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First Photos of MIT $100 Laptop 659

An anonymous reader noted that MITs $100 laptop was unveiled at the Seven Countries Task Force Meeting. It runs a special version of the Fedora linux and it comes with native wireless lan support. You can see the photo album, and you can pledge to buy one at triple price... in order to donate 2 of them to children.
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First Photos of MIT $100 Laptop

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  • by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @08:58AM (#15393226) Homepage Journal
    Awwwww, look at their little ears! I just wanna pet them!
  • These look great! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy ( 963289 ) * <> on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @08:59AM (#15393229) Homepage Journal
    The final photo [] in the set shows three different colours - they all look fantastic - this photo shows the fedora desktop []. Also looks great!

    It should be noted that the 'horns' are for directional wireless (and also cover USB ports when not in use) - remember that if you want to mock them!

    I say kudos to AMD, Brightstar, Google, News Corporation, Nortel, and Red Hat for making this possible. It's a pity Gates & Jobs couldn't join in rather then attempting to downplay the fine efforts of this group.
    • Re:These look great! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Evro ( 18923 )
      If you recall, Steve Jobs offered to license Mac OS X to this project for free and they refused.
      • If you recall, Steve Jobs offered to license Mac OS X to this project for free and they refused.

        I do recall. But frankly, that's about as much use as slap in the face with a medium sized trout. It was simply a distraction to:

        1) Make Jobs look good.
        2) Distract attention from red hat.

        Jobs wasn't nasty about it, they way Gates was, but to think that he was being helpful offering OS X is... well, lets just say a little bit of self deception would have to be involved.
      • If you recall, Steve Jobs offered to license Mac OS X to this project for free and they refused.

        Yeah, maybe the caveat that it required the purchase of a powermac G5 with widescreen monitor to qualify wasn't popular?
    • by stuntpope ( 19736 )
      Not just 3 different colors - 3 different models. The orange, light blue, and green ones shown all have physical differences []. So which one is the one to be produced? I vote for blue.
      • 4 colors (Score:5, Informative)

        by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @10:06AM (#15393716) Journal
        4 colors [] and 4 models if you look closely. Orange/red, Yellow/orange, blue and green. The models with orange are different in the plastic around the screen (one seems to lack speaker and leds)

        Green wins by the way. Not only does it miss the hump of the blue one but it got Neko ears instead of bunny ears. Neko for the win!

        • Re:4 colors (Score:3, Informative)

          by AnalystX ( 633807 )
          Wouldn't that make it five colors (Orange, Red, Yellow, Blue, Green) and four models if we were to be picky about it?
    • Re:These look great! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ( 782137 ) <joe&joe-baldwin,net> on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:18AM (#15393349) Homepage Journal
      It's a pity Gates & Jobs couldn't join in rather then attempting to downplay the fine efforts of this group.

      Gates maybe, but Jobs offered OS X free of charge but was turned down. He tried, they refused.
    • by tdemark ( 512406 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:19AM (#15393359) Homepage
      It's a pity Gates & Jobs couldn't join in rather then attempting to downplay the fine efforts of this group.

      Which Jobs are you talking about? The only one I am familiar with (Steve), offered free Mac OS X licenses to this group for all the laptops. His offer was declined []. You can argue all you want about his motives, but you really can't say that he "downplayed" anything.

      Gates, on the other hand, mocked [] the group's effort.
      • WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Gadzinka ( 256729 )
        The only one I am familiar with (Steve), offered free Mac OS X licenses to this group for all the laptops.

        Yeah, helluva donation... OS X is ready, paid for, so giving it away costs him nothing and serves only as a publicity stunt. Or free marketing, whatever you want to call it.

        And huge tax writeoff... Just sit one day and do the math: how much some software company makes "donating" their software to schools, government agencies etc. Because, giving away single license for a program that costs $100 while bo
    • Re:These look great! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by coop535 ( 813230 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:53AM (#15393607)

      Belinda and Gates are attacking a different set of problems and they're doing it everywhere. I think their viewpoint is that this project's priorities are out of whack. Education is great, provided the person will live to use it.

