Two years after Nicholas Negroponte left MIT Media Lab to found One Laptop Per Child, the first XO laptops are finally rolling off a production line in China, the organization announced Tuesday.
Taiwan-based Quanta Computing is manufacturing 15,000 machines a month at its new Changshu manufacturing facility outside of Shanghai. OLPC said volume will ramp up over time. The new plant doubles Quanta's manufacturing capacity.
"Today represents an important milestone in the evolution of the One Laptop Per Child project," said Negroponte. "Against all the naysayers and thanks to great partners such as Quanta, we have developed and now manufactured the world's most advanced and greenest laptop and one designed specifically to instill a passion for learning in children."
First Machines to Uruguay
With the start of production, OLPC said, children in developing nations will begin getting laptops this month. But a government association in Uruguay -- the only group to have definitively placed an order -- has said it's being told it won't receive laptops until December, Wayan Vota, editor of the OLPCNews Web site, said in a telephone interview.
It has been a long and winding road from OLPC's founding in Cambridge in 2005 to having the green machines roll off an assembly line in China. Negroponte has spent most of the past two years trying to cut deals with leaders of developing nations to buy millions of laptops to distribute for free to children. Few of those deals actually panned out.
Vota said Negroponte has been transitioning to a different philanthropy model. Rather than having governments purchase the machines themselves, OLPC is urging Western consumers and foundations to donate machines to the developing world through programs such as Give One, Get One (G1G1), in which U.S. and Canadian consumers spend $400 for two machines -- one to keep, the other to go to a child in the developing world.
G1G1 Success Crucial
The production launch is key to the success of the G1G1 program. OLPC is only running the program for two weeks, from November 12 to 26. With machines now in production, OLPC will be able to "start delivering laptops" in December, OLPC said. That language seems to mean many G1G1 buyers won't receive their laptops until after the end of the year.
Indeed, said Vota, with Uruguay expecting 20,000 machines in December and a production rate of 15,000 machines per month, how many laptops will actually be available for G1G1 participants? (continued...)