Design of $100 Laptop for Kids Unveiled
The $100 laptop computers that Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers want to get into the hands of the world's children would be durable, flexible and self-reliant.
The machines' AC adapter would double as a carrying strap, and a hand crank would power them when there's no electricity. They'd be foldable into more positions than traditional notebook PCs, and carried like slim lunchboxes.
For outdoor reading, their display would be able to shift from full color to glare-resistant black and white.
And surrounding it all, the laptops would have a rubber casing that closes tightly, because "they have to be absolutely indestructible," said Nicholas Negroponte, the MIT Media Lab leader who offered an update on the project Wednesday.
Negroponte hatched the $100 laptop idea after seeing children in a Cambodian village benefit from having notebook computers at school that they could also tote home to use on their own.
Those computers had been donated by a foundation run by Negroponte and his wife. He decided that for kids everywhere to benefit from the educational and communications powers of the Internet, someone would have to make laptops inexpensive enough for officials in developing countries to purchase en masse. At least that's Negroponte's plan.
Within a year, Negroponte expects his nonprofit One Laptop Per Child to get 5 million to 15 million of the machines in production, when children in Brazil, China, Egypt, Thailand, South Africa are due to begin getting them.
In the second year — when Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney hopes to start buying them for all 500,000 middle and high-school students in this state — Negroponte envisions 100 million to 150 million being made. （He boasts that these humble $100 notebooks would surpass the world's existing annual production of laptops, which is about 50 million.）