by Al Sacco

OLPC Ships First Ten “$100 Laptops”

Nov 20, 20062 mins
Consumer Electronics

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative has shipped its first 10 “$100 Laptops” for pilot testing by children, and the machines were priced at $150 apiece, reports.

OLPC, a program meant to bring affordable—and durable—laptop computers to children in developing nations to help bridge the digital divide, is led by program Chairman and MIT Media Lab cofounder Nicholas Negroponte.

OLPC Concept Photo
OLPC Concept Photo

Quanta Computer, a Taiwanese producer of laptop computers, will build the machines.

The first 10 machines—which recently underwent testing by U.S. government officials—were shipped at a cost of $150 per laptop, according to ITWire; and the next production run of 900 is slated for 2007, with more to come in the future based on the success of Negroponte’s initiative. As more and more countries place orders for “$100 Laptops” and the associated production costs decrease proportionately, the group hopes to eventually offer the machines at a price closer to the $100 originally intended.

The 900 units that will come from the next 2007 production run will be used by developers to create software for use with the machines, including an instant-messenger program, ITWire reports.

The laptops will be built to last with rugged exteriors, feature Wi-Fi connectivity, and include 126MB of DRAM and 512MB of flash memory for storage. The machines will also run on the free, open-source Linux operating system. The original prototypes included a hand crank for powering the machines—a feature the caused OLPC to catch flak from a number of critics, including Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, but according to ITWire, that feature has been scratched.

OLPC Concept Photo
OLPC Concept Photo

The governments of such countries as Argentina, Brazil, Libya, Nigeria and Thailand have already expressed support for the program, saying they’ll order the machines for use by their children.

OLPC said in the past that it wouldn’t begin large-scale production of the machines until some 5 million to 10 million machines were ordered and paid for.

For more information, visit the OLPC site.

Firms such as Intel are also working on low-cost PCs for use by children in Third World countries. Intel rival AMD offered a low-cost PC, dubbed the Personal Internet Communicator, but it recently discontinued the product because it was not profitable.