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Mass production kicks off for XO laptops--finally

After some delays, Taiwan's Quanta Computer starts producing the much-anticipated computer for needy children.

Production of XO laptop
Workers at Quanta Computer's manufacturing plant in Changshu, China, begin mass production of the XO laptop. One Laptop per Child

Following a number of delays, the One Laptop per Child Foundation's much-awaited XO laptop for needy kids has finally gone into mass production. Early Tuesday (local time), Taiwan's Quanta Computer started producing the green-and-white computer in its new Changshu manufacturing center, two hours northwest of Shanghai.

The commencement of mass production means children in developing nations could have the rugged, open-source laptops in hand starting this month. The OLPC has already announced orders for kids in Uruguay and Mongolia. (Residents of the U.S. and Canada participating in the Give 1 Get 1 program--which donates an XO to a child in a developing nation for every machine sold online--are expected to start getting laptops in December.)

"Today represents an important milestone in the evolution of the One Laptop per Child project," MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte, founder and chairman of the nonprofit One Laptop per Child, said in a statement Tuesday. "Against all the naysayers, and thanks to great partners such as Quanta, we have developed and now manufactured the world's most advanced and greenest laptop and one designed specifically to instill a passion for learning in children."

Quanta has recently increased its manufacturing capacity, and says XO production will ramp up over time.

The XO laptop, while generally heralded by many for its good intentions and potential impact, has hit its share of snags on the road to adoption. In addition to production delays, which give competing low-cost machines time to gain traction, the price point, originally set for $100, has crept up closer to $200.