      Letter from Bill and Melinda Gates []

      We believe health is the cornerstone of human development. When health takes hold, life improves by all measures. Conversely, poor health aggravates poverty, poverty deepens disease, and nations trapped in this spiral will not escape without the world's help. In Africa, the cost of malaria in terms of treatment and lost productivity is estimated to be $12 billion a year. The continent's gross domestic product could be $100 billion higher today if malaria had been eliminated in the 1960s. And if HIV infection rates continue at their present levels, the world will likely see 45 million new infections by 2010 and lose nearly 70 million people by 2020. That's 70 million of the most productive members of society - health workers, educators, and parents.

      Therefore, the foundation's Global Health program works to ensure that lifesaving advances in health are created and shared with those who need them most. Our primary focus areas are HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria, child survival and childhood immunization, and maternal and reproductive health.

      To begin, we invest heavily in research to help discover new and better products, particularly vaccines. The foundation also supports work to develop products that can be manufactured and distributed. Then, once a product is developed, we work to make sure that there are systems in place to adopt and sustain these new drugs as they become available. The foundation is a major supporter of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI). This alliance has provided basic immunizations to over 8 million children who would not otherwise have been immunized. As a result, GAVI has already saved an estimated 500,000 children's lives.


      The most pessimistic person could view this project akin to what Apple did when working with schools to get Apple software & hardware in cheap: become the defacto standard via goodwill. Get in early so that when they leave school they come back. Besides, that same person's pessimistic view will believe that they'll be stolen from schools as they'll be the most valuable thing in the school. (due to the fantastic engineering fortitude which is obvious to all).

      • Re:These look great! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by harrkev ( 623093 ) <> on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @10:12AM (#15393784) Homepage
        Well, a lot of problems can be traced back to lack of education. The solution to AIDS is obvious. Abstinence is guaranteed to be effective. Condoms help a lot. There is no magic drug that will make people practice either of these. Focusing on AIDS drugs is like working on a better way to put out a fire -- much better to not have a fire in the first place. Simply stated, AIDS is spread by behavior. Education can help to change behavior.

        Let's look at other problems. Many countries in Africa are politically unstable. Certain tribes/countries/ethnic groups want to kill the others. They are raised to think of the "other group" (whoever that may be) as the enemy/evil/not-to-be-trusted. It has been proven that the Internet can break down borders. On a forum (including ones like this), you can have people from dozens of countries putting in their opinion. It helps people to understand their near and distant neighbors.

        Finally, some countries have a culture of corruption. When aid gets sent from foreign countries, there is sometimes lots of "palm greasing" just to get the supplies to those who need them the most. And even if the supplies get there, sometimes a few guys with guns take it all away. This is "just the way things are." So, what happens if the children are educated to realize that things do not have to be that way? It is possible that in a decade or two, opinions could start to change.

        This is not just about reading, 'riting, and 'rithmatic. This is about changing the way that people see the world.

        I do admit that this OLPC is not LIKELY to do all of that. But if it changes the life of even a few children, maybe those children will grow up to be the next president/prime minishter/grand poobah of their countries.

        • by soliptic ( 665417 )
          The solution to AIDS is obvious. Abstinence is guaranteed to be effective.

          Er... right.

          Apart from rape. Or AIDS transferance via blood transfusions. Or sharing needles.

          That said, your point of education leading to behavioural change is very true and very important.

          (Full disclosure: I work for an international development charity which has HIV/AIDS as one of it's highest priorities.)

  • Hand Powered? (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:00AM (#15393235) Journal
    I don't understand something, these are supposed to be crank powered to solve the situation where there isn't any electricity. On the blog link, you can see the crank in the back. On the Flikr account, I can maybe see it being concealed in the blue-ish laptop but I can't figure out where it is on the other two. Perhaps it is folded up?

    Why are they showing us pictures of them just sitting there? Why aren't their pictures of people powering them up or people checking e-mail/forums?

