Some manufacturers Dr. Mary Lou Jepsen approached about producing and selling a laptop computer for $100 laughed at her. Despite this chiding and disbelief, the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) chief technology officer has persevered, and the $100 laptop is on track to be shipped next spring.
Jepsen describes the OLPC program in "Working on the $100 Laptop" in the July issue of IEEE-USA Today's Engineer Online.
OLPC is a non-profit association dedicated to researching and developing a low-cost laptop to serve as an educational tool for children in the developing world. The cheapest laptops on the market today typically sell for about $499, a price completely out of reach for most of the world's children and their parents. The $100 laptop has the potential to transform education in the world's poorest countries.
Jepsen writes that Billy Edwards, AMD's chief strategy officer "describes our design of the $100 laptop as the first fundamental revisit of personal computer architecture since IBM launched the PC in 1981. Twenty-five years, and now, for the first time, we're redesigning the whole architecture - hardware, software, display - and we're coming up with some remarkable inventions and innovations."
The $100 laptop, which will have online capability, will also have features that most typical laptops do not. These include instant on, three to four times the range of WiFi antennae, a hand crank to recharge the battery, one-tenth the power consumption, and a higher-resolution display.
"This is not a cost-reduced version of today's laptop," Jepsen writes. "It's an entirely new approach to the idea of a laptop."
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