Notebooks for $100?

Once every decade or so, a true gem of an idea becomes a reality — and this time, it’s appeared to have hit the computer laptop industry — in a big way.

Thanks to the vision of Nicholas Negroponte, founder of MIT’s Media Lab, and the innovative design and structure ideas of a handful of his colleagues, a lightweight, $100 laptop with wireless networking is set to arrive in Third World countries — soon.

After Negroponte created two schools in Cambodia in 1999 and supplied laptops for the students, he was so delighted with the results, he didn’t stop there.

Plans are for Third World governments to purchase cheap laptops in bulk, for $100 each, and distribute to “millions” — providing education and communication to those who have never had it.

Among the plans: This discount notebook will be light; have no disk drives, but a gigabyte of main memory, using flash memory for storage; and be battery-free, using a crank to get your information loaded. Oh, and mesh networking capability is also in the works.

The folks at E Ink in Cambridge, Mass., plan to make a plastic, tough, flexible video screen; The operating system will be free open source Linux; and Advanced Micro Devices has agreed to provide a microprocessor.

Nobel Prize nominees, anyone?
Henrik Stigell