    Possibly the biggest problem working on this laptop is its small 12' screen. I wish I could see what kind of resolution that results in but I can't see the screen in any of these shots.

    If you want to make the pledge but don't know the specs, check out the Wikipedia article [] on it.
    • Re:Hand Powered? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Trigun ( 685027 ) <{xc.hta.eripmelive} {ta} {live}> on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:04AM (#15393257)
      From what I've been reading on these ones, is that the pictured ones are not crank-powered. The dynamo ones will be made available though.
    • Re:Hand Powered? (Score:5, Informative)

      by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:11AM (#15393305) Homepage
      Check this for better pictures of these: []

      Still not sure what the "ears" are for.

    • Re:Hand Powered? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JanneM ( 7445 )
      Possibly the biggest problem working on this laptop is its small 12' screen. I wish I could see what kind of resolution that results in but I can't see the screen in any of these shots.

      My current laptop has a 10.4' screen at 1024x768, and I actually use it as my main machine, both for writing and development. My plan was to complement this machine with a full-size desktop, but that purchase got delayed for various reasons and I found I don't need one after all.

      Yes, the screen is small, but since I sit close
    • Odd, if you look at picture []
      you can obviously see the crank handle on the side tucked in.

      At -72057594143224765/ []
      it looks like the handle is broken off..
    • Not Hand Powered (Score:5, Informative)

      by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:49AM (#15393583)
      At least according to this []:
      As initially envisioned, the laptops sported a hand crank on the side to generate power, but Negroponte has scrapped that idea because the twisting forces that would be bad for the machine. Instead, some form of power generation device, likely a pedal, will be attached to the AC power adapter, he said.

      "I was the longest holdout for the crank being on the laptop. I was wrong," he said

    • Re:Hand Powered? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Black Perl ( 12686 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:58AM (#15393652)
      Possibly the biggest problem working on this laptop is its small 12' screen.

      I don't know about you, but I'd consider a twelve-foot screen huge.

      But even a 12" screen is plenty large for a laptop like this. I had a 10.4" screen on a Sony Vaio and loved it. I replaced it with a 12" (different brand) because it was cheaper but would have loved another thin 10.4". It's the same pixel resolution, so it's not like you're losing any desktop space by going to the smaller screen.
  • Substitute screen? (Score:5, Informative)

    by RobotWisdom ( 25776 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:02AM (#15393250) Homepage
    Are they claiming that screen is the production version, or just a placeholder? Because last I heard the (specially lowcost) screen was still being developed...
  • by scenestar ( 828656 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:04AM (#15393259) Homepage Journal
    Just not in that fluorecent green or orange.

    cant they sell me a plain black one?

    sure as hell would replace my pda/ipod/other crap I haul around
  • Dupe? (Score:5, Informative)

    by blcamp ( 211756 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:07AM (#15393276) Homepage

    Photos have been out for some time, actually. []

  • I'm in... (Score:5, Informative)

    by PenguinBoyDave ( 806137 ) <> on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:13AM (#15393314)
    I'll pay for three and donate two any day of the week. I'm not rolling in cash mind you, but if I can help by providing something for those that can't afford it, then I think that is my responsibility, especially if I espouse the Free Software ideal.
  • /. effect (Score:5, Interesting)

    by i_should_be_working ( 720372 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:16AM (#15393335)
    It's hard to be certain because you can't zoom in, but this [] may be the coolest example of the /. effect ever.
    • Ouch 100,000 signers in 5 months? They'd better get the word out some more. I would not know about this except through Slashdot.
  • by rlp ( 11898 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:20AM (#15393370)
    Does it come with the Young Lady's Illustrated Primer?
    • by necro81 ( 917438 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:38AM (#15393505) Journal
      If I was lucky enough to have moderator points today, I'd mod that up for a well-placed geek cultural reference [].

      On a more serious note, I think that your comment has more going for it than just that. Considering the people who will be using these devices, I almost think that it should have something along those lines. After all, all the laptops in the world can only be of so much use - one needs ways to educate people on their use as well. Sure, there'll be the precocious ones out there who will tinker around with the laptop and learn it front to back within a year or two without anyone teaching them.

