back to article OLPC project goes into production

The One Laptop per Child project has started production, with the first children in the developing world expected to receive their computers in October this year. The ultimate aim is to get the device down to $100, though the initial run will cost $176, according to the BBC, which is providing a breakdown of costs. This …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thumbs up for N.

    Maybe not ideal, but more useful than a bible or quran ! Curious about the software the world will develop for this machine.

  2. Andrew

    Misguided Waste of Money and Effort

    Can you imagine the amount of school equipment $175 per child would buy in a typical Third World country?

  3. Phill

    wifi and internet?

    I sense a massive green spammy botnet sometime soon. I still think the project is a nice idea, even though it is putting all your egg-books in one green windup basket.

  4. Richard Kilpatrick

    Oh, ye of too much faith

    I expect the first applications will be Bible and Qu'ran readers. The device is being touted as a replacement for books as much as anything else.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I feel a disturbance in the force... though a thousand PC's got rooted and botnet'd... afraid...

  6. Erlang Lacod

    an end to the digital divide ?

    Its an ideal learning aid for the youth of developing countries, delivered at what most in the industry would regard as an almost unfeasiblly low price. That the dream has been realised with a seriously large dollop of help from renterprises better known for their bitter real-world rivalry is even more testamony to the quality and sheer 'rightness' of the original vision. Frankly I dont expect there will be any shortage of software - the project is very dear to the hearts of the Open Source community and hey, who knows, Micro$oft might even step up to the plate.

    Sorry I cant agree with the Bible or Quoran comment though, awareness of the spriritual has provided more benefit than harm despite the extemists.

  7. Nick Pettefar


    Is this the SInclair Spectrum for the 3rd World? I hope it takes off in a similar or better fashion and causes an education, realisation and expectation revolution to help reduce the ridiculous divide between the 1st and 3rd World.

  8. Don

    Where's mine?

    Why don't our kids get 'em? Heck, my son's high school REQUIRES a scientific calculator at $100 a pop. Seems to me a laptop would be more useful.

  9. Matt Thornton

    Hurray for more 419s

    The test kids in Nigeria are already hunting down <a href="">porn</a>, and no doubt they'll have these laptops offering us generous inheritances from long lost relatives in no time.

  10. Chad H.

    They should still let us westerners buy em.

    I'd love to buy one, just from a gadget point of view. I think OLPC is only doing some enterprising non-deserving person a service, as we all KNOW a lot are going to end up on Ebay, instead of being an extra sale they could have had. More sales = More Buying Power

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Is this the Sinclair Spectrum for the 3rd World?"

    It certainly has the rubbery keyboard - although it also reminds me of the Cambridge Z88, a notebook computer that Sir Clive developed in the late 1980s.

    I wonder how long until we get Doom ported to the OLPC. It's probably happened already.

    Twenty years from now there will be a generation of computer-literate Nigerians who have an irrational craving for the touch of rubber.

    I expect to see some popping up on eBay; I wonder what the economics would be, if a school was to sell its OLPC machines on eBay via an agent at (say) £125 each, with the agent taking £50 a machine. The limited supply, the curiosity, and the machine's lengthy battery light might make it the must-have trendy accessory, and with the money raised the school could buy a truck, a bunch of petrol generators, or several copy of "Cape Fear" on DVD.

  12. Ian Ferguson

    Great stuff

    To all the naysayers, remember that oft-quoted nugget of wisdom; give a man a fish, and he eats for a day, teach him to fish, and he eats for the rest of his life*

    It is one of many forms of aid for the third world, but this time instead of handouts it's all about education and helping children to stand up on their own two feet in this digital world. Personally, I'm hoping this is the catalyst for a digital revolution that will end in the IT industry being based in Africa and South America, and the Northern hemisphere reduced to food and crop production to support our OLPC-wielding overlords.

    *That is, until the lakes dry up from global warming

  13. jdotc

    Re: Spectrum

    Wow.... I hope so.

    I then await the creation of comp.sys.olpc and a whole new outlet for crossposted comp.sys.cbm and comp.sys.sinclair flame wars.

  14. Herman Claus

    For sale here

    I also didn't understand why this machine is not available in the north. It would speed up software development, and the more they sell them, the cheaper they become, no? I'd gladly buy one (even at a rate of buy one and give one free) for the kids.

  15. Ryan Stewart


    While people are starving to death in really destitute nations its good to know that places that are doing slightly better can get on the internet.

    apparently someone missed the memo on Maslow's hierarchy.

  16. John Styles

    Maslow's hiearchy of nerds

    I am surprised that these negative comments are cropping up on El Reg. Obviously on Slashdot you expect the coments from testosterone crazed teenagers in B*mf**k, Alabama who believe the third world consists entirely of starving people in mud huts, but one expects better here.

    Clearly, the countries this is aimed at are, by and large, not the ones where people are sitting round starving. Frankly, anyone here who cannot see the potential benefit of this device over spending the money on some textbooks is in the wrong profession, and should bugger off to count some beans, or something.

