A novel plan to develop a $100 laptop computer for distribution to millions of schoolchildren in developing countries has caught the interest of governments and the attention of computer-industry heavyweights.
Although no contracts with governments have been signed, Mr. Negroponte says current plans call for producing five to ten million units beginning in late 2006 or early 2007, with tens of millions more a year later. Five companies — Google Inc., Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Red Hat Inc., News Corp. and Brightstar Corp. — have each provided $2 million to fund a nonprofit organization called One Laptop Per Child that was set up to oversee the project. Mr. Negroponte says five companies are bidding to make the laptop, although he declined to name them.
Mr. Negroponte remains eager to place the laptop in the hands of 100 to 150 million students. He says he has learned in educational projects in Cambodia and other developing countries that computers spur children to learn and explore outside the boundaries of a classroom, and share their discoveries with their families. “I do not think of them only in classrooms, but part of an integrated and seamless experience for kids and their families,” he says.