"For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open."- Jesus Christ OLPC-One Laptop Per Child worldwide initiative MIT Media Lab: $100 Laptop
|To achieve this goal, a new, non-profit association, One Laptop per Child (OLPC), has been created.|
These laptops are not yet in production and are not for sale.
> Frequently Asked Questions
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|FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Nicholas Negroponte, founding chairman of MIT's Media Laboratory, answers questions on the initiative.|
What is the $100 Laptop, really?
The proposed $100 machine will be a Linux-based, with a dual-mode display—both a full-color, transmissive DVD mode, and a second display option that is black and white reflective and sunlight-readable at 3X the resolution. The laptop will have a 500MHz processor and 128MB of DRAM, with 500MB of Flash memory; it will not have a hard disk, but it will have four USB ports. The laptops will have wireless broadband that, among other things, allows them to work as a mesh network; each laptop will be able to talk to its nearest neighbors, creating an ad hoc, local area network. The laptops will use innovative power (including wind-up) and will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data.
Why do children in developing nations need laptops?
Laptops are both a window and a tool: a window into the world and a tool with which to think. They are a wonderful way for all children to "learn learning" through independent interaction and exploration.
Why not a desktop computer, or—even better—a recycled desktop machine?
Desktops are cheaper, but mobility is important, especially with regard to taking the computer home at night. Kids in the developing world need the newest technology, especially really rugged hardware and innovative software. Recent work with schools in Maine has shown the huge value of using a laptop across all of one's studies, as well as for play. Bringing the laptop home engages the family. In one Cambodian village where we have been working, there is no electricity, thus the laptop is, among other things, the brightest light source in the home.
Finally, regarding recycled machines: if we estimate 100 million available used desktops, and each one requires only one hour of human attention to refurbish, reload, and handle, that is forty-five thousand work years. Thus, while we definitely encourage the recycling of used computers, it is not the solution for One Laptop per Child.
How is it possible to get the cost so low?
- First, by dramatically lowering the cost of the display. The first-generation machine will have a novel, dual-mode display that represents improvements to the LCD displays commonly found in inexpensive DVD players. These displays can be used in high-resolution black and white in bright sunlight—all at a cost of approximately $35.
- Second, we will get the fat out of the systems. Today's laptops have become obese. Two-thirds of their software is used to manage the other third, which mostly does the same functions nine different ways.
- Third, we will market the laptops in very large numbers (millions), directly to ministries of education, which can distribute them like textbooks.
One does not think of community pencils—kids have their own. They are tools to think with, sufficiently inexpensive to be used for work and play, drawing, writing, and mathematics. A computer can be the same, but far more powerful. Furthermore, there are many reasons it is important for a child to "own" something—like a football, doll, or book—not the least of which being that these belongings will be well-maintained through love and care.
What about connectivity? Aren't telecommunications services expensive in the developing world?
When these machines pop out of the box, they will make a mesh network of their own, peer-to-peer. This is something initially developed at MIT and the Media Lab. We are also exploring ways to connect them to the backbone of the Internet at very low cost.
What can a $1000 laptop do that the $100 version can't?
Not much. The plan is for the $100 Laptop to do almost everything. What it will not do is store a massive amount of data.
How will these be marketed?
The laptops will be sold to governments and issued to children by schools on a basis of "one laptop per child." Initial discussions have been held with China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Egypt, Nigeria, and Thailand. An additional, modest allocation of machines will be used to seed developer communities in a number of other countries. A commercial version of the machine will be explored in parallel.
When do you anticipate these laptops reaching the market? What do you see as the biggest hurdles?
Our preliminary schedule is to have units ready for shipment by the end of 2006 or early 2007. Manufacturing will begin when 5 to 10 million machines have been ordered and paid for in advance.
The biggest hurdle will be manufacturing 100 million of anything. This is not just a supply-chain problem, but also a design problem. The scale is daunting, but I find myself amazed at what some companies are proposing to us. It feels as though at least half the problems are being solved by mere resolve.
Who is the original design manufacturer (ODM) of the $100 laptop?
Quanta Computer Inc. of Taiwan has been chosen as the original design manufacturer (ODM) for the $100 laptop project. The decision was made after the board reviewed bids from several possible manufacturing companies.
Quanta Computer Inc. was founded in 1988 in Taiwan. With over US $10 billion in sales, Quanta is the world's largest manufacturer of laptop PCs; the company also manufactures mobile phones, LCD TVs, and servers and storage products. In addition, Quanta recently opened a new US $200 million R&D center, Quanta R&D Complex (QRDC), in Taiwan. The facility, which opened in Q3 of 2005, has 2.2 million square feet of floor space, and a capacity to house up to 7,000 engineers.
How will this initiative be structured?
The $100 laptop is being developed by One Laptop per Child (OLPC), a Delaware-based, non-profit organization created by faculty members from the MIT Media Lab to design, manufacture, and distribute laptops that are sufficiently inexpensive to provide every child in the world access to knowledge and modern forms of education. OLPC is based on "constructionist" theories of learning pioneered by Seymour Papert and later Alan Kay, as well as the principles expressed in Nicholas Negroponte's book Being Digital. The founding corporate members are Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Brightstar, Google, News Corporation, Nortel, and Red Hat.
OLPC is funding research at the Media Lab focused on developing the $100 Laptop.
Nicholas Negroponte is chairman of One Laptop per Child and Mary Lou Jepsen serves as chief technology officer. Other principals involved in developing the $100 Laptop are: Walter Bender, Michail Bletsas, V. Michael Bove, Jr., David Cavallo, Benjamin Mako Hill, Joseph Jacobson, Alan Kay, Tod Machover, Seymour Papert, Mitchel Resnick, and Ted Selker.
Design Continuum is collaborating on the laptop design.
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