Learning as easy as pie
The "One Laptop per Child" project enters its critical phase
Jürgen Rink - 09.05.2007
Once upon a time, a man set out to give away an exceptional laptop to millions of children. What sounds like a fairy tale is actually the "One Laptop per Child" (OLPC) project, which is already supplying interested governments with laptops. It expects to cross the one-million next year.
Dieser Artikel ist ebenfalls auf deutsch verfügbar.
Originally called the 100 dollar laptop, its name is now XO, as is the one sent to c't magazine. The non-profit organization called One Laptop per Child (OLPC) developed the XO laptop, which was the brainchild of Nicholas Negroponte. XO is not only an entry-level laptop, but also part of a comprehensive education project. Negroponte, cofounder of MIT's Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, launched One Laptop per Child in collaboration with other staff members at in July of 2005.
OPLC is based on the conviction that capacity building and the education of schoolchildren in developing and industrializing nations will make the world a bit more just and peaceful. The XO laptop provides users with a means of communications and access to content to promote this goal. The OLPC's goals are grand: millions of XOs are to be manufactured. In two years, the annual production is to reach around 100 million items, more than the current global annual production of all notebooks.
The organization is developing the hardware and software for the XO and pulls the strings for the manufacture and sale of the devices. It has already signed a contract for the production of the laptop with the world's largest notebook manufacturer Quanta, which will be manufacturing the laptops at its plant in the eastern Chinese town of Changshu. The first batch of 875 prototypes (code-named BTest-1) was delivered to developers at the end of last year; in February, Quanta shipped a four-digit number of the second prototype called BTest-2. This year, serial production of the first million XO laptops is to be completed, but developers still have their work cut out for them if they are going to reach that goal, as the list of errors for BTest-2 illustrates (wiki.laptop.org/go/BTest2_Release_Notes).
Initially, OLPC planned to sell the laptop only to governments, not consumers or retailers. While selling the XO via conventional sales channels would help fund the project, possibly with an additional charge added on, the small staff at the OLPC says it does not have the capacity to go that route; it even does without a marketing team. After an analyst meeting in May, OLPC doesn't rule out shipping of XO Laptops to U.S. schools any more.
A comprehensive security concept and cooperation with United Nations staff are to ensure that the XO does not fall into the wrong hands once it has been delivered to government agencies. Furthermore, hardware is being selected to make the units unattractive for thieves. These steps are being taken to prevent a gray market from being created when millions of XO laptops are bestowed upon the world.