First $100 Laptops Due This Year

The first $100 laptop PCs for the One Laptop Per Child program will roll off production lines by the end of this year, and mass production will start in the first quarter of 2007, manufacturer Quanta Computer says.

The Taiwanese company, the largest contract notebook PC manufacturer in the world, had previously estimated it would begin mass production of the low-cost laptops in the second quarter of next year.

The company expects to ship 5 million to 10 million of the laptops next year, and said orders to Argentina, Brazil, Libya, Nigeria, and Thailand have already been confirmed.

Joining Forces

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative is aimed at ensuring school children in developing countries keep up with their peers in modern nations by putting a laptop PC able to wirelessly access the Internet into their hands. The founders of the OLPC group hope the program keeps people in poor nations from being left behind in the digital age. The $100 laptop PC concept has also prompted companies, including Intel, to start creating lower cost notebooks for developing countries.

A number of academic and industry groups worked together on the $100 laptop design. The leader of the OLPC group, Nicholas Negroponte, is also a cofounder of the MIT Media Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The group plans to offer the low-cost laptops to governments and organizations worldwide as an educational tool.

The $100 machine will run the Linux OS on a 500MHz microprocessor from Advanced Micro Devices, will be wireless broadband-ready, and contain 128MB of DRAM and 500MB of flash memory for storage. The only major component missing will be a big hard disk, according to the group.

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