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Bringing $100 laptops to developing world

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Hardware

In rural Cambodian villages with no electricity, nighttime darkness is pierced by the glow from laptop computers that children bring home from school.

The kids belong to three schools that Nicholas Negroponte of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has equipped with inexpensive notebook computers.

"When the kids bring them home and open them up, it's the brightest light source in the home."

They're recruiting corporate partners to join MIT in designing and mass-producing basic, durable laptops costing $100 or less that hundreds of millions of children worldwide could use at school and home.

"The key is to create something affordable and sufficiently robust to protect against voltage surges, against dust, and against being dropped, and against all the perils of the Internet," Hammond said. "Those things are more important if the nearest computer tech is three villages away and you don't have an air-conditioned office to work in."

Andy Carvin, director of the Newton-based nonprofit Digital Divide Network, applauds the project's goals, but the $100 laptop project still faces many hurdles.

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