Gallery: ONE LAPTOP PER CHILD by FuseProject


We bloggers are so tied to our laptops that we often times take them, and our constant connection to a never ending flow of information, for granted. We write and read about some amazing eco-friendly and environmentally-conscious design initiatives. But often times the socially-focused projects have the most potential to incite change, like Fuseproject’s XO computer designed for the One Laptop Per Child program, which provides not only an ingeniously designed piece of technology, but a plan to deliver said technology to an otherwise technologically underprivileged demographic. The cleverly-designed, fully-loaded XO laptop will be delivered in mass quantities to developing countries for about $130 each, giving thousands of children access to the web and other educational applications. This past July, Nigeria placed the first hefty order of one million units. And just last month, XO was honored with Popular Science magazine’s “Best of What’s New” Award.

photos courtesy of FuseProject

In development for over a year now, the One Laptop Per Child design and program has come a long way. The initiative began as a non-profit organization, spearheaded by Nicholas Negroponte of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and has received sponsorship and support from many parties including the United Nations Development Programme and technical support from Google, Skype, and Linux RedHat.

After multiple rounds of prototyping, the designers at FuseProject have produced a compact, highly-functional, and engaging final product. The device boasts a slew of streamlined features, from its Wi-Fi antenna “rabbit ears” and energy-efficient LCD to the digital writing tablet and integrated video camera. Networking capabilities allow children to connect to each other, their school, their teacher, and the Web. And if that weren’t enough, the machine runs off of power from a variety of sources- from rechargeable batteries to hand cranks, and eventually solar energy. When closed, the laptop features an integrated handle and is completely protected from dust and dirt, allowing each student to transport their laptop to and from school. Aesthetically, the XO is simple yet kid-friendly, engaging, tactile, and even anthropomorphic.

Despite the forward-thinking design, the laptop and OLPC program has received some criticism surrounding a variety of issues. Questions raised include skepticism as to how the machines will actually be used in classrooms, doubts about the efficacy of the software and technical configurations, worries that the program will vastly increase the amount of material waste in the developing world, and if the laptop itself could be “greener.” Others wonder if a laptop is the appropriate device to bridge the digital divide, and worry it may follow in the footsteps of the somewhat disappointing Simputer.

At the end of the day, and amidst the constant debates, we think the One Laptop Per Child program is a wonderful thing, and a brave step in the right direction. At the risk of sounding overly-idealistic, the continued, if controversial, discussion should be encouraging, proving that we’re committed to doing things better and finding efficient ways of delivering resources to those who need them. Congratulations to FuseProject on an ingenious design for a global problem. As for the actual implementation, only time will tell how effective and influential the program will prove to be. In the meantime, we’d love to hear your thoughts…

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  1. macarena May 14, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    please email me please i need a laptop to use please do it.

  2. tomjyi October 21, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    yes i want to get by one give a lapto to a child of afrika

  3. ajay jangid July 9, 2008 at 6:26 am

    really appriciable

  4. Joanna January 25, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    The point of the Wi-Fi is not completely to gain access to the “World Wide Web” but for the kids to be able to network with each other. This system enables students to talk to each other and their teachers without needing access to the Internet, which is probably lacking in many of the areas these will be distributed.

  5. Greg November 16, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    If you study Peak oil at all and realize it’s implications you’ll realize that a laptop like this is going to not only help the third world. But it could very well be the last and more energy efficient devices in a new small footprint post oil and fossil fuel world. We need to start thinking smaller footprint and reduce our energy usage in the rich countries as well. I bought two of them.

  6. Inhabitat » ONE L... November 12, 2007 at 4:16 am

    […] of design with a conscience that combines social priorities with great, sexy, sustainable design. We’ve written about the XO laptop before, and love that it’s becoming widely available to kids across the globe. So get movin’ […]

  7. Inhabitat » $100 ... November 9, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    […] great example of design with a conscience that combines social priorities with great, sexy design. We’ve written about the $100 laptop before, and love that it’s becoming widely available to kids across the […]

  8. &raqu... October 29, 2007 at 10:10 am

    […] need your feedback about this laptop for children.  Check this.  I am thinking about buying that for Abby for Christmas.  It costs $400 for two laptops.  One […]

  9. Yuff September 29, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    Ya how about giving them food instead or housing

  10. Sky Nyx September 13, 2007 at 1:14 am

    This project is awesome.

