A $100 hand-cranked Linux-based laptop is to be used by schoolchildren in poorer nations under a UN-supported educational programme.
The machine is expected to be delivered towards the end of 2006, after being unveiled by the US MIT Media Lab at this week’s UN internet summit in Tunisia.
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The not-for-profit One Laptop One Child scheme has already won government support from six countries which intend to distribute the laptops, including Brazil and Thailand.
The scheme will place a manufacturing order for the machines in the first quarter of next year. The low-power display can provide a black and white screen for 40 minutes from one minute of cranking.
A colour screen is possible through more cranking. The machine has a 500MHz processor, 1GB of memory, and built-in wireless data capabilities.
AMD, Google, News Corp and Red Hat have donated technology and other resources to the project.
Wind-up radios are already popular in Africa in places where there is a lack of an affordable or accessible electricity supply, but this is the first time cheap wind-up laptops will have been distributed on such a wide scale.