The One Laptop Per Child project, a nonprofit initiative begun at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, aims to improve education by giving children bright-colored, hand-cranked, wireless-enabled portable computers. Governments are to buy the laptops--beginning in 2007 with up to 7 million machines in Thailand, Nigeria, Brazil, and Argentina--and hand them to kids for them to own.

The machines have garnered the most attention, and some skepticism, for the design elements helping to keep their price low. Among other things, the computers will employ the free Linux operating system, flash memory instead of a hard drive, and a microprocessor that is slow...

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