Culture

Gateway auctions celebrity laptop

Ted Waitt, Bill Gates and Craig Barrett signed the laptop being auctioned to raise money for victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. One analyst calls it a "nice gesture," but short on the funds.

Gateway is betting a relic of the Windows XP launch will bring in big money to help victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The notebook, a Solo 3450, was signed by Gateway CEO Ted Waitt, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Intel CEO Craig Barrett on Oct. 24, during an event the evening before Windows XP's official kick-off. The three executives had gathered at the Gateway Country store in New York's Columbus Circle area of Manhattan.

The auction is silent, meaning bidders will not be able to check on the progress. "Simply, the highest bid wins," Gateway spokesman Greg Lund said. Gateway had no set expectation for the auction. "We simply want to raise as much as we can," he said.

Proceeds of the auction will go to NPower New York, a nonprofit technology service provider.

"This group we're aligned with, NPower NY, just does tech work for nonprofits in New York," Lund said. "They've really come to the forefront helping nonprofits in New York get back on their feet, either those in close proximity to the Word Trade Center or...helping people in the Trade Center area."

"Along with our team of volunteers and technology assistance providers, NPower NY has been hard at work helping New York City nonprofits get back on their feet with the right technology," Barbara Chang, the group's executive director, said in a statement.

Gateway will take bids through noon on Nov. 19 at its charity auction site

The notebook is a standard Solo 3450, with a 750MHz Pentium III processor, 12.1-inch display, 192MB of RAM, 20GB hard drive and Windows XP.

"Good for them," said ARS analyst Matt Sargent. "This is very much what Gateway is about. They are very much a grassroots-efforts type company. They're very, very strong in smaller organizations, like nonprofits and state and local governments. Gateway is kind of like the Ben & Jerry's of the computer industry, kind of helping out the little guy."

But Technology Business Research analyst Tim Deal did not share Sargent's enthusiasm.

"It's a nice gesture, but I think it would be more appropriate for computer vendors to continue donating larger amounts of money and, potentially, PCs for some of the companies that are having to rebuild their infrastructure."

Lund acknowledged that Gateway as of yet had made no other contribution to the victims in New York, but he said, "Ted Waitt had made a donation personally through his foundation." On Sept. 12, the Waitt Family Foundation donated $100,000 to the New York Red Cross to aid in the relief effort.