OLPC Announces "Give One Get One" Laptop Sale

Early adopters, geeks, technology bargain hunters and idealists rejoice: One Laptop Per Child is opening its high tech stash to private consumers, at least temporarily, in an effort to help get their project off the ground now that production has begun. For two weeks beginning November 12th, you can purchase one of their green and white, portable, solar powered, open source laptops with the super-bright screen, for yourself for a tax-deductible $399, and a second laptop will be given to a needy kid somewhere else.

The One Laptop Per Child program has had its share of critics and setbacks over the past several years. For one thing, the “$100 laptop” is now the “$188 laptop” due to parts costs. Now a bigger problem is that that countries are dragging their collective feet on handshake agreements to purchase the laptops. Nicholas Negroponte, the guy behind OLPC, tells Newsweek,

“I had a handshake agreement with the leaders of three countries–Thailand, Nigeria and Brazil–all agreeing to buy a million laptops. That got it going. But between a handshake and a closed deal is a world of difference. Everybody has a pit in their stomach when it comes to going first.”

It’s not that the laptops are poorly made—in fact, a lot of the technology is more advanced than what you can get on the market today, and includes a stylus area, a built-in camera, and greatly increased wifi range. But the ambition and somewhat counterintuitive nature of the project continue to make it a difficult sell. (The most common knee-jerk criticism we hear/read from skeptics—and even countries—runs along the line of, “Poor kids need food, not access to the Internet!”)

“Give One, Get One” [Newsweek]

overview of the laptop’s technology
footage of the laptop in action [CBS News – warning: Lesley Stahl]


Edit Your Comment

  1. jrdnjstn78 says:

    So are these going to kids in other countries or here in the U.S.??

    I know alot of poor kids who eat quite well because their parents get a billion dollars a month in food stamps.

  2. Falconfire says:

    wow the more this thing goes along the worse they become. Between turning down Apples help (and completely free use of the OS) only to hook up with Microsoft 2 years later, jacking the cost up almost twice the price that it was to be (and thus defeating the whole POINT of the 100 dollar laptop.) and now this where its little more than a trick to get you to buy two instead of the company it’s self donating one…

    They have some balls.

  3. MercuryPDX says:

    @jrdnjstn78: FTA
    (Negroponte says the first ones will probably go to Peru.)

    From their Wiki:
    The OLPC commitment is with elementary education in the developing countries.

    So I’m guessing no.

  4. DadCooks says:

    Before posters start spreading untruths, they need to go to the OLPC site (www.laptop.org) and read the facts (particularly what companies are doing what).

    These appear to be great little laptops and the Give 1 Get 1 Program to be worthwhile. However, I predict that a bunch of the “Get 1s” will end up on eBay and totally negate the purpose of the program.

  5. disavow says:

    @Falconfire: They’ve said from the start that sales would take a while to grow before improved economies of scale could make the $100 target a reality. And it’s a non-profit; they’re probably breaking even at best as it is. Who can blame them for wanting to jump-start things?

  6. Skiffer says:

    Ah yes, just what the impoverished children of the world need – the ability to download porn and run 419 scams…


  7. SpaceCat85 says:

    Between turning down Apples help (and completely free use of the OS) only to hook up with Microsoft 2 years later…

    @Falconfire: What are you talking about? While Microsoft may have shown interest after Apple got turned away, it’s been pretty well-publicized on tech sites for months that they’re using a modified version of Fedora Linux because they want something that can be openly tinkered with.

    The original software is free, though they did obviously spend something for their own R&D to adapt it to the laptop hardware & their project goals.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I doubt that beneficiaries of aid will turn anything useful away — be it food or technology. Telling them they should get food rather than educational tools (when they feel that you can give both anyway since you can afford to have both or more) is a condescending thing.

  9. ky2440 says:

    Sorry no Microsoft inside yet. Maybe Intel soon though..

    Mahatma Gandhi:

    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you….then you win….

  10. thepounder says:

    For $399, I’ll buy the Give One Get One deal.

    The most important point here has nothing to do with Microsoft or Apple or anything, it’s about the children it goes to.

    There’s far too many nay-sayers about this. Just support it’s purpose because that’s the most important thing here.

    I just wish we could find out where our “Give One” half of the deal goes once it’s shipped, but it’s cool if we never know.

  11. CyGuy says:

    As to the tax deduction, they say to to consult you’re tax adviser, but don’t plan on taking more than a $200 deduction. You are only donating $200 and the other $199 is effectively a purchase. In fact, depending on state and local tax codes you may in fact owe sales/use tax on the one they send you.

  12. Falconfire says:

    @SpaceCat85: They recently modified the machine to run a stripped down version of XP for third world countries. It was all over the place a few months ago including on Gizmodo.

    @disavow: No from the start it was going to be 100 flat. That only changed recently as it became increasingly apparent that other influences where modifying this. I have been watching this develop for years, and even worked with the OS a bit to check it out mostly because this would be more beneficial to US education atm than it would third world nations, many of whom don’t even have the infrastructure to run these machines, especially after the original hand cranked design all of a sudden morphed into a additional item for people to buy.

  13. UnStatusTheQuo says:

    Well they had to charge more than $100 for these sales. It would look bad if the XP installation was so plagued with virues, spyware, etc. that the security software to keep it clean would cost more than the machine itself.

