The Massachusetts Institute of Technology says it will launch a $100 (£58) Linux-based laptop prototype this November to help schools in developing countries adopt electronic learning.
The machines will also be targeted at schools in advanced countries that want to greatly boost the number of children who own their own laptop. MIT expects commercial versions of the machine to start appearing at the end of next year.
MIT plans to unveil its prototype at the World Summit on the Information Society on 17 November in Tunis, Tunisia. The summit is a United Nations body and meets on a regular basis.
The 500MHz laptop will run a stripped-down version of the Linux operating system.
To overcome the lack of power access in many towns and villages in poor nations, the laptop can be powered either by an AC adaptor or a wind-up mechanism.
The machine will also be ruggedised and Wi-Fi-enabled, and is expected to use an AMD processor.
Governments will be invited to buy the laptops on behalf of schoolchildren.