    It gives the kids access to a broader pespective of the world from where they come from, of what could be achieved with education and knowledge.

  11. CHRIS MBADUGHA August 26, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    Interested in exploring the posibility for this product to be introduced in West Africa.

  12. Mathieu NONGNI July 21, 2007 at 10:46 am

    It’s with pleasure that i discover such a project in Euro news in my TV set this morning. I jump from my desk and have and exclamation! Finally our schools in rural areas where there is no electricity supply and modern commodities would finally learn about New Tchnologies of Communication and computer literacy.
    I wonder if one day scools from Cameroon in faraway villages where there is no TV signal would nKnow what is a computer.
    We believe that this project would help us in some of our projects which is to fill he gap between schools in urban area and those in rural area as far is computer science is concerned

  13. Nick July 16, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    At one time, copies of books were handwritten. Then, the Gutenberg Press was invented. At the time, an educated and wealthy person may have thought “Why does it matter to the poor that we can now print books. The poor can’t read anyway and plus they have many other problems.” However, the Gutenberg Press helped move the Renaissance along at a feverish pace. Ideas were published which in turn were read by others and they helped create more ideas that were published. In time, the standard of living was improved for many poor people in Europe because religion, science, law, economics, art and many other areas were profoundly changed. The standard of millions of families were improved from one generation to the next. If you look at the poor today, they could in time follow a similar course of improving themselves through communication, knowledge and ideas. In time, they may open e-commerce business, become programmer, or find many other ways to earn a living that none of us can even imagine.

    So, I don’t see the $100 laptop as the end all to proverty. The laptop technology and communication infra-structures in poor countries will need to continue to improve over time. I am sure some will steal and strip the computers for parts. Others will be used for more sinister uses. But, it’s an important step to begin helping the poor take matters into their own hands. To help them think differently, to communicate more freely with each other, and hopefully in time improve their future.

  14. Inhabitat » INTER... June 7, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    […] designer behind the One Laptop Per Child Project, Yves Behar is truly a world-class designer, balancing aesthetics, function, and socially-based […]

  15. Inhabitat » YVES ... June 7, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    […] a huge fan of Mr. Behar’s design for the One Laptop Per Child, but despite the Leaf lamp’s innovative grid-based use of LEDs and heat dissipation system, […]

  16. Sydney May 21, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    I was wondering how you would get one of these laptops right now is it even possible to get one right now because my daughter and her friends at school have been talking about them a lot. They’re school’s computers go slow and most of the kids going to her school dont have computers at home so they have to use the computers at school and it is not a big help if the computers at school go extremly slow, So i was going to buy Matilda and a couple of her friends someof these laptops


  17. vb May 3, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    how do yu buy 1

  18. Michael January 15, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    I really like the idea of an inexpensive LapTop for every child, but what about “One Hunded Dollars to every Child”. How can this be done, you ask?
    Sell the LapTops to people or corporations that can afford them for $200.00. They in turn sponsor a child some where in the world. XO receives their $100.00 for the LapTop and a very deserving child receives $100.00 to help them. You know this is still a band aid fix to these suffering kids. Expand this idea a little further, let’s say the sponsor keeps sponsoring this child and possibly this child’s family with whatever monetary help that they can when they can and in turn get others involved and they do the same. I see on TV all the time where preachers and others are always soliciting money to help these poor kids, but how much of these funds are actually going to the people and places after all the expenses are paid to: 1. Preachers and Evangelists
    2. Paid workers 3.TV Networks 4. And theft… just to name a few. Since we can endow these kids with LapTops and Internet service, we can now introduce them to bank accounts of their own and get funds or donations to them directly, thus cutting out the middle man and starting a system of commerce in these areas. Since we are creating commerce we are at the same time creating distribution hubs, stores, all types of jobs and hopefully some system that will start self dependency.
    I know some people will say this will never work, but I think that it can. I know that there are a lot of details that would have to worked out, but I think that with the right people involved, any thing is possible.
    Remember, GOD is Good Always!!!

