$100 Laptop

The Economist writes:

The idea is as audacious as it altruistic: provide a personal laptop computer to every schoolchildparticularly in the poorest parts of the world. The first step to making that happen is whittling the price down to $100. And that is the goal of a group of American techno-gurus led by Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of the fabled MIT Media Lab. When he unveiled the idea at the World Economic Forum in January it seemed wildly ambitious. But surprisingly, it is starting to become a reality. Mr Negroponte plans to display the first prototype in November at a UN summit. Five countriesChina, Brazil, Egypt, Thailand and South Africahave said they will buy over 1m units each. Production is due to start in late 2006.

How is the group, called One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), able to create a laptop so inexpensively? It is mainly a matter of cleverly combining existing technologies in new ways. The laptop will have a basic processor made by AMD, flash memory instead of a hard disk, will be powered by batteries or a hand-crank, and will run open-source software. The $100 laptop also puts all the components behind the screen, not under the keyboard, so there is no need for an expensive hinge. So far, OLPC has got the price down to around $130.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.