I’ve been following Nicolas Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child initiative since it was announced in 2005 and it is great to see things coming to fruition. Negreponte, if you are unfamiliar with his work, was one of the founding directors of the MIT Media Lab, one of the foremost computer research facilities on the planet.
The gist of One Laptop Per Child is to provide every child in the developing world with a laptop computer. Last year, the design was unveiled, and it is a marvel. Rugged, low-powered (using less than 10% of the power of a regular laptop), they use flash memory instead of a hard drive and use Linux as their operating system. Plus you can get a bunch of machines together and set up an instant network just by powering them up.
The idea was that once this thing was designed, orders from developing countries would come in and cheap laptops would flood into the developing world helping to bridge the technology gap between the developed and developing worlds. Initial enthusiasm from countries like Brazil and Nigeria helped fuel the project, along with $40 million in donations.
The laptop is now ready for the world. And to kickstart the project, the computers will be available to us in North America in a very unique way – a promotion called Get 1 Give 1 where Americans and Canadians can buy two laptops for $399. One gets donated to a child in a developing nation, and the other one is shipped to you for Christmas. The donated computer is a tax-deductible charitable contribution. The program will run for two weeks, with orders accepted from Nov. 12 to Nov. 26. Their website has some more info.
I’m thinking that The Girl is getting into playing on the computer, and this thing is supposedly indestructible. $200 for a laptop that she can use for the next few years plus a donation to a cause I believe in might make this her Christmas present this year.