The origins of OLPC stretch back more than four decades to the primordial days of computing, when most machines were still the size of small dinosaurs and next to no one imagined they had any connection to children. Pioneer thinkers such as Seymour Papert dreamed they would be suitable for children, and time has proven the immense power of the personal computer as a learning tool. Here are some of the key milestones in One Laptop per Child's long march from radical theory to reality.
The second Give One Get One program launches.
The vision for the XO-2, the second generation machine designed specifically for educating the world's children, is revealed. It features dual-touchscreens, a smaller and lighter form factor, and even better power efficiency.
Chuck Kane is appointed the new president of OLPC.
Plans for a dual-boot XO which can run both Windows and Sugar are announced, extending the potential audience for the laptop and its educational goals.
Children begin learning with the XO.
Mass production begins. The Give One Get One program results in sales of over 150,000 laptops.
First school server deployed.
First mesh network deployed.
XO beta machines deployed to children in launch countries.
The first XO laptops roll off the Quanta assembly-line in Shanghai.
Sugar, the XO laptop's user interface, is presented for the first time.
First working prototype of the dual-mode display is unveiled.
OLPC opens its offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The laptop.org website goes live.
Negroponte and Kemal Dervis, head of the UN Development Program (UNDP), sign a memo of understanding at the World Economic Forum. The planned OLPC Gen-1 launch remains focused on 5–10 million laptops in large countries or regions.
Quanta Computers, the world's largest laptop manufacturer, is announced as the ODM for the XO.
OLPC's prototype, known as the green machine with its distinctive pencil-yellow hand crank, is presented at the World Symposium on the Information Society.
Negroponte presents the idea for the $100 laptop at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Negroponte provides 20 children in a small, remote Cambodian village with connected laptops; for their individual use at school, at home, and in the community. He will add 20 more the following year. The children and their families quickly innovate multiple uses for the machines and easily teach themselves to navigate the Internet. Their first English word? “Google.”
Negroponte's influential book, Being Digital, paints a picture of the future of personal computing, and lays the foundation for the vision that has become One Laptop per Child.
Working with the Omar Dengo Foundation in Costa Rica, Papert and a team from the Media Lab help design and implement a constructionist program that includes the training of a dozen Costa Rican teachers at MIT. The self-sustaining program is instrumental in moving Costa Rica away from economic dependence on agricultural exports toward a technology-based economy.
The MIT Media Lab opens its doors. Its mission, in part, is to “invent and creatively exploit new media for human well-being without regard for present-day constraints.”
In a French government-sponsored pilot project, Papert and Negroponte distribute Apple II microcomputers to school children in a suburb of Dakar, Senegal. The experience confirms one of Papert's central assumptions: children in remote, rural, and poor regions of the world take to computers as easily and naturally as children anywhere.
Papert publishes Mindstorms: Children, Computers and Powerful Ideas, a popular guide to his theories of constructionism and computing for kids.
Alan Kay describes his proto-laptop, the Dynabook, as “a portable interactive personal computer, as accessible as a book.”
Seymour Papert, et al. introduce Logo, the first programming language written especially for children.