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What is Intel’s Problem? Towards a pledge for IT and Economic Freedom

——–warning: There may be a teeny bit of politics in this blog about economic development—–
 
People with a $100 notebook computer will get the computer they deserve,” he smiles.
 
Compare and contrast. I can’t vouch for a laptop I haven’t seen yet, but I am willing to bet Prabath has a clue

Anyone who has the basic understanding of the level of IT penetration in developing nations and the reasons for those poor figures can give plenty of reasons for their introduction.

From the $ 100 laptop FAQ Page:

Why not a desktop computer, or—even better—a recycled desktop machine?
Desktops are cheaper, but mobility is important, especially with regard to taking the computer home at night. Kids in the developing world need the newest technology, especially really rugged hardware and innovative software. Recent work with schools in Maine has shown the huge value of using a laptop across all of one’s studies, as well as for play. Bringing the laptop home engages the family. In one Cambodian village where we have been working, there is no electricity, thus the laptop is, among other things, the brightest light source in the home.

The brightest light source. You heard that Mr.Barrett?

Tell you what – when these machines are available I will buy one and Nidahas can choose where to distribute it in Sri Lanka. That’s a pledge for 2006. Moving beyond aid and towards economic development.
 
Oh darn I can’t: apparently only large scale educational projects will be able to buy and distribute these laptops. Come on MIT there must be another way to aggregate orders so you have enough money for a production run. You’re MIT- you’re the smartest people in the world. Ask George Soros or something. What about joining Unitus and working out a microloan program?
 
When I was in Sri Lanka a couple of years ago my friend Rana asked me to take photographs of his family and send them to him when I got home. He couldn’t afford a camera. Rana drives a van owned by someone else for a living. Would Intel have him rent a PC, as well, because of the upfront costs involved? 
 
We’re talking about fundamentals of access. My son is nine weeks old today. If I lived in a “third world country” I would certainly hope he gets the computer he deserves in future. That would be the one we could get our hands on.
 
The majority of British computer programmers cut their teeth on a sub $200 machine, the ZX-81, and that was more than 20 years ago. Many of these people are now senior software engineers in Silcon Valley.
 
Nathan Torkington learnt on a Commodore-64.
 
Compare with Murugan Pal, who “never saw a computer til I was 21
 
We all spent over $1000 for a computer throughout most of the 80s and 90s. Intel did well out it, as did Microsoft and a host of others. But just because that’s the way it is, doesn’t mean that’s the way it always will be. We’re talking about lowering the barriers to entry.
 
The final irony – Andy Grove has been known to argue that the US faces economic meltdown because of a lack of people with suitable engineering qualifications.
 
 

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7 Responses

  1. James: laptop production is already in the works. I remember beta news cut the story.

    Cheap laptops will certainly help students – primarily in 3rd world countries, let alone our poor students who bugger themselves into debt to complete a degree course.

    Once these machines hit into the main stream community in citys like bombay, bangalore, madras etc, the comman man, now has the chance to raise their children with knowledge. With knowledge those kids will figure out the next wave for themselves. We need to do our part, then they will do the rest !!

  2. Thanks for making us heard :-)

    Btw, I can understand Murugan’s situation – I was 17 when I touched a keyboard. That need not be the case for the youngsters of today.

  3. thanks prabath. the experience of you and murugan perhaps shows that children in emerging geographies dont need computers in order to contribute, intel or otherwise. just a good education!

    computer science without wintel. its possible.

    maths, science and language skills are likely most important.

    i agree PD!

  4. Well, they make it sound like there will be some set-asides for developers. I’d like to think some education ministry could hook up a “two for one” deal where you pay $200 and you get a laptop, and you have paid for another kids laptop, or maybe the manufacturer can make OEMs available, though probably a bit more than a $100 because of distribution costs. :)

    As for great engineers coming from humble backgrounds . . . I think there is something to be gained in not having the world handed to you on a silver platter. I’m lucky, because as a kid, I had acess to a computer. Sure, it was a Commodore 64, and I later had to chose between a “family trip to Disney World” and an Amiga A500. (Chose the latter …)

    But, when you have to squeeze the most out of what you’ve got, you have a challenge, that drives inventiveness. I think the $100 laptop ought to help most kids learn more efficiently, and the gearheads among them are going to be seriously inspired to tinker with dreams of something more.

    P.S. The Commodore 64 was a $200 machine. Sure, there has been inflation, but to those who think the HDL is overly ambituous … we have built some very good computers before, and sold them for very low prices. :)

    -danny

  5. right on danny. its all about ability to tinker…



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