Thursday, November 17, 2005

MIT's $100 laptop for kids in developing countries

photo of $100 laptopMIT created a laptop for kids in developing countries that they're selling to governments and charitable donors for $100 a pop. The best part of the design (the form factor was designed by Design Continuum, based in West Newton, MA) is that it's powered by a hand-crank -- so simple, it's ingenious. It runs Linux (MIT turned down Steve Jobs's offer to donate OS X for the machines because OS X isn't open-source), and it's wi-fi enabled and can create mesh networks with other laptops. Nifty.
"The $100 laptop is inspiring in many respects", said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. "It is an impressive technical achievement, able to do almost everything that larger, more expensive computers can do. It holds the promise of major advances in economic and social development..."
Read the full Seattle Times article.
    From what I can tell, I'd buy one of these computers if I could. Maybe MIT could sell them retail for $200 a pop, so that each retail sale could pay for a whole donated computer. But more importantly, is this the kind of help that could help level the so-called digital divide between developing and developed countries, or is this the wrong way to spend charitable monies?