CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- The $100 laptop computers that Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers want to get into the hands of the world's children would be durable, flexible and self-reliant.
The machines' AC adapter would double as a carrying strap, and a hand crank would power them when there's no electricity. They'd be foldable like traditional notebook PCs, and carried like slim lunchboxes.
For outdoor reading, their display would be able to shift from full color to glare-resistant black and white.
And surrounding it all, the laptops would have a rubber casing that closes tightly, because "they have to be absolutely indestructible," said Nicholas Negroponte, the MIT Media Lab leader who offered an update on the project recently.
Negroponte hatched the $100 laptop idea after seeing children in a Cambodian village benefit from having notebook computers at school that they could also tote home to use on their own.
Those computers had been donated by a foundation run by Negroponte and his wife. He decided that for kids everywhere to benefit from the educational and communications powers of the Internet, someone would have to make laptops inexpensive enough for officials in developing countries to purchase en masse. At least that's Negroponte's plan.
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