I remember reading Nicholas Negroponte’s book, Being Digital, in 1995. He predicted the convergence of mass market media into digital delivery: audio, video, broadcast, print.
Negroponte is founder and chair of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) non-profit organization. The mission of OLPC is to design, manufacture, and distribute laptops that are sufficiently inexpensive to provide every child in the world access to knowledge and modern forms of education.
The cost of the laptop is to be within $100. From their FAQ page:
The proposed $100 machine will be a Linux-based, with a dual-mode display””both a full-color, transmissive DVD mode, and a second display option that is black and white reflective and sunlight-readable at 3Ã— the resolution. The laptop will have a 500MHz processor and 128MB of DRAM, with 500MB of Flash memory; it will not have a hard disk, but it will have four USB ports. The laptops will have wireless broadband that, among other things, allows them to work as a mesh network; each laptop will be able to talk to its nearest neighbors, creating an ad hoc, local area network. The laptops will use innovative power (including wind-up) and will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data.
Here is a mock-up of the proposed machine. I hope OLPC is successful in bringing technology to larger groups of children across the world.