The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) effort has reached a major milestone: Shanghai’s Quanta Computer has pushed the first 1,000 XO laptop computers off its assembly line to begin environmental testing and software refinement.
The idea behind the One Laptop Per Child initiative is to improve the educations of children around the world—and especially in developing nations—by putting low-cost, energy-efficient, open-source, network-capable computers in the hands of children and teachers so they can more readily access information and knowledge. The units till be sold to governments to be issued to children on a one-computer-per-child basis. Spearheaded by the MIT Media Lab’s Nicholas Negroponte, the OLPC project has not been without its challenges and setbacks—not to mention skeptical tongue-lashings from the likes of Microsoft’s Bill Gates—but the project continues to move forward.
The first 1,000 machines will be tested to see how they stand up to environmental conditions, including drops, keyboard pounding, resistance to particles and moisture. Some units will also go to software developers to work on refining and debugging software and applications in the XO’s operating system.
“We have answered the question of whether or not we can build a low-cost laptop,” said Walter Bender, president of software and content of One Laptop per Child, in a statement. “The challenge now is to fine-tune it to the needs of children’s learning.”
Quanta anticipates manufacturing more units in early 2007 for early distribution to children in Argentina, Brazil, Libya, Nigeria, and Thailand, with mass production scheduled to begin in mid-2007.
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