Many people in the IT Industry and beyond respect Nicholas Negroponte (chairman and co-founder of the MIT Media Laboratory) for his deep clarity on the power of “Bits” and “Digital” Technology. But for me, from the day I read his classic “Being Digital“, I have been curious on what this genius is up to now.
Couple of years back, he announced his dream of a “One Laptop per child“; To make it true was the idea of a sub $100 laptop. Everyone in the industry (including me) doubted whether this was ever possible – with Intel brushing it away even now. But alas, last month in the Tuniasia World Summit he unveiled it and also selected Quanta (Taiwan based World’s Largest Laptop Manufacturer) as the OEM.
The plan is to distribute several million of these laptops to underprivileged childrens in China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Egypt, Nigeria, and Thailand. The laptops will be Linux based, full-color LCD Display, 500MHz CPU, 128MB of DRAM, with 500MB of Flash memory, built-in wireless to find near by laptops ad-hoc. It will not have a hard disk, but it will have four USB ports. What I found as the most interesting feature was an innovative power – a manual wind-up (shown in yellow above). This is very important because the places it is being planned to be used are most backward areas where there is no power source and the laptop might even be the only light source during the night.
Using the laptops it is hoped that the children who before this couldn’t even afford paper textbooks – will now have access to all materials that they need to complete their education. All this with little or no further costs being spent by the local governments, after the first US$100 (for the laptop itself). A noble cause, hope it works and eradicates illeteracy in the world.