 million HDLs every year–and distribute them to the children of the poor world. Many attendees had read about Negroponte’s idea and dismissed it as quixotic. Hearing how an HDL might be built, seeing a part of it, and realizing the scale of the project produced a rustle of delighted interest.
Negroponte recently wrote to me about what he hoped the HDL would do: “Education: one laptop per child. Whatever big problem you can imagine, from world peace to the environment to hunger to poverty, the solution always includes education. We need to depend more on peer-to-peer and self-driven learning. The laptop is one important means of doing that.”
Can a $100 computer be built? Maybe. Negroponte does not plan to use three expensive components of conventional laptops: Microsoft Windows, a traditional flat-panel screen, and a hard drive. Instead, the HDL will be loaded with Linux and other open-source software; its display will use either a rear-projection screen or a type of electronic ink invented at the MIT Media Lab; and it will store one gigabyte’s worth of files in flash memory.