      Most, like the rest of us mere mortals, will need some help and instruction along the way. Are there enough teachers in the wide world to go along with these laptops? I don't know. Bundling them with a sort of interactive and adaptive user's manual (not just for the computer, but for a total education) wouldn't be such a bad idea.

      Aiming it towards the empowerment of women in the third world would go a long way, too, I think.
      • Are there enough teachers in the wide world to go along with these laptops?
        I'm sure there are plenty of Nigerians willing to train young children in the finer points of email and Western Union money transfers.
      • Re:Software Question (Score:3, Informative)

        by rlp ( 11898 )
        The YLIP was Stephensons vision of the ultimate adaptive AI teaching tool. Clearly nothing like that (or even close) exists. However, w/o a collection of good cheap (or free) CAE software, the laptops are not likely to have a whole lot of impact. Ideally, the educational software would be open-source, free, very modular, extensible, small (quick downloads), user friendly, easily internationalized, and compelling. This is an opportunity for the OSS community to dramatically leverage MIT's work. And who
  • missings modes? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:22AM (#15393383) Homepage Journal
    This is great that the project is advancing, but I was dissappointed that the laptop wasn't capable of changing to other modes as was originally planned. Check out the image in the wikipedia article [] -- there is a carrying mode, a theater mode, a laptop mode, and a tablet mode. However, this first prototype has only the laptop modes we are familiar with.
  • more useful info (Score:5, Informative)

    by user24 ( 854467 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:23AM (#15393389) [] gives a colour coded map of planned distribution areas

    and from the FAQ (

    The proposed $100 machine will be a Linux-based, with a dual-mode display--both a full-color, transmissive DVD mode, and a second display option that is black and white reflective and sunlight-readable at 3× the resolution. The laptop will have a 500MHz processor and 128MB of DRAM, with 500MB of Flash memory; it will not have a hard disk, but it will have four USB ports. The laptops will have wireless broadband that, among other things, allows them to work as a mesh network; each laptop will be able to talk to its nearest neighbors, creating an ad hoc, local area network. The laptops will use innovative power (including wind-up) and will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data.
  • The comments on the pledge say that they will not be selling these laptops to the public... only available through government systems. While this idea of buy 3, donate 2 seems great, it won't work if the makers are not even considering selling these commercially. I imagine that they might be taking a loss on manufacturing these and are only going to give them to the poor who need them. In the western world, if you can think about paying triple for a laptop, then you probably also don't have a problem in
  • by haplo21112 ( 184264 ) <haplo@epi t h n a .com> on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:40AM (#15393519) Homepage
    Lets put a real world Slashdot effect to good use. I think I can manange to scape together $300 in the next year. Getting the bulk of slashdotters to sign up would go a long way toward the pledge goal.

    Yes, Yes they are not offical offering the thing up for sale, and it might never happen, but its worth it just to show support for the idea.

    If it came to be I'd more than likely donate the third machine too...although it might also make an interesting hack project, see how much effort it would take to add a real power supply and/or battery.
  • by Nijika ( 525558 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:41AM (#15393522) Homepage Journal
    So we all dig these laptops for their day to day durability, and their lack of moving vital parts (HDDs), and their portability, and their flexability.

    And we all want one for $100, and we'd all gladly pay up to $400 for one. I've got a PowerBook, and I'd still love one. I wouldn't have to worry about it, but it would be really handy.

    This may indicate a market for such a device. Not a PDA, not a full-on "outfitted for war" laptop, not a (god damned useless) e-reader, not a handheld gaming rig, but the space between.

    This is the space for essentialy a portable, truly open device that will let us surf the web, and run shells, and edit text files or to-do lists, but that won't break us financially if it's snatched from us on the subway.

    MIT is showing us the market, and they're refusing to compete! Why have none of us embraced this yet?

    My formula would be a Gumstix and an eInk display, maybe? Anyone have any better ideas?

