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Affordable Laptop Computer Project Moves Forward

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Affordable Laptop Computer Project Moves Forward

Technology

Affordable Laptop Computer Project Moves Forward

Affordable Laptop Computer Project Moves Forward

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Nicholas Negroponte wants to put inexpensive laptops into the hands of children in developing countries. The project is called One Laptop Per Child. Despite setbacks, the program is moving forward.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

On Mondays we focus on technology. Today the $100 laptop.

A few months ago we brought you the story of One Laptop Per Child, a project to create a $100 laptop that could be economically distributed to every child in the developing world. Now NPR's Adam Davidson has an update.

ADAM DAVIDSON reporting:

It's been a big month for Nicholas Negroponte. He's just taken a leave from MIT to focus solely on running One Laptop Per Child. Also, the project has moved from theoretical design to actual production.

Mr. NICHOLAS NEGROPONTE (One Laptop Per Child): It's been 18 hours a day, seven days a week for a year and a half, and having a machine in one's hand, which I actually have at the moment - I'm sitting with one right here - is very gratifying. But boy, there's still a long way to go.

DAVIDSON: The idea has always been to design a cheap and rugged laptop to help the world's poorest children learn how to operate in the modern world. But in production, some of the original goals have had to change.

For example, the famous $100 price tag has moved up to around $135 bucks. The hand crank only power system is out, and the foot pedal is in. Also, the project might have hit a snag with one of its first big customers.

Mr. NEGROPONTE: What happened in India is not clear to us.

DAVIDSON: According to the Times of India, the Indian Minister of Human Resource Development says the project costs too much, and is nothing more than attempt to experiment on Indian children.

Mr. NEGROPONTE: We're not experimenting on anybody. We're, in fact, taking a well-proven phenomenon and making it available to the developing world.

DAVIDSON: Negroponte says no one in India has told him directly whether or not they'll cancel their participation. He says several countries, including Nigeria and Brazil, will likely order five million of the laptops by the end of the year. That's the minimum amount needed to run the project economically.

He says within a few years, the price should drop to well under $100, and be open to every country on earth.

Adam Davidson, NPR News.

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