Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Uruguay Places First Official Order of OLPC's $100 Laptops

Courtesy of the MAGIC Network, BBC News reports that Uruguay has first become the first country to place an order for 100,000 of the One Laptop per Child's (OLPC) controversial $100-laptops for kids. If all goes well, the country will purchase another 300,000 to "provide a machine for every child" in the country between the ages of 6 and 12 by 2009. According to the BBC article:
The order will be a boost for the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) organisation behind the project which has admitted difficulties getting concrete orders.

"I have to some degree underestimated the difference between shaking the hand of a head of state and having a cheque written," Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of the organisation, recently told the New York Times.

However, he said he was "delighted" with the first deal.

"We commend Uruguay for being the first country to take concrete actions to provide laptops to all its children and teachers and look forward to other countries following this example," he said.

Some of the problems that the organization has had include the steadily rising cost of the machines, which are supposed to sell for $100 or less, but have now (according to the BBC) increased to $188. Governments were also initially limited to purchasing batches or lots of 250,000 units, in green or white...a stipulation that has now been removed. In addition to making lower lot quantities available, starting November 12, individual members of the public will also be able to buy a machine "for themselves as well as one for a child in a developing country" (an initiative called "The Give 1 Get 1 (G1G1) program). Prices for individual machines start at $299. This last part is great news for researchers interested in exploring the technology first hand, and I'm now seriously considering including a design analysis of the computer in my thesis.

Along with the OLPC laptops, the Government of Uruguay will also provide internet access to all of the schools involved.

Check out the BBC's "Clickable guide to the key features of the "$100" laptop".

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