MIT has unveiled its $100 laptop
computer to the United Nations technology summit in Tunisia and said that it hopes to make millions of the devices to give to the developing countries of the world.
The devices are about the size of a text book, and will offer wireless
connectivity via a mesh network of their own creation allowing peer-to-peer ad
hoc communication, meaning that if one laptop is directly accessing the
Internet when other machines power on, they can share that single online
connection. in addition, they can operate in areas without a reliable
"The $100 laptop is inspiring in many respects", said UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan. "It is an impressive technical achievement, able to do almost
everything that larger, more expensive computers can do. It holds the promise
of major advances in economic and social development. But perhaps most
important is the true meaning of 'one laptop per child'. This is not just a
matter of giving a laptop to each child, as if bestowing on them some magical
charm. The magic lies within - within each child, within each scientist-,
scholar-, or just plain citizen-in-the-making. This initiative is meant to
bring it forth into the light of day".
The goal is to provide the machines free of charge to children in poor
countries who cannot afford computers of their own, said MIT Media Lab
chairman Nicholas Negroponte.
Governments or charitable donors will pay for the machines but children will
own them, he said.
"Ownership of the laptops is absolutely critical", he said. "Have you ever
washed a rented car?"
Brazil, Thailand, Egypt and Nigeria are candidates to receive the first wave
of laptops starting in February or March, and each will buy at least 1 million
units, he said.
The computers operate at 500 MHz, about half the processor speed of commercial
laptops, and will run on a "light" version of the open-source Linux operating
The computer uses a screen from a portable DVD player, which can be switched
from colour to black and white to make it easily viewable in bright sunlight,
said Mary Lou Jepsen, the project's chief technical officer.
MIT plans 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.