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PCs for the Poor - As Good As Their Hype?

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Technologists are at odds over how to bridge the digital divide. What one group calls the ultimate solution, another dismisses as "the scam of the century", reports Waleed al-Shobakky.

At the 2005 World Economic Forum in Switzerland a soft-spoken academic made an announcement that sent seismic waves across the computer industry. Nicholas Negroponte, then director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab, spoke of making laptops available at US$100 for schoolchildren in developing nations.

The price was not the only big news. Negroponte named companies that had agreed to collaborate on what would become the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project.

Notably, the list did not include Microsoft and Intel, the world's largest software and microchip manufacturers, respectively.

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