The Laptop Crusade – More on the $100 Laptop

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Date: Tuesday, August 15th, 2006, 10:30
Category: Gadget

100-dollar-notebook.jpg

For nearly a year, Béhar has been at work on the most visible and most controversial project of his career. His client, a nonprofit offshoot of the MIT Media Lab, had dreamed up a radical new computer. Depending on who you asked, it was either soon-to-be-legendary vaporware or a shortcut to modern education for tens of millions of poor kids around the world. The plan called for a garage full of experimental technology: radio antennas that network computers up to 10 miles apart without satellites or towers; a dual-mode display that switches to monochrome in bright light; a power scheme that lets the computer run indefinitely without an electrical outlet. But nothing worked together. Media Lab cofounder Nicholas Negroponte was looking for someone to puzzle together the technology – someone to make it bright and iconic, rainproof, dustproof, heatproof, drop-proof, spillproof, and intuitive to a Thai or Nigerian child who had never seen modern technology. Negroponte would offer the laptop to governments who would commit to buying at least a million computers each; it promised to outsell every other laptop in the world in just a few years. Oh, and one more thing: The machine would need to cost one-fifth the price of the cheapest laptop at Wal-Mart. The Media Lab dubbed the project One Laptop per Child, but everyone else knew it simply as “the $100 laptop.”

Wired 14.08: The Laptop Crusade

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100-dollar-notebook.jpg

For nearly a year, Béhar has been at work on the most visible and most controversial project of his career. His client, a nonprofit offshoot of the MIT Media Lab, had dreamed up a radical new computer. Depending on who you asked, it was either soon-to-be-legendary vaporware or a shortcut to modern education for tens of millions of poor kids around the world. The plan called for a garage full of experimental technology: radio antennas that network computers up to 10 miles apart without satellites or towers; a dual-mode display that switches to monochrome in bright light; a power scheme that lets the computer run indefinitely without an electrical outlet. But nothing worked together. Media Lab cofounder Nicholas Negroponte was looking for someone to puzzle together the technology – someone to make it bright and iconic, rainproof, dustproof, heatproof, drop-proof, spillproof, and intuitive to a Thai or Nigerian child who had never seen modern technology. Negroponte would offer the laptop to governments who would commit to buying at least a million computers each; it promised to outsell every other laptop in the world in just a few years. Oh, and one more thing: The machine would need to cost one-fifth the price of the cheapest laptop at Wal-Mart. The Media Lab dubbed the project One Laptop per Child, but everyone else knew it simply as “the $100 laptop.”

Wired 14.08: The Laptop Crusade

technorati tags:, ,

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