I recently attended a great talk by Mary Lou Jepsen, the CTO of One Laptop per Child, an amazing organization founded by renown computer scientist Nicholas Negroponte that is developing a $100 laptop running Linux which they plan on distributing to children in developing countries around the world. Mary Lou’s expertise is in display technology and she talked about the challenges in keeping the price of the laptop under $100, while maintaining optimal performance and low power consumption, often in very harsh conditions. They recently finished building their first batch of laptops.
The proposed $100 machine will be a Linux-based, with a dual-mode displayâ€”both a full-color, transmissive DVD mode, and a second display option that is black and white reflective and sunlight-readable at 3Ã— the resolution. The laptop will have a 500MHz processor and 128MB of DRAM, with 500MB of Flash memory; it will not have a hard disk, but it will have four USB ports. The laptops will have wireless broadband that, among other things, allows them to work as a mesh network; each laptop will be able to talk to its nearest neighbors, creating an ad hoc, local area network. The laptops will use innovative power (including wind-up) and will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data.
Check out their FAQ for more info on this project and you can join the discussion via the OLPC Wiki.