The $100 laptop

The One Laptop per Child project aims to put a laptop computer within reach of far more children than today.

One of the architects of the project, Media Lab’s Nicholas Negroponte, said that:

It’s an education project, not a laptop project.

When it was begun, the project seemed extremely fanciful but at the Reboot conference in Copenhagen one of the prototype $100 laptops was demo’ed.

It wasn’t the fastest laptop I have ever seen but it worked and in the photo below you can see it browsing the BBC’s website.

$100 laptop

This will be a fantastic move forward when these laptops finally are delivered. However, several obstacles remain. Ireland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and I can’t see our government committing to spend $100 to but a laptop for every child in the country. If Ireland wouldn’t do this for her children, what hope have the children of poorer countries?

Then, where do kids in poorer countries get electricity and Internet access, even if they do somehow get enough money to buy a laptop?

I’m sure I’m not the first to ask these questions and there may even be plans in place to address them. I certainly hope so or this plan will fail at the first hurdle.

9 thoughts on “The $100 laptop”

  1. > Then, where do kids in poorer countries get electricity and Internet access, even if they do somehow get enough money to buy a laptop?

    Solar power is one alternative. I have heard about hand / bicycle powered power sources / generators used in villages.

    Internet access will be useful but not necessary to use the laptop. Also nowadays internet access is almost ubiquitous with wireless access points. It will be relatively easy to setup cheap network of wireless access points.

  2. One of the most basic and integral aspects of the laptop is that it is self-powering in that there will be a winder or foot peddle to power the devices (I’m not sure what this model has but I was following development and these were the main power options)

    As for internet connectivity that is not really such a high priority initially. The laptops come with a special version of wikipedia selected for accurary, relevancy and on a range of topics. Also, the laptops are wireless so callaboration between them in classes and between peers will be a major focus.

    After that, there are many companies who would jump at the opportunity to provide a wireless/wired internet network in these areas if the need was there and, of course the funds.

  3. where do kids in poorer countries get electricity

    Maybe that’s why it has a built-in generator with a pull string. And the system is designed to build a adhoc grid network linking any of the computers in the grid access to the internet through any single node that does have interet access.

    But as for the Irish government spending ANY money on computers for schools you are dead on.

  4. Tom,

    Have a look at some of the figures for foreign aid. $100 per child is actually a relatively small amount of money in this context.

    Clearly internet access is an issue… but have you seen the figures for mobile penetration in Africa. They are suprisingly high. So there is a potential to piggy back on this infrastructure.

    Finally, in the UK the government spends roughly £14k per child per year. I have no doubt that we could reallocate $100 or find another $100 if needed. I’d be suprised if Ireland is that different.

    BTW thanks for the podcasts. Keep up the great work.


  5. I’m delighted to see that most of my concerns have been already addressed (power and internet access) – *note to self* do more reading around before posting Tom!

    I still think funding will be an issue though. I can see in poorer countries that maybe there might be funding for one laptop per school (which would bring them up to roughly the standard available currently in Ireland!) but one laptop per child won’t happen unless someone comes in to fund it. Hello Bill?

    Then there’s the running costs of mobile internet access to be paid…

  6. I was wondering if these are ever going to be on sale to the public… I heard on 60 MIN. that they will be but that you have to buy two one for you and the other for a child in another country. which my mom agreeded to.I really wanted my own laptop but everything was to expensive, when i heard about this I got really excited!!!! I was just wondering if you had a date planned out on when you’re going to sell them to the public. I also wanted to coment on the program. I tought it was a really cool idea. I’ve always wanted to make a diffrence in the world. Something that would really change peoples lives so far I haven’t come up with anything, but I’ll keep looking for a good idea. I don’t know, mabye I’ll join the peace core, or explore the unexplored regions, or mabye find a cure to cancer or some other illness. You guys have really inspired me and probaly many others aswell. k. d.

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