MIT Working to Create the $12 Laptop

Super cheap computer being designed at MIT

A new project to create a $12 computer is underway at MIT, the same University that spawned the One Laptop Per Child non-profit laptop.

The PCs will be loosely based on Apple 2 machines, first unveiled over 30 years ago, and the team are actively recruiting enthusiasts of the retro computer to help with development.

The Apple 2 was the first mass-produced PC, which sold over 5 million units. It was extremely popular for educational use in the 80s, but is set to get a new lease on life.

Rather than a laptop, the unit will act as a desktop computer and plug directly into a standard television.

“We see this as a model that could increase economic opportunities for people in developing countries,” says Derek Lomas, one of the researchers working on the project, speaking to the Boston Herald.

“If you just know how to type, that can be the difference between earning $1 an hour instead of $1 a day.”

The OLPC foundation released the low-cost XO laptop late last year with a mandate to teach children in third-world countries how to use computers.

The laptop was originally intended to cost just $100, but several incremental price-hikes saw this climb to $188.

The group has recently announced details of the second generation XO, which it claims will cost $75 at its launch in 2010.

Once production volumes increase this price could fall even further, with OLPC chairman, Nicholas Negroponte claiming: “To anticipate them costing $20 each is not out of the question.”