Nicholas Negroponte, a professor at the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has outlined a scheme whereby Linux notebook computers could be supplied to people in some of the world's poorest nations for as little as $100. Designed to be rugged and durable, the laptops would have full colour screens and would by powered by ingenious means such as wind-up. They should also have wireless and USB capability, and will sport a 500MHz processor, 1GB of memory and an XVGA display. Not bad at all.

"Sadly, most educational systems that recognise the importance of computers provide a roomful of desktops to which a child might go for a few hours a week," said Professor Negroponte.

"But computing should be like a pencil: you have your own (versus community pencils) and use it for all kinds of purposes related to school, home, work and play.

"This model of computing calls for a lightweight, full-screen, full-colour, fully-connected laptop.

"To achieve this, the MIT Media Lab has been developing a $100 laptop which can be provided on a very large scale worldwide. The goal is to have one laptop per child in the poorest and most remote regions of the world."