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Jason Pontin

A View from Jason Pontin

D3: Nicholas Negroponte and the $100 Laptop

Nick Negroponte insists his computer for the poor world is doable. 50 percent of the laptop is marketing, profit, and so on. Another significant portion is mantaining what Nick calls Microsoft’s “obese” code. Instead, Nick says, “The operating system will…

  • May 23, 2005

Nick Negroponte insists his computer for the poor world is doable. 50 percent of the laptop is marketing, profit, and so on. Another significant portion is mantaining what Nick calls Microsoft’s “obese” code. Instead, Nick says, “The operating system will be Linux. The developing world doesn’t even want to talk to you if it’s not Linux.” The real challenge, he explains, is getting the display beneath $25. That’s doable, he insists, using MIT’s eInk. As for a power supply, the laptops will be charged with a crank shaft!

Is all this reasonable? Scott McNealy says No. Almost every one I know thinks it’s ridiculous. But it would make a wonderful difference for the children of the developing if it could be done. “It would be a window on the world for millions of kids!” Nick says. He concludes by telling us that Chinese manufacturers are bidding on his project next week. Well, we’ll see. I wish him luck.

For myself, I am done for the day.

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