A $100 notebook? A global effort is underway to make it happen by next year.
It was a pipe dream only a few months ago, but soon it will be reality. An ambitious effort from MIT Media Labs (search) to put a $100 notebook in the hands of every child in the world is picking up big corporate partners, top engineering talent, and interest from several countries.
One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), a nonprofit venture, is expected to start distributing machines late next year and to produce 100 to 200 million machines in 2007.
AMD, Brightstar, Google, News Corporation, and Red Hat are backing the effort, and Brazil is likely to be a manufacturing center for the notebooks. OLPC (search) is initially targeting poor children in Brazil, China, Egypt, India, and Thailand, with ministries of education earmarked to purchase the machines for them.
So how do you produce a notebook that can sell for $100?
"We will get the fat out of the systems," MIT Media Labs chairman Nicholas Negroponte (search) said in a statement.
Researchers are working on adapting an under-$30 color LCD commonly found in inexpensive DVD players; it can be used in bright sunlight and at four times normal resolution.
The notebooks will run Linux (search), so the operating system will be free. The systems will have built-in Wi-Fi (search) and cellular technology and will likely have 500-MHz chips and 1GB of storage.
Because of lack of power in some areas, hand-cranking will be an option for power. The notebooks will also use mesh networking technology for peer-to-peer connectivity and sharing Internet connections.
"We are totally on track for 2006," says Javier Villamizar, a VP at Brightstar Corp., which is overseeing several aspects of laptop distribution. "We have identified a list of OEMs and contract manufacturers, and we are selecting from that list."
Being poor doesn't have to mean being disconnected.
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