One Laptop Per Child

By on September 29, 2005

Something interesting from the MIT Media Lab:

The MIT Media Lab has launched a new research initiative to develop a $100 laptop – a technology that could revolutionize how we educate the world’s children.

Here are the basic specs…

The proposed $100 machine will be a Linux-based, full-color, full-screen laptop that will use innovative power (including wind-up) and will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data. These rugged laptops will be WiFi- and cell phone-enabled, and have USB ports galore. Its current specifications are: 500MHz, 1GB, 1 Megapixel.


Organizationally, MIT will work with a small number of companies of complementary skills to develop a fully working and manufactured laptop (50,000 to 100,000 units) in fewer than 12 months, with an eye on building about 100 million to 200 million units by the following year. Five initial companies who have committed to this project are AMD, Brightstar, Google, News Corporation, and Red Hat.

This looks to be a very noble effort. I am guessing there was not a whole lot of arm-twisting need to get the above companies on board. Getting your product in front of a couple of hundred million future customers is definitely worth something.



  1. Any idea is as good as is. Wind-up radios have already been patented and sold to Republic of South Africa in a number of more than 100,000 units some years ago. Now wind-up laptops come. Why not. If manufactured in China can cost even $ 20.

  2. Here’s my thoughts regarding solar vs wind-up power assuming you can only choose one. Think about the user; Children. Winding something up is kinda fun, where as setting something out in the sun for a few hours may be boring. Also for a child, to leave something out in the sun to recharge might cause it to be forgotten and lost, or maybe even stolen. Also this will probably be used most inside in a classroom, or at night at home. Sometimes children forget to plan ahead for the day, and the laptop may be out of power when needed most. To be able to just wind the thing up and go is a great solution. All things being equal, I think the wind-up solution as in the specification is the best. Probably why it’s spec’d that way.

  3. Great technology, but I fear that this will be a huge boondoggle for developing country education budgets. The devil is in the details, and the details of distribution, training, and maintenance have not been addressed. The OLPC has limited international or educational experience

    As a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, I can say with some confidence that this technology will be wasted unless skilled, trained and committed staff is deployed along with the laptops. Further, children with the most need (the ones who are typically the recipients of international aid) have needs more basic than those a laptop can help them with. Middle class kids in developing countries could definitely benefit from this technology, but then why expect governments to buy them? Go with a for profit business model, and sell for $120 each.

    There are also issues of cultural imperialism if the OCPL controls the content (I don’t know that they are – this is just a concern). The content needs to be developed locally, but that creates a chicken / egg issue.

  4. I find myself asking the question of what software, what cultural perspective, what content filtering, etc. will be included in these computers. It’s a question that I believe is complex to answer, but important to address in an open forum because of the potential impact of the computers due to the scale of the undertaking.

  5. I think that everyone needs computers and its a great thought but I think we need to take care of our country instead of others. We’re so caught up in other peoples business that we can’t even take care of ourselves. Also are these people that we’re giving computers to even computer literate?

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