Technology

The $100 Laptop

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Bring computing power to the third world and the shackles of poverty and desperation could begin to break under the weight of knowledge.

More from the Independent:

One man in Boston has a plan that he hopes will bridge the world’s gaping digital divide – and quickly. The visionary is Nicholas Negroponte, director of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his idea consists of a new kind of laptop computer that will cost just $100 (£57) to buy.

It will also be a little different in design from the sleek machines some of us in the west have learned to love or covet. It will be foldable in different ways, encased in bump-proof rubber and will include a hand-crank to give it power in those corners of the globe where electricity supply is patchy.

The first prototype of the machine should be ready by November and Mr Negroponte – who was one of the first prophets of the internet before most of us understood the word – hopes to put them into production next year.

In fact, he expects to churn out about 15 million of them within one year, shipping most of them at first to children in Brazil, Egypt, Thailand and South Africa.

Ahh yes, but couldn’t thugs just steal the laptops and sell them on the black market?

The answer is yes, however…

Mr Negroponte said that his laptops would be so distinctive in design and look that stealing and re-selling them would be akin to stealing furniture from a church. People would recognise where they come from. The look of the devices, he said yesterday, meant there would be “socially a stigma to be carrying one if you are not a student or a teacher”. Consequently, he imagines that no more than 2 per cent of the devices would fall into that murky “grey market”.

Of course it’s not perfect, but it’s a start. Bravo to Mr. Negroponte. He’s a true visionary and he understands that knowledge is indeed power.

Very cool stuff.

  • http://tomgrey.motime.com Tom Grey – Liberty Dad

    Great stuff. BBC just did a story on a $200 AMD powered computer, sort of like this one (but not hand cranked, and twice as expensive) — available already in S. Africa. Especially good for hooking up to the internet.