    • by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @10:28AM (#15393950) Journal
      And we all want one for $100, and we'd all gladly pay up to $400 for one.... MIT is showing us the market, and they're refusing to compete!

      I really don't understand this. "We don't want to sell 'first-worlders' these laptops for $100." I sort of understand, if they're taking a loss. But why not sell them for $249*, and advertise that all profits go to subsidize further development and deployment of these laptops in their intended role?

      The other reason to do it this way is that you really ought to get these laptops in the hands of "first world" open source developers and users, so they can start working on making these things even more useful. Since you really can't target just "open source developers", you need to let them out to everyone. (Besides, open source communities are generally robust in proportion to the number of people in them, because developers are attracted to larger population communities for a lot of reasons. You can't just magically create a developer-only community of any size.) Hopefully someday the intended users will be able to help, but that will take a while because first they've got to work their way up to "computer literacy" before they're going to be developing.

      (*: If $249 would not itself be a profitable price point, then the $100 laptop project has failed in the $100 goal. A $1000 laptop is $100 with a $900 loss/subsidy, but who cares?)
  • Sign me up (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Demerara ( 256642 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:48AM (#15393573) Homepage
    It's better to light a candle than to sit and curse the darkness.
  • Hardware specs (Score:3, Informative)

    by VincenzoRomano ( 881055 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @10:47AM (#15394122) Homepage Journal
    The USD 100 laptop hardware specs can be found here [] for the sake of completeness.
  • by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @11:08AM (#15394311) Homepage Journal
    I can't quite make out the keyboards, but they look vaguely like the common English (American?) keyboard. This is reasonable for a prototype built at MIT, but not appropriate for most of the intended recipients. I haven't read anything about this, and google doesn't seem to know anything, either.

    So what's the plan for including appropriate keyboards? Special keyboards for each locale, that only work there? Some scheme for a general-purpose keyboard that can be easily be used by children who speak/read/write Macedonian or Greek or Arabic or Cantonese or Mongolian or ...?

    I'd really be interested in the latter. I've been trying to develop "internationalized" stuff, and I've found that information about how to enter the above language on my keyboard is pretty much impossible to find.

    Of course, this could be because I'm in the US, where vendors see no reason to provide any help for any language other than English.

    • Most international keyboards are minor derivations of the standard English 101 keyboard with different mappings for diacritical characters. How those mappings and the key labelling will be handled is a relevent point.

      Even double-byte languages like Chinese or Japanese can be easily done on English keyboards as the character's pronunciation is typed in roman letters and the space bar hit to bring up a list of charcaters matching that pronunication.
  • by Ancient_Hacker ( 751168 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @12:43PM (#15395213)
    Having spent a few years in the 3rd world, a few concerns:
    • Biggest problem-- fathers will lose face if they don't have a laptop but their kids do.
    • Is it feasible to have kids using and carrying things equivalent to two months wages? Big incentive to thieves.
    • How to get a network connection in suburban Dar Es Salaam?
    • White plastic around the keyboard? Do you know how that's going to look after one day of not-so-clean hands resting on it?
    • Biggest problem-- fathers will lose face if they don't have a laptop but their kids do.

      As I understand the OLPC program, they are looking for governments to buy in bulk and provide them universally to children -- but I don't think they are concerned that they are distributed exclusively to children. So, if a government wants to provide them to everyone, OLPC probably won't object. Plus, since a major concern seems to be getting big enough orders, it would probably be a positive thing.

      Is it feasible to have

  • by SpacePunk ( 17960 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @12:54PM (#15395299) Homepage
    Family starving? Get a laptop!
    Need a job? Get a laptop!
    No running water? Crapping in a ditch? Get a laptop!

    yeah, this will help those people out.
  • by crhylove ( 205956 ) <> on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @03:17PM (#15396545) Homepage Journal
    I'd happily donate one by paying double, that should be enough. Charging triple seems like gauging, especially when there are plenty of impoverished kids IN THIS COUNTRY who could use a kick-ass $200 laptop. I'm one of them.


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