MIT Team Working On a $12 Apple (II) Desktop

August 6, 2008

Slashdot | MIT Team Working On a $12 Apple (II) Desktop

PC Pro: News: MIT working on £6 Apple desktop

A new project to create a £6 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.

Designers on quest to build $12 computer –

Derek Lomas, Jesse Austin-Breneman and other designers want to create a computer that Third World residents can buy for less than you probably spend on lunch.

“We see this as a model that could increase economic opportunities for people in developing countries,” said Lomas, part of a team that’s trying to develop a $12 computer at this month’s MIT International Development Design Summit. “If you just know how to type, that can be the difference between earning $1 an hour instead of $1 a day.”

Jeremy and I were talking around this issue last night. He sent me a link to an article that claims that the OLPC’s a con, because it was never about constructionism. I find the notion silly. Constructionism as it was developed (not used) was based on using technology, so the two are wedded. Also, it is MIT, so of course it has to have a toy attached. And bowing in to allow for Microsoft to take it over is just fate. Apple offered their OS for free, but were denied, I’m told, because they wouldn’t open source everything. So now they pay for Microsoft. Hubris crushes all.

To me, the OLPC/XO was never the point. Julia D and I have talked for years about Zero Cost Computing before the OLPC came a long… so it was fun to watch someone do all the work. Sure they’ve failed in a pretty spectacular way. Sure it was an hegomonizing act of technology and pedagogy. But it sure was neat! They tried and have failed. Now more people can try, and fail less. This AppleII group is cool because it is a geek project. OLPC tried to be other than geek, but couldn’t pull it off. I’d like to see a proper educatator’s project some day too.

What is best about all this, is that any time you disrupt the corporate culture, even just a little bit, the world becomes an infinitely bit more human.

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