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Arvi Krishnaswamy

Entrepreneur and Tech Executive

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Nicholas Negroponte's dream of 'One Laptop per child ' is inching closer towards reality.

2B1, the children's laptop from One Laptop per Child—a potent learning tool created expressly for the world's poorest children living in its most remote environments.

Here are some extracts from an interesting article from CNN :

"Nicholas, it looks like a science project," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said to Nicholas Negroponte, as he demonstrated one of its first versions. Skeptics abounded when, in early 2005, Negroponte left MIT's Media Lab, which he founded and ran for 20 years, aiming to build a supercheap portable computer for the world's poor children. But today Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative is preparing to launch its dream machine.

Negroponte has also seduced the leaders of Argentina, Brazil, Nigeria and - until the recent coup - Thailand with his vision. Each says he wants at least a million for his country's children. And serious talks are underway with Ethiopia, Indonesia, Mexico, Vietnam and others.

Now called XO, the device has evolved into something both practical and sleek. Gone is the second prototype's hand-cranked generator, meant to free students from the need for an electric plug. (One broke off in Kofi Annan's hands when he demonstrated it at a UN tech conference last year.) Instead, the XO comes with a separate fist-sized generator. You pull a cord to make juice, like starting an old lawn mower.

The XO comes with tiny stereo speakers and three USB slots. It can be used as a conventional laptop or - with the screen twisted around - as a booklike tablet. The screen itself is a feat of energy-conserving innovation. As necessary, it can be read like paper with entirely reflected light or be illuminated completely from within. The user experience is also coolly state-of-the-art. A few bars by U2 play as the machine starts up. The Wikimedia Foundation, among others, is working on content.

If current plans hold, One Laptop Per Child will start building millions of XOs next summer and will ship at least 50 million a year by the end of 2008. That is more than all the laptops sold worldwide last year. The initial price will be closer to $150 but is projected to drop to $100 by the end of 2008.