  19. Cj January 2, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    its just awsome! and nothing less.

  20. Inhabitat » NEW Y... January 2, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    […] Yves Behar is the founder of San Francisco-based FuseProject, a visionary industrial design and brand strategy firm that has designed and produced such engaging products as the XO Laptop for the One Laptop Per Child program. While not necessarily dubbed as a “green designer,” Mr. Behar’s commitment to a thorough, responsible design process and socially-conscious projects like OLPC demonstrate his committment to thoughtful, thorough design. […]

  21. Lynn December 26, 2006 at 8:23 pm

    It’s easy to assume that introducing computers is the ultimate solution that will help bridge the divide between the developed and developing worlds, but it’s not necessarily the right thing to do. I’m sure it helps, but things won’t be easily resolved by a laptop. There are areas in my country where the children walk many many kilometers to school, sometimes even without decent footwear. There are schools that aren’t properly equipped, where children have to have classes outdoors and share books, notebooks, and pencils. And yes, I agree with everythingisok. It’s not unlikely for people to simply sell the laptops. $100 will indeed be a great help for families.

  22. g510 December 26, 2006 at 7:58 pm

    Excellent! This is clearly a case of giving people a fishing pole, and one that teaches them how to fish!

    Something people need to keep in mind: these machines operate on mesh networks, so kids who are near enough to each other will be able to communicate and collaborate even if there is no internet connectivity. Also, these laptops will be bought by charitable institutions, governmental and private, and handed out free in the countries that want them.

    Something else to keep in mind: Networked person-to-person communication is the greatest democratizing force the world has ever seen. You can be quite sure that DARPA had that in mind when they turned over the military/academic internet to the civilian/commercial world. In doing that, they handed all of humanity one of America’s greatest treasures: the First Amendment. Thus, this little green laptop is a 21st century Trojan Horse: an educational package on the outside, with freedom of speech within.

    So: what will this do to traditional cultures…? If they are the cultures that tie little girls down and cut up their genitalia without benefit of anaesthetics, for the sake of male domination of women, I sincerely hope that these machines will destroy such barbarities with all the force of a herd of charging elephants. If they are cultures in which women are objects to be used by men as breeding machines, with the result of birth rates triple or quadruple the replacement rate, and populations exploding to the point of triggering not only famines but genocidal wars, then I sincerely hope that these little green laptops will blow those barbarianisms to smithereens.

    And in case anyone thinks that my comments in the preceding paragraph are harsh, culturally imperialistic, or bigoted, consider this: After Apartheid was overturned in South Africa, after the black majority gained political power, came the issue of what to do with the worst of the torturers and suchlike from the days of Apartheid. Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu came up with an idea that the world had never heard of before: Truth and Reconciliation. In effect, any member of the old regime could come forward, tell the complete truth of their involvement, and be publicly forgiven. No vengeance, no retaliation, just truth and forgiveness and the healing of the old wounds. It worked. My God!, it actually worked.

    This was one of the greatest advances in the evolution of human morality in the past two thousand years.

    At risk of sounding vaguely heretical, it was in my opinion every bit as important and world-changing as Jesus’ injunction to love thy neighbor as thyself, and the Buddha’s insight that all forms of suffering are based in desire. And it caught on, being used in subsequent conflicts in far-flung places.

    Tutu and Mandela were outstanding men, but simple probability tells us that they cannot have been the only people in their entire society with such sensibilities. In fact, they must have been representative of a fairly large segment of their societies. What this means is that black South African culture and traditions had within them the seeds that sprouted into this enormous leap forward in human morality.

    That, my friends, is something that African culture has already given to the world. And that is the potential that awaits to be unleashed in the remote villages across the entire continent, and by extension, on other continents as well, for at root we are all one family. Tearing down the barbarianisms that subjugate women and others, liberating the potential for historic advances in the conduct of individuals and societies: these are the potentials that will be lliberated once access to networked communication becomes universal.

    What we must do, must do without fail, is to take the steps needed to assure that these channels of communication remain open for the remote regions and peoples to speak out and be heard by the rest of the world, rather than being swamped with a tidal wave of globalization and uniform Western consumerism. And as far as the issue of languages is concerned, there are many idealistic people still working at places such as NSA, where the development of translation software is considered a vital necessity. You can rest assured that in time, perhaps sooner than we expect, it will be possible to translate the numerous languages of the remote regions into English and all the other languages of the industrialized world.

