Bringing Laptops to the Third World

In First World nations such as the United States and the United Kingdom, computers are ubiquitous in schools and have been for some time.

In Third World nations, however, this does not yet hold true — students in developing countries might complete an academic career without much or any interaction with a computer, putting these nations at a tremendous disadvantage in competing globally in the digital age.

Nicholas Negroponte, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Laboratory chairman emeritus, is acting to change this with his One Laptop per Child program, which launched more than two years ago. It has since been established as an independent nonprofit.

One Laptop per Child has developed a machine called the XO, billed as a “$100 laptop.” The organization is acting to put the XO in the hands of children in developing countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Thailand and Uruguay. Each country gets versions programmed specifically to its native languages.

Manufactured by Quanta Computer Inc., the XO is a small, white unit with a green keyboard and framework, and it comes with a manually operated battery charger. When turned on, users are greeted by a screen with a stick figure icon in its center, which represents themselves. The figure is surrounded by a ring populated with icons for programs running on the machine. In this way, the XO’s operating system escapes the enforcement of a computer organized by files and folders. In fact, the machine has no hard drive.
It does, however,…


Daniel Margolis

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