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One Laptop per Child (OLPC) Program and the Development of the XO Laptop

written by: •edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 10/1/2008

Learn about a green laptop that was designed for children in developing countries.

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    One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is an education project developed by Professor Nicholas Negroponte from MIT. He was inspired to start the project in 2002 after witnessing how connected laptops completely transformed the lives of families and their children living in a remote Cambodian village. From then on, Negroponte realized the great potential for children if they each had a laptop. This notion spawned the One Laptop per Child program and the development of the XO laptop.

    OLPC’s mission is to provide laptops to around two billion children living in developing countries in order to create means of learning, self-expression and empowerment. Many developing countries have insufficient funds to meet the educational needs of every child. Some of them have only $20 per child, compared to an average of $7,500 for each child in the United States. By giving children XO laptops, OLPC is giving them the opportunity to connect to the global village, learn about other cultures and share their experiences of their own.

    The XO laptop

    The XO laptop, designed by Yves Behar, really pushes beyond the boundaries of portable computing because it doesn’t cost much (around $180); it is made from green materials and is low on energy consumption. Designed with developing countries in mind, the XO is prepared for everything from extreme environmental conditions like high temperatures and high levels of humidity. The XO runs on Linux, a free, open-source operating system. It has a user friendly graphic interface, Sugar, which gets around the issue of local languages and technical support. What’s more it’s fun to use.

    With its range of 400 customizable colors, the XO is only about the size of a text book and looks like it should be in a kindergarten playroom, but it is certainly no toy. The 7.5 inch screen has both a transmissive full-color mode and a reflective, high resolution mode so it can be conveniently used either indoors or outdoors. The mode is changed by simple pressing a button above the keyboard. The screen can be manipulated like a convertible tablet so that it can be held horizontally for gaming or vertically for reading. There is an SD card slot under the screen for external storage. The XO has three USB ports, a charging jack, a 640 x 480 pixel resolution webcam and a microphone. Microphone and speaker and Ethernet inputs are positioned at the edges of the screen. The laptop uses only about 2 watts of power during normal use.

    Specifications

    • Processor: AMD Geode LX-700, 433MHz
    • Graphics: Integrated graphics on CPU
    • Storage: 1GB NAND flash
    • Memory: 256MB DDR RAM
    • OS: Red Hat Fedora (highly customized)
    • Screen: 7.5-inch LCD, 1200x900. Sunlight readable. Convertible to tablet.
    • Ports: Headphone output jack, Microphone input jack, Three USB 2.0 ports
    • Webcam: VGA 640x480, 30fps
    • Battery: 4-cell 12V 3100mAh LiFePO4
    • Wireless: 802.11b/g Marvell with mesh networking. Operates when CPU is powered down.
    • Charger: Input: 120-240V AC switching, 0.6A, 50-60Hz. Output: 12V DC, 1.25A
    • Input: Keyboard and triple-wide touchpad
    • Gamepad: Direction pad + 4 buttons
    • Weight: Approximately 3.2lbs with 4-cell Lithium battery.