    Some day you may receive email from Nigeria that is not a 419 scam. It may come from a young teenager with an idea. And that idea may prove to be as world-changing as Truth and Reconciliation.

    In a time when we look forward and see the end of cheap energy and the unmistakable signs of climate crisis; when tyranny is normalized and torture is rationalized; when growth of population and consumption levels threatens the viability of the future, when endless local and regional wars break out and burn and escalate, and when it seems that the century ahead will be one of unprecedented struggle against an almost inevitable overshoot and collapse: in times such as these, humanity needs to draw upon every concievable asset in search of whatever solutions can be found. And while many of those solutions will require advanced science and technology, the historic fact of Truth and Reconciliation tells us that there are also vital solutions that are born solely in the minds and hearts of individuals. Ultimately that is the potential of liberating the voices of children in the remote regions: the potential for ideas to come forward that may once again give humanity a viable future. And if that seems like a long-shot or a fuzzy-headed idea, consider that it has happened before, happened again and again, and happened throughout our history.

    We owe the children of today and the citizens of tomorrow nothing less.

  23. everythingisok December 23, 2006 at 12:36 pm

    It is frightening how little research has been done into how the poorest societies in the world will be affected by a sudden injection of technology on this scale. Our technologies work us over completely. They reshape every part of our lives … even the way we think. If MIT wants to drop 100 million laptops from the sky then they have a responsibility to research the entire range of possible affects (good and bad).

    How will social, political, and economic systems in these societies be altered? Will the changes be monitored or controlled?

    Will family, community, or religious structures that have existed for generations be able to withstand the new technology? Do we care?

    How will native languages be affected?

    Is wealth the only obstacle to technological evolution?

    Why do children in the poorest countries need laptops more than children in developed countries? (In 2003 only 3% of children in America owned a laptop)

    Why does the project promote individual ownership and materialism instead of sustainability and community?

    What haven’t they developed a recycling plan for the 100 million computers they plan to produce?

    Will the laptops be fully subsidized by the governments buying into the program? Will anyone be making a profit from the project?

    How will the success of the project be gauged? (Be scared if the answer only points to the number of laptops distributed)

    Will the project stop families from selling their laptops? (When we talk about the poorest people in the world we’re talking about people who live on less than a dollar a day. While a $100 computer is incredibly cheap by Western standards, it’s the equivalent of 6 months worth of income for some people. In very poor countries when a a barefoot child is given a pair of shoes as charity, it’s typical for the family to turn around and sell the shoes.)

    How will the project affect relationships between generations or traditional social structures based on age?

    How much research has been conducted on how the societies will be impacted?

    Will farmers be allowed to strap the laptop to the front of an ox so that they can use the light to plow a field at night?

    And the questions go on and on …

  24. David - In Bali December 22, 2006 at 11:32 pm

    J5, I hear you. I am pro education and believe it to be perhaps the only thing W1 can offer the W3 that frees it from subservience. However the “poorest’ and “most remote” are not who you describe. I live in the (I hate the term) 3rd world, albeit a nice part of it, yet even the poorest on this island would have a hard time possessing such an item with they pressures they face. My complaint then shall be with the terms the “poorest” and the “most remote” (and those descriptions are from the OLPC website), as such people generally DO lack the basics.

    And yes, I made a too easy knee-jerk response. My apologies are offered.

  25. Mary December 21, 2006 at 7:21 pm

    I am very impressed that one laptop per child is trying to put lap tops in the hands of impoverished children. The children of today will be the leaders of tomorrow and you will inspire children to reach for ways to make their lives better and to make a difference for their communities. Best to you as you resolve the little problems that will seem like nothing when you see the look on the faces of our future leaders learning how to navigate a connected lifestyle!

  26. Sue S. December 21, 2006 at 3:36 pm

    I think this a great idea that should continue to be explored and expanded upon.

    For example, the $130.00 asking price is still way more than the average income for most families in, say, rural Africa.

    Distribution logistics are another problem, ask anyone running an aid organization. Even money and medical suppliies (much more necessary commodities) don’t get where they are needed, for complex reasons. Until these types of basic problems are addressed, this initiative may stall, as have so many others.

