When Nicholas Negroponte announced the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project there were many, many doubters. The main thrust of the complaint was that a real notebook (as far as I could see mostly this was one that runs Microsoft Windows) would be a far better idea and would possibly cost less.
No one knows where these quite daft criticisms originated but they were picked up around the world by IT commentators who ran with them.
Now it looks as though the OLPC project is going to come to fruition. The simply laptop will initially cost $US150 but there are strong hopes the price could eventually come down to $100 a pop.
The computer was developed by MIT Media Lab and Nicholas Negroponte, whose name should for ever be blessed. Their argument is that if poor children are given access to inexpensive computers they can learn better. Perhaps, in some cases, learn where they do not even have teachers or schools.
The OLPC web site states: ‘Poor children lack opportunity, not capacity for learning. By providing laptops to every child without cost to the child, we bring the poor child the same opportunities for learning that wealthy families bring to their children.’
Millions of the laptops are already being built for Rwanda, Argentina, Brazil, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Thailand and Uruguay, and it is understood they will be ready for distribution by July.
How good are they? At the moment it is only possible to test one program easily. It is totally wonderful. Better than my wildest dreams.
The program is Mini Tam Tam and you should click on the link to explore it and realize the potential of this wonderful machine.
If the rest of the programs are to this standard AND if the laptop is ever offered on sale to the general public — despite rumors in the press that idea has been ruled out for the moment — then it will be must-buy machine. For certain sure. It has a webcam, microphone, wireless networking, SD memory card slot and built-in speakers.
Interesting to see the way the reporting in the press is slowly slewing around for skepticism to belief. Listen to Mini Tam Tam and you, too, will become an instant believer for the program is better at what it does than anything you have seen running on a PC. Or a Mac. Color it wonderful.
The YouTube demonstration of Mini Tam Tam is also here.