    It will, however, need careful management to make sure that the potential benefits ARE realised. Being a cynic, I fear the worst, but that doesn't mean that people should concentrate all their efforts on the poorest people in the world. Whilst this is in theory a good idea, the reality is that there are plenty of people in the west who will engage with the OLPC project in a way that they wouldn't with other schemes.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why do you care?

    Why do any of you care that 3rd world countries are getting wind-up PC's? It doesn't effect you in the least and could be the driving force behind open-source computing for the next generation. Instead of worrying about school supplies and food for these people (which I doubt any of you make any attempts to rectify) just take the OLPC project for what it is. An innovative and fairly altruistic attempt to share some of our culture and "civilization" with those have a rough go at life. If you actually visit the OLPC site and read through their papers (boring I know) you'll see a very well thought out system that prevents theft/resale, has strong innate security (at the cost of advanced functionality), and provides these children with something they would not otherwise have access to. While the effect of skills learned on these PC's may not seem like much to us, think about how many people's lives were fundamentally changed by a C64 or even better a TRS80... I bet there a lot of them on this site right now.

  18. G D WEBB


    Hmmm, I've not really followed this OLPC thing but this is the way I see it:

    Someone is making these notebooks, therefore someone is making a profit from it. THAT is the real motivation, all this 'helping children' stuff is a marketting excersise.

    However what is worrying me is this, if you give a bunch of poor kids PC's they will indeed learn IT skills, what do you imagine they will use them for?

    Somehow I don't think the kind of places they are aiming these machines at have a flourishing software industry for them to take up jobs in... and can you see any established middle-class company either in their own countries or in the US giving jobs to the poorest of the poor? (We all know 'equal oppurtunities' is as much of a marketting excersise as this scheme, its not what you know, its who you know.)

    I think its much more likely that ten years down the line all you will end up with is someone who makes the parts for these notebooks buying a new boat and a generation of unemployed, socially excluded but extremely tech savvy young people desperate to make some cash.

    Don't be suprised if you suddenly find Africa churning out more hackers-for-hire than eastern europe ever could.

  19. simon


    In 20 years time there will be a cheap army of African programmers ready to replace the bulgarian and mexican outsorced code sweat shops.

  20. Andrew

    To John Styles and Anon:

    To John Styles and Anon, I grew up in Southern Africa, I did some work for an NGO and knew several people who worked fulltime for NGO's. I KNOW how desperate many schools, particularly rural ones, are for the most basic supplies. And you idiots want to give them computers when some don't have enough pencils and workbooks or even teachers, let alone textbooks! Get your priorities right.

  21. Andy Crofts

    Bang goes another phrase...

    ...I used to think an alternative name for a "Ghetto Blaster" was a "Third-world briefcase".

    Seems OLPC has beaten me to it...

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Real Computing?

    <<....think about how many people's lives were fundamentally changed by a C64 or even better a TRS80... I bet there a lot of them on this site right now....>>

    Yep. Been there, done that.

    But, for real magic, try teach-yourself-computing with a Sinclair MK14.

  23. Matthew

    How to get one...

    According to Mr Negroponte, there are plans to offer the OLPC to Western consumers on a 'buy 2 get one' basis. The second machine is given to a Third World country and you get a warm glow from your charitable efforts.

    It will also help make anyone who puts one on ebay seem like an uncharitable schmuck...

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Surely Science of Cambridge? :)


  25. C. Nelson

    let's try to accept a gift graciously, please.

    What I find the assertion that somehow, it's impossible or immoral to nurture more than one aspect of a group or situation at a time a bit ridiculous. There are companies whose main business is food production, and those are the ones who should send food. There are companies whose main business is clothing production, and they should send clothes.

    The companies involved in the OLPC project are tech companies. Why should they somehow be forced to ignore their main strength to help only in a way that someone else can do better than them, anyway? A clothing company probably can't help with technology. A technology company can. We are able to walk and chew bubble gum at the same time, really we are.

    Let's also remember that the "these are ____, what do they need ___ for?" line of argument has always been a handy excuse to deny things to people on the basis of someone else's small-minded (or, more generously, short-sighted) assessment of what they "really need." What do girls need to read and write for, they only need to keep house? Why should a farmer's kid go to school after high school, he's only gotta come home and work the land anyway? What can they do with them? Give it to them, and find out. We already know what they do *without* them, after all, and it's not improving their lives any to not have them.

    Money spent on the OLPC project is not money taken out of the mouths of the starving; it's a *bonus* they would not have gotten to use on food anyway. Think of it as a gift card -- you might do your grocery shopping at Kroger's, but if someone hands you a $100 gift card to Amazon, then you shop at Amazon, and since your budget at Kroger's wasn't affected you really haven't lost anything.

    Computers replace pencils and workbooks rather nicely, by the way. I can't remember the last time I did more than scribble a note on paper. And textbooks in software form can be duplicated as many times as needed so every child has a copy. Sure, it doesn't touch the teacher shortage, but I'll bet that if the software helps with the grading and assigning exercises based on what work the kids have mastered, one teacher spread among too many kids might be able to manage a little better. It's not like these laptops aren't primarily meant for school use.

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