Sunday night's 60 Minutes, usually a show at the tail end of the technology bell curve, weighed in on a surprisingly relevant topic--Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child initiative. If you've been following the MIT professor's story, you'll know he set out several years ago to develop a cheap laptop for children in third-world countries, featuring a low-power AMD chip, flash memory instead of a traditional hard drive, and even built-in Wi-Fi and a Webcam.
Closer to $175 than the originally projected $100, the systems are being rolled out in small test markets. We actually got some hands-on time with one a couple of months ago at the, and it felt surprisingly sturdy for a subnotebook, although its toylike qualities can't be denied.
The drama of last night's 60 Minutes profile came from the nonprofit OLPC's corporate competition--namely the low-cost Classmate PC from Intel--with a similar rugged design and carrying handle. "Intel should be ashamed of itself," Negroponte told 60 Minutes' Lesley Stahl. "It's just--it's just shameless." While Intel Chairman Craig Barrett told her, "We're not trying to drive him out of business. We're trying to bring capability to young people."