  14. MercuryPDX says:

    After going to the site and reading what they are, and what they do, I have to wonder why any adult would want one. It really is a “Fisher Price My First Laptop”, right down to the software.

    Looking at the interface demo, it’s apparent that these would only work best in groups, allowing a bunch of kids to do shared activities (Surf, draw, and write together). So unless you’re buying more than one it seems like you’re defeating the “collaborative learning” aspect of the machine (which is the only real draw IMHO).

  15. FLConsumer says:

    I think I’ll wait for ASUS’ lightweight cheap laptop to come out. This certainly looks interesting, but still not sure on it. I do like the idea of a cheap ruggedized laptop. Now only if mobile phone manufacturers would spend the extra $0.05 it would take to seal up their phones from moisture, I’d be happy.

  16. thepounder says:

    There are so many folks missing the point of these laptops.

    As MERCURYPDX said, these are indeed for collaborative learning… in third world countries.

    From a Consumer standpoint, it’s up to you and I to make a donation to get these in the hands of poor kids who can use them. These aren’t necessarily the newest gadget for us first world tech geeks to play with and gripe about because it hasn’t got this or that. The kids who get them don’t care about all that, they just want to learn.

  17. Charles Duffy says:

    @MercuryPDX: A “Fisher Price My First Laptop” that does a bunch of things that today’s professional, “serious” systems don’t do. It’s meant for kids, absolutely — and the case design was intentionally created to deter adults from using them, to reduce the motivation to repurpose equipment donated as childrens’ educational hardware — but within that context, it’s first-rate. It doesn’t stop at precanned “educational software”, but is also meant to support exploration of how the system itself works (as opposed to the sealed-box appproach of much commercial software) — and as such, can help to bootstrap a technically proficient generation in areas where not only equipment access but access to information and learning opportunities were previously at a premium.

    (Not that the case design is the only security measure in place, by a long shot… but that’s a separate discussion).

  18. QuarterlyProphet says:

    Granted, I haven’t spent a lot of time looking at this, but I like the sound of the offer. I’m trying to head off to college this spring, and I only own a desktop. This seems like a cheap way to get a second computer I can tote around and write with, take notes, and maybe do a little web surfing. It’s not a primary computer, by any stretch, but on first look, it seems like a viable barebones second one.

  19. notallcompaniesarebad says:

    Few thoughts: the whole $399 will not be tax deductible. Only the part that you don’t get anything for (similar to when you donate to PBS and get a $5 mug in return, you can only deduct your donation, less $5). So I’d be probably $200 will be deductible.
    I’m signing up for the deal. I have a nokia N800 that I use for random internet access around the apartment. This could be similar to that, but with a full keyboard. Would I pay $400 for one? Probably not. Would I pay $400 for one knowing that someone else gets one somewhere else? Sign me up!
    I agree that there is a lot the developed world can be doing for the developing in terms of more basic needs. However, the idea that we can make sustainable improvements really impresses me. Didn’t someone say something about teaching a man to fish?

  20. thepounder says:

    @notallcompaniesarebad: I’m with you on the whole “teach a man to fish” theory.

    Certainly, while a poor country requires food support there’s no reason to not get these little learning laptops out there so the younger generation can learn how to grow their own crops while they’re learning about technology that would have otherwise not made it to them for years to come. The OLPC is a great initiative; I just wish more folks got the point of it.

  21. Mary says:

    You can give poor kids food.

    Or you can attack the root of poverty, which is under-education. If we educate children, maybe they’ll start SOLVING problems instead of putting off the symptoms.

    This seems a no brainer to me. I think this project is genius, and I’m going to be asking my husband exactly what I need to do to convince him that it’s worth it for us to buy one, so that we can also donate one to a needy kid. I don’t care what country they’re in.

    Education is the solution to a lot of problems.

  22. SilverStar95 says:

    If I can get my hands on the free scratch, I want to buy 3 of these things. One for me, one for my mother and one for my aunt. I already have a powerful enough desktop system, but having a decent laptop just for fiddling around with, learning linux on, would be great for me. My mother just wants to surf the internet some and do word processing and the like. And my aunt.. well, she breaks a computer any time she tries using it.

    Even in schools in north america, something like this would be wonderful. Cut out on the need for textbooks, by using digital textbooks. Computer labs can be totally retooled to be for higher education purposes, instead of just for common printing outlets for students to print up their homework. And a LOT of children, especially under the 7th grade, still don’t have their own access to a computer, which means they’re seriously left out in the modern world and education.

    Children don’t need high end, multi-core gaming computers, to do word processing, edutainment titles and internet research. As well, because of how the screens work, they could be used as digital books, even outside, reading on a bench or under a tree. One of the most under-funded parts of any school, is the school library. So, this would allow for a unified method for digitizing and distributing library books to all the students, at any time, without having to worry about loss, damage, or the books being kept late.

    Those of you who just scoff at the idea of this, saying it’s too childish or underpowered to be any good, keep in mind: These ~400MHz laptops are about as powerful as desktops were, when Win2k launched. And as an added bonus, because these ARE linux, it means there might be some user-simplistic programs coming out, to better enhance the very features these laptops are meant to demonstrate.