  27. Maggie van Rooyen December 21, 2006 at 2:23 pm

    Infrastructure in rural Africa is almost non-existent but this could be an incentive for governments to do something about it. I have lived in Africa for almost 50 years and most parents only want the best education for their children but their means are very limited. Anything that can help children tap into vast knowledge banks should be supported but the practicality of the project is dependent on a viable infrastructure and it would be good to know that governments are already planning to make one laptop per child a reality.

  28. John (J5) Palmieir December 21, 2006 at 12:12 pm

    “Call me old fashioned, but I believe a laptop computer would be pretty far down the list of things that truly matter to the intended audience. I’m thinking food, shelter, and education. Get real, people!”

    Disclamer: I work on the project at Red Hat

    Now to the meat of the issue. This quote from the poster David is one of the most ill informed and border line prejudiced statements I have heard from the start of the project. Why is it when people hear 3rd world or developing nations they instantly think of people who have no means of survival? These laptops aren’t going to people who lack the basic needs of life such as water, food, etc. Nations that have been interested in the project like Thailand, Brazil, Lybia, etc. have thriving economies which while not near what one sees in the west, do provide for their people and are ripe for growth. There are starving people everywhere (even in western countries); stopping the OLPC project will not feed them but educating people does have a chance at solving these problems.

    Infrastructure is another problem that is important. Consider the OLPC as part of the cost cutting infrastructure for schools. If internet is available the weath of information at a childs fingertips is priceless but lacking the internet the cost reduction in distributing textbooks alone is compelling. You don’t have to print them – ink and paper are expensive. You don’t have to ship them – books are heavy and expensive to ship. Also in the lack of Internet there is still a mesh network where kids will be able to video confrense with other kids, create content and solve puzzles collaborativly. This is not a traditional laptop at all. In fact it is just a learning device that looks like a laptop.

    I don’t mind critisim of the device or program but I do mind illinformed people jumping to conclutions. Please read up on the OLPC, on the technologies involved and the social issues faced and then critisize in an inteligent manner. Debate is good. I encourage eveyone read the book “The End of Poverty” by Jeffrey Sachs or go to his website as a starting point.

  29. David Carlson December 21, 2006 at 12:02 pm

    Here is a link for anyone interested in the interface of XO:

  30. Sociolingo’s Afri... December 21, 2006 at 11:33 am

    […] Inhabitat & ONE LAPTOP PER CHILD by FuseProject [] It’s still causing controversy, but the $130 laptop project does seem to be coming off. My questions are rather towards the language the materials will be in – everything I have seen is in English – which most children in the world even in so-called English speaking countries do not speak before school. Watch this space …… […]

  31. Perry December 21, 2006 at 10:54 am

    Think of the advancements/changes in the world 5 + years from now that will come from new programmers/human talent with thia new challenge/Tool.

    Everyone seems to think of what it will do To the third world? Given the toos and the will the third world will be put into the first world via a screen and the Internet. Talk about a home office concept

    Let’s see if a First World perscon will command a wage of 75,000 when millions are willing to work in their spare time or for the fun of it.

  32. Shane December 21, 2006 at 10:17 am

    I believe these devices are intended for education, not for recreational web surfing like the typical American child. While it is true that there are many other things that they need more… I believe you have to have some balance in educating a society to help themselves. It’s like the adage goes, “If you give a man a fish, you can feed him for a day. If you teach him to fish, you can feed him for a lifetime.” What if these kids can learn to become better farmers by studying weather and agriculture or the many other useful things they can garner by having these. It can’t just be written off altogether.

  33. David - In Bali December 20, 2006 at 9:35 pm

    “One Laptop per Child—a potent learning tool created expressly for the world’s poorest children living in its most remote environments.”

    Call me old fashioned, but I believe a laptop computer would be pretty far down the list of things that truly matter to the intended audience. I’m thinking food, shelter, and education. Get real, people!

  34. Shane December 20, 2006 at 9:18 pm

    Oh, great, does that mean more scam emails from someone’s Uncle that died and they need to wire to my bank account.

    All kidding aside. It sounds like a great program to me. I think there are impoverished children in every nation that could benefit from these.

