Sunday, September 16, 2007

One Laptop Per Child Project Update

One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), the organization creating an inexpensive computer for international school children that spun out of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab, released an announcement on Friday about the project. The $100 goal per computer looks like it will not happen, at least for now. The Friday announcement states that the devices will actually cost $188 when they go into the production phase this fall. This is $12 more than an earlier projected price of $176. In addition, OLPC is now describing the $100 price tag as a "long-term goal".

I've written about the OLPC project and laptops in the past - MIT Media Lab founder and Chairman Emeritus Nicholas Negroponte was originally involved in this project and it has continued to be linked to the lab. Here's a video of John Maeda , associate director of the MIT Media Lab. At the lab John also leads the Physical Language Workshop.



OLPC has coined these device as "XO" model computers that use a child friendly version of the Linux based open source operating system, built in low-power wireless networking, a display that can easily be seen in the day, a speaker and microphone and a pull cord for hand recharging. You may recall earlier prototypes had a hand crank for recharging. The first ones are being made by Quanta Computer, a Taiwanese computer manufacturer.

One of the fundamental concepts of this project is to get computers into as many students hands as possible and let them tinker with them in an effort to stimulate and enhance creativity, like many of the educational toys many of us have bought for our children. Cost is critical and even though $188 per computer is still relatively inexpensive, each dollar cost increase is significant. After being given an initial cost estimate of $100, a $188 price tag may prevent some countries from signing on to the project with OLPC.

Associated Press technology writer Brian Bergstein wrote on Friday:

OLPC says it has commitments for at least 3 million of its rugged "XO" computers, though it won't disclose which countries are first in line. Among the nations that have shown interest are Brazil, Libya, Thailand and Uruguay.

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2 comments:

wayan said...

Gordon,

Why do you call it "OLPT"? Its OLPC (one Laptop Per Child). Also, you're correct, there are currently only expressions of interest in buying XO's from governments.

None have signed on, and Quanta says they are only building 1 million computers (if that), so 3 million doesn't seem realistic.

You can find out more at OLPC News.

Gordon... said...

Thanks - I'm acronym challenged at times (along with a lot of other things!)
The 3M number comes from the linked AP article.
I've corrected the OLPC acronym and clarified the AP reference.