One Laptop Per Child
I received 2 XO laptops for development purposes on Friday. What an amazing marvel of technology and Open Source philosophy! Huge respect to the visionaries responsible for this wonderful educational tool (Nicholas Negroponte, Mary Lou Jepsen, Walter Bender, and many others). Actually it looks like a Fisher Price toy, but it's really a full featured Linux based computer.
Okay, they cost $200 each - whereas they were originally touted as the $100 laptop for all the children of the world - but the project was somewhat derailed by companies like Intel (who were originally part of the marketing effort, but instead manufactured their own netbook, the Classmate, and undermined and competed against the OLPC's efforts in a breach of ethics... otherwise known as "free market competition".) So some countries which had placed large orders canceled; while other entities (Wayan Vota of olpcnews.com) railed and rallied against the vision of Nicholas Negroponte and, in my opinion, did a lot of damage to the credibility of the project.
But hey, for $200 you get a tiny, fully functional and colorful laptop with loads of educational software, a screen that you get can read in full sunlight, great battery life, a form factor and weight that you can use literally /anywhere/ (and the screen flops over so you can use it in E-Book mode), a built-in webcam, wifi networking, water resistant, rugged and best of all, no moving parts. Suitable for any conditions in Africa or the Arctic.
And in the closed source proprietary market, $200 will only cover the cost of the M$ operating system.
OLPC have already got an installed userbase of well over half a million laptops, and a large community of support from developers, educators and integrators.
The first thing I did when I got online was download Corey Doctorow's "Little Brother" so I could test the E-Book functionality. Wow! Great book! and it is so cool being able to sit in the sun and work or read on the laptop!
Yes it's first gen and still in beta, but I've been waiting for something like this since I read Neal Stephenson's "Diamond Age" in 1999. That's a must read for anyone interested in OLPC development.