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Working Model of MIT $100 Laptop a Hit 440

capt turnpike writes "The One Laptop per Child association and its chairman, MIT Media Labs's Nicholas Negroponte, unvelied a working model of their $100 laptop at the Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange (MITX) show, and the little laptop that might was a hit. It's got a version of Fedora Linux, is rugged, and each unit will work as part of a wireless mesh automatically. From the article: "However, as Negroponte put it in his address, One Laptop per Child isn't all about the laptops. The main goal is to tap into the ability of every child to toss away a manual and figure out how to make gadgets work on their own, thus helping children help themselves to learn." also has photos."
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Working Model of MIT $100 Laptop a Hit

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  • $130 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mopslik ( 688435 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @02:05PM (#15496096)

    Isn't that the $130 [] laptop? Or did they manage to bring the cost back down?

  • by agent dero ( 680753 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @02:06PM (#15496107) Homepage
    This isn't trolling or anything, I am still in American public schooling (public uni.), and this quote struck me as odd.

    The main goal is to tap into the ability of every child to toss away a manual and figure out how to make gadgets work on their own, thus helping children help themselves to learn.

    I'm in an engineering degree, and I'm shocked at the lack of this ability in college students at american schools! I'm tickled by the fact that we're so set on helping foreign education, when our own educational system is in dire need of....some bloody education.
  • by catch23 ( 97972 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @02:08PM (#15496122)
    As another commenter noted in the previous slashdot article, the colors are also a deterrent for potential theives stealing laptops from kids. Anyone who looks older than 18 and is carrying a fisher-price laptop probably stole it from a kid. Easy way to spot.
  • Re:Food? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 08, 2006 @02:11PM (#15496147)
    Yes, because we all know that all third-world countries shouldn't be provided with anything that would help their economies move forward. Instead, they should only receive insufficient food handouts, remaining in their impoverished third-world states forever.
  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @02:11PM (#15496148) Journal
    I thought is was to reduce the desireability for theft.
  • by peterdaly ( 123554 ) * < t c> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @02:13PM (#15496165)
    I've heard it described as the technology gap will, and has already started to push the first and third worlds further apart. More importantly, it is becoming ever more difficult to improve the living conditions and economies as this gap widens.

    This device and plan, if it can be pulled off, could be the single most import thing in helping third world populations on a large scale over the long term.

    It's not the technology itself, per say, but the communications that it enables. Getting cell phones into places is a similar type of project. Things as simple as finding the market price of lets say rice, can apparently make big diferences in building economies.
  • Re:Food? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JonJ ( 907502 ) <> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @02:14PM (#15496185)
    Oh my god you punched a hole in the brilliant plan of supplying laptops instead of food to the starving people.

    How about this: These laptops aren't meant to replace food, and they're not gonna throw them after people that's starving instead of food. But these people also need to LEARN. And that's what these are for. Man, you people just wanna feed those poor kids instead of learning them how to feed themselves.
  • by Momoru ( 837801 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @02:15PM (#15496196) Homepage Journal
    How long before we find these on eBay for $200? Money and food probably means a lot more to many of these people's immediate needs then a laptop for their child.
  • Re:Food? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tweekster ( 949766 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @02:19PM (#15496237)
    Not everything is about the very bottom of the impoverished ladder.

    This is for children that have overcome the daily quest for food.

    Why do people insist on thinking this is for children that dont have any food and live in ditches.
    Not every poor person falls into that category.
  • Re:Food? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gkhan1 ( 886823 ) <> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @02:23PM (#15496274)
    We've tried to support the poorer parts of the world for many, many years with food and while it has undoubtedly saved millions (maybve billions) of lives the economy, with some exception, hasn't improved much. This might be a great way to get children to be interested in learning and maybe inspire some of them to get a higher education.

    I think this is a great humanitarian initiative, showing that there is more to living than just staying alive. I'm not saying we should stop with the food, but this here is very much a Good Thing.

  • by Tweekster ( 949766 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @02:24PM (#15496292)
    No you are thinking of the western POV. You believe that Africa has one class of people, dirt poor, barely surviving and in a constant struggle for food and shelter.

    In reality this isnt focused at those people, but rather the ones that have overcome that daily struggle and have what is considered a decent live there, education is the next goal for them.
  • by maggard ( 5579 ) <> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @02:29PM (#15496342) Homepage Journal

    This has been addressed many times.

    Yes, kids need water, food, vaccinations, a place to sleep, and if they and their communities are to be successful and self-supporting an education also.

    Is a $100 laptop extravagant for supporting an education? No,because it's multipurpose tool offering information, tutorials, communications, and soon after distribution locally built & relevant applications. By offering these kids access to the larger world, to an education in their own language, to contribute and distribute materials, it gives they, and their communities, opportunities to break their cycle of poverty.

    It's not an either/or proposition between food and education, BOTH are needed, one fills the short-term need and the other the long-term.

  • 0=360 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @02:35PM (#15496392) Homepage Journal
    Wait, I thought the US computer makers said a $100 laptop was impossible. 8 months later, it's done.

    But then, IBM said it was impossible to keep its HD and PC businesses before selling them to Hitachi and Lenovo. Those companies are making big profits continuing the business.

    Making money and new products when you're positioned at the top of the computer business is now so easy that it's looped all the way around from "impossible" to "inevitable".
  • by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @02:46PM (#15496507)
    Money and food probably means a lot more to many of these people's immediate needs then a laptop for their child.

