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$100 laptop (XO)

XO is the first version of the $100 laptop expected to reach a substantial number of users. The $100 laptop is a product that several computer companies and thinkers have suggested over the years to help bridge the digital divide and bring information service to people in rural areas of developing countries. MIT's Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte, co-founder of the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) initiative, first proposed the $100 laptop as a way to encourage education and alleviate third world poverty.

The OLPC project plans to roll out approximately 2,500 laptops to eight countries in February 2007. The intention is to produce five million laptops by July 2007, scaling to 50 million by 2008. This version of the $100 laptop, called XO, will cost $150 but the expectation is that mass production will bring the cost down to $100 by 2008 and below that figure by 2010.

Some details:

  • XO is about the same size as a text book and lightweight (target weight is less than 1.5 kilograms), with an integrated handle.
  • When the laptop is closed, the keyboard and display are hermetically sealed to prevent dust and water from damaging the machine.
  • The display features a 7.5-inch 1200 x 900 pixel LCD screen.
  • The display changes from color to black and white for viewing in bright light (such as outdoors).
  • A string pulley, which Walter Bender of OLPC likens to a salad spinner, powers the battery.
  • One minute of pulling generates 10 minutes of power.
  • XO operates in thin client mode -- there is no hard drive or PCMCIA slot.
  • XO includes a Web cam and programs for creating music.
  • The laptops have wireless networking capabilities and use a lightweight version of Fedora (see skinny Linux ).
  • XO is built without toxic materials.


Although proponents are enthusiastic about the initiative's potential, the project is not without its critics. Critics propose, for example, that the project should be moved into the adult community to foster economic growth and question whether or not a laptop is the right technology to meet the needs of the users.

See a demonstration of the first $100 laptop prototype.

See Nicholas Negroponte discussing the OLPC project.

This was last updated in March 2011

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