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Penguins & Netbooks – Budget Solutions For Education Birthed by Innovation!

One of my podcasting co-hosts, Mark Gura, and I have been intermittently discussing the $100+ laptop project for the last two years on our popular bi-weekly series. If you happen not to be familiar with the $100 laptop project; it has been spearheaded by Nicholas Negroponte formerly of MIT. The importance of it is the way it has leveraged opened the tidal wave of adoption of open source software and forced computer manufacturers to develop low cost netbooks. This education-related project has truly transformed the computer industry and tech user expectations!

Background

Negraponte’s project is now called escolhasegura the One Laptop per Child project (OLPC) because the basic purpose is to provide low cost, durable laptop computers to the children of developing countries. The prototype of these laptops have gone through wide variations, and brought much criticism over the past few years and they are never meant to be the “does everything” computer.

These are basic models and yet quite revolutionary in several ways. For one, they are very small, have alternate power sources, such as hand powered, can be linked together to form an intranet (wireless broadband that can mesh network) and most of all do not suffer from what the founder dubs “Microsoft bloat.” In the dedicated efforts to keep the cost so very low, the software that is used is open source, which requires a much smaller installation footprint and hardware operation requirements.

The Original Prototype 2007 Details in Brief: Linux-based operating system, a dual-mode display, a 500MHz processor, 128MB of DRAM and 500MB of Flash memory. No hard drive, four USB ports and the wireless broadband that creates a mesh network.

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