    It certainly does, and if you were paying any attention you'd find lots of organizations devoting to addressing those immediate needs.

    OTOH, if they don't deal with the longer-term needs of education and economic development -- both of which dirt cheap, mass-produced computers that are nearly universally available can help with -- those underlying problem driving those "immediate needs" that are temporarily alleviated by cash and food will simply worsen, and more cash and more food will be required to acheive the same results.

  • Re:Food? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @02:58PM (#15496612)
    Typically people starve during times of political unrest or drought, but not because they don't know how to do it.

    Typically, people starve in the third world because they lack the skills and/or resources to provide anything to the global economy that can be exchanged for food, and because the subsistence agriculture that they do have the skill to do is inherently risky, threatened by pollution and climate shifts, and often not the way that the people in power can make the most money; further the crop failures are as often the result of bad agricultural methods as they are by actual drought.

    Enhancing education helps deal with the underlying problems that cause starvation. OLPC is certainly neither the whole solution, nor the component most related to short-term needs. But there are lots of other groups involved in addression the problems of the developing world, and pissing on OLPC because it doesn't address all the problems, or the one piece you think is most immediate, is idiotic.

    The people doing OLPC aren't hurting the efforts of organizations like the Red Cross or Food for the Poor. Indeed, it seems to me like it goes hand-in-hand with the efforts of small business development and microcredit in the third world that have demonstrated that building economic capacity by providing basic assistance aimed at enabling individual productivity can have considerable effects in dealing with the crushing poverty that produces hunger.

    This is, really, about helping developing societies develope more of the tools they need -- in terms of human capital -- to feed themselves.

  • by Maximum Prophet ( 716608 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @03:11PM (#15496731)
    There's already lots of education in Africa supplied by organizations like the Peace Corp and churches. Trouble is, it's targetted at the best and brightest children, who, after they do well in school, tend to leave and never come back. What 3rd world countries need is broad education that includes adults. The networking aspects of this machine could help with that. The children could be less likely to leave if they are in constant contact with their peers, learning from and teaching them and their parents. Imagine, distributed schools. Imagine a beowulf cluster of them. (:-)
  • by burnin1965 ( 535071 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @03:21PM (#15496822) Homepage
    " so these kids can grow up into the next generation of outsourced tech support reps "

    Your commenting on the wrong program. Your thinking of the $600 Microsoft Windows laptop strapped to every child in a third world country sweat shop working as outsourced tech support reps.

    While OLPC is about teaching children how to learn and not about the laptop the Gates version is about the laptop and teaching children how to use MS Office for their future careers as clueless drones.

    Yes I know, you were just being facetious and my post is flamebait. :P
  • by israel_zayas ( 206156 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @03:24PM (#15496853)
    [quote]I know schools here in the US who can't even put a computer on the desk of any of the kids; many share 5 crummy machines between two (or more) classes. There are many places here that could use these things; I don't understand why there is no interest in marketing them right here. It seems like having electronic books would be cheaper/easier too [/quote]

    Forgive me for saying this, but:
    b/c those same kids have PSP's, Ipods and cell phones... If their parents wont buy them a computer why should the public give them one for free.
  • Re:Food? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @03:48PM (#15497073)
    This "cheap OSS laptops for starving children" schtick ...
    ...doesn't actually exist. OLPC is not targetted at providing cheap OSS laptops to starving children.

    Its targetted at providing cheap laptops to ministries of education in developing countries for universal distribution, and the developing countries that they are working with aren't the ones where mass starvation is the main problem, but ones where distribution of education and lack of infrastructure are problems, and those are exactly the problems the laptop is aimed at helping them deal with.
  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @03:48PM (#15497074)
    The other big thing I see here is a screen that works under sunlight. Why can't I have that on my $3500 Thinkpad?
  • Re:Food? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by harrkev ( 623093 ) <> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @03:50PM (#15497092) Homepage
    Let me inform you...

    The most powerful thing in the world is an idea.

    Some people want to blame guns for violence, but one little book called the "Communist Manifesto" is responsible countless deaths.

    Also, there was this guy named Ghandi with an idea. Ever hear of Martin Luther? Or how about Martin Luther King Jr.? All of those were just otherwise ordinary guys who had ideas that changed their countries.

    I am not an expert on Africa. However, I get the impression that part of their problem is environmental (climate, drought, etc.) but part is in-fighting, genocide, corruption, and political instability. Education cannot change the environment, but it CAN spread ideas and combat the other problems. History has shown that one powerful leader at just the right time can make a huge difference. If these laptops can help to shape just one child who will grow up and be a leader who promotes peace and honesty, that will be well worth the effort.
  • Re:Me so hungry (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kadathseeker ( 937789 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @04:01PM (#15497190) Homepage
    For the fifty millionth time, not all of them are starving! This isn't for the kids you see on the adopt-a-child commercials, this is for the semi-stable states that would hopefully, through the education of its children, begin modernizing and bring wealth, prosperity, education, and infrastructure to the entire region. If, say, 7 African nations were truly on their way to becoming first world nations, imagine how it would affect their neighbours.

    If all we did was feed starving people, they'd be dependant on us forever, and would have rampant overpopulation and disease. By educating the parts of the continent that is slightly better off, they can help themselves, and then help their neighbours help themselves.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!