Tuesday, April 17, 2018

One Laptop Per Child Retrospective

Adi Robertson (Hacker News):

The $100 laptop would have all the features of an ordinary computer but require so little electricity that a child could power it with a hand crank. It would be rugged enough for children to use anywhere, instead of being limited to schools. Mesh networking would let one laptop extend a single internet connection to many others. A Linux-based operating system would give kids total access to the computer — OLPC had reportedly turned down an offer of free Mac OS X licenses from Steve Jobs. And as its name suggested, the laptop would cost only $100, at a time when its competitors cost $1,000 or more.


By the time OLPC officially launched in 2007, the “green machine” — once a breakout star of the 21st-century educational technology scene — was a symbol of tech industry hubris, a one-size-fits-all American solution to complex global problems. But more than a decade later, the project’s legacy is more complicated than a simple cautionary tale. Its laptops are still rolling off production lines, and a new model is expected later this year.


After years of insisting that it wasn’t a tech company, OLPC really has opted out of the laptop arms race, embracing its status as a niche machine. OLPC’s current laptop has the same camera and screen resolution as its original 2008 edition, and less memory and storage than a budget smartphone. OLPC estimates it’s shipped a total of 3 million XO machines over the course of the past decade.

Previously: One Laptop Per Child.

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I was absolutely fascinated by this device, the whole idea really. Bridging the divide. Too bad it really didn't amount to much. I did see one in person at a local Panera here in Maryland, many years back. Pretty neat, but still more a concept than a product. I'm intrigued by the what if regarding OLPC running OS X, as Steve Jobs offered, but I can't imagine the performance would have been good enough on this hardware given Windows' failure to do the same.

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