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U.N. to back $100 laptop, says report

Posted: 30 Jan 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Peter Clarke? U.N.? laptop computer?

The U.N. is expected to endorse an idea for a hand-cranked $100 laptop computer to be issued to millions of schoolchildren around the globe.

A prototype of the laptop has been specified at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is expected to sign a partnership agreement with the head of the One Laptop per Child project, Nicholas Negroponte, in Davos, Switzerland, on Saturday, according to a Reuters report.

Davos is hosting the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, a gathering of politicians, economists and business executives.

UNDP and One Laptop per Child are set to work together with local and international partners to get the laptops into schools in developing countries, according to the Reuters report. This could create a market for tens of millions of the computers.

MIT has produced a prototype computer specification. Pictures show the machine in lime green livery. MIT stressed that the computers would not be for sale. The expectation is that children will own them but that governments and charitable organizations will pay for them.

The machines are set to comprise a Linux operating system; a dual-mode LCD for viewing as a full color transmissive display and as a sunlight readable transflective display; a 500MHz processor, 128MB of DRAM and 500MB of flash memory. There will be no hard disk but the machine is specified to have four USB ports and a wireless broadband connection that can join a mesh network.

Taiwan's Quanta Computer Inc. has agreed to devote engineering resources from the Quanta Research Institute (QRI) the first half of 2006, with a target of bringing the product to market the fourth quarter (see Dec. 15, 2005 story).

Although the MIT website does not discuss processor selection, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. has been listed as a supporter of the $100 laptop along with Brightstar, Google, News Corp., Nortel and Red Hat.

- Peter Clarke
EE Times

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