While a prototype isn't expected to be shown off until November, Negroponte unveiled blueprints at Technology Review magazine's Emerging Technologies conference at MIT.
Among the key specs: A 500-megahertz processor（that was fast in the 1990s but slow by today's standards）by Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and flash memory instead of a hard drive with moving parts. To save on software costs, the laptops would run the freely available Linux operating system instead of Windows.
The computers would be able to connect to Wi-Fi wireless networks and be part of "mesh" networks in which each laptop would relay data to and from other devices, reducing the need for expensive base stations. Plans call for the machines to have four USB ports for multimedia and data storage.
Perhaps the defining difference is the hand crank, though first-generation users would get no more than 10 minutes of juice from one minute of winding.
This certainly wouldn't be the first effort to bridge the world's so-called digital divide with inexpensive versions of fancy machinery. Other attempts have had a mixed record.
With those in mind, Negroponte says his team is addressing ways this project could be undermined.
For example, to keep the $100 laptops from being widely stolen or sold off in poor countries, he expects to make them so pervasive in schools and so distinctive in design that it would be "socially a stigma to be carrying one if you are not a student or a teacher." He compared it to filching a mail truck or taking something from a church: Everyone would know where it came from.