    Franklin Solar

  35. anna December 20, 2006 at 7:42 pm

    hats off to the fuse project for taking a stab at the digital gap, and for taking a step in the right direction. if more people/companies identified a need, developed a prototype, and took a chance by going to the market with it, we’d be farther along as a civilization. the million students who will receive these laptops are better off with them than without them, and who knows, may be inspired to become innovators themselves someday!

  36. Adam December 20, 2006 at 6:10 pm

    A bigger problem than how the computers will be used is the $130 million being spent could be going towards more important things like basic needs. You have half the population there living on less than a $1 a day. I am sure the people would rather their government spend the money on roads, electricity, hospitals, jobs, etc…, Education is important but means nothing if you are hungry.

  37. J. December 20, 2006 at 2:19 pm

    Lots of aspects of the program still to be worked out, no doubt about that. BUT even without good (or any, at first) WIFI access, as long as the laptop can be powered, it can ASSIST LEARNING!!

    Of course, this is based on my assumption that the unit comes equipped with a software suite that includes an alphabet, dictionary and some level of encyclopedia; plus, ideally, basic school-type programs — maths, basic science, etc. With that type of “starter set’, children will be able to start the learning process wherever they are. In the beginning, the WIFI aspect – as well as having a “real” teacher and attending school – while obviously critical to ongoing education – could become “secondary” IF the right software is included.

    Just MHO

  38. Jon December 20, 2006 at 12:30 pm

    Like you, I feel that the potential good that the OLPC project can provide far outstrips the other issues that are being debated with respect to the how’s and why’s of the OLPC’s usage. My concern is more along the lines of the design itself. Having been to Tanzania and speaking with the people there I very quickly realized that they live in a much different world than I do.

    The reason cellular technology leapfrogged a generation is because the landlines were being torn down and melted for the copper. People wheelchair bound were thrown from chairs and having their wheelchair stolen to haul supplies, etc. These are real stories from people I spoke with.

    So my concern is more the design of the product. This thing is slick and very modern looking. It LOOKS better and more expensive than $130. Even if these devices get into children’s hands, is having them look the way they do going to attract more attention? I suppose 1M units going to Nigeria could effectively flood the market and make this point moot. But I still question the aesthetic of a product that looks like it should be sitting on my desk next to my iPod in the environment that it is going to.

    In short, is the debate of HOW the OLPC is going to be used going to be moot because of thieves stealing the machines from kids for the gold and other parts inside?

  39. Evan December 20, 2006 at 12:00 pm

    Is it recyclable? Sustainably produced?

  40. Taran Rampersad December 20, 2006 at 11:54 am

    ‘somewhat disappointing simputer’? Umm – I have one. I’m not disappointed.

    Do you have one?

  41. Pascal December 20, 2006 at 10:46 am

    Thanks for this article about this great project. We are trying to support it whereever we can.

    Regards, Pascal

  42. Michelle December 20, 2006 at 8:06 am

    As a South African local, I think it’s great that folk are trying to get the power of computers and the internet to kids! However, African infrastructure is very dodgy when it comes to internet cover – and that makes me wonder how much good the WiFi “ears” are going to be. I live near a major city (Cape Town), yet we still struggle to find coverage here. When we do, we face extremely slow speeds and regular down-time. There’s certainly no real access in the middle of the rural areas, which will likely be targeted for laptop delivery!

    On a positive note though, there are innovations being made in South Africa with regard to providing internet access from the same electrical system that feeds power into each house, and that would go a long way to providing full use of these laptops!

  43. Chris December 20, 2006 at 7:17 am

    I never got the one about the usage argument. I think if they were wise in the distribution plan, they would distribute these laptops to ‘hoods that already have electricity and internet connectivity. Add those two together with a 3rd world economy and you get many internet cafe’s. It’s the primary way to connect to the net for most of the 3rd world. This technology already in place + ever increasing cell phones + OLPC = A possible renaissance in how they react, record and adapt to their environment. I think the ways these technologies are going to be used by the 3rd worlders will be varied and in some cases very surprising and pleasantly unexpected. The bad will come as well, but since the first run isn’t even going to touch on overall PC sales the OLPC people will be able to refine the design as technology improves.

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