Mean, Green, Micro Machines

Cheap, power-efficient personal computers enter the world stage

| December 30, 2004

In October, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer challenged the computer industry to build a $100 personal computer. In November, SolarPC obliged, announcing a new addition to its line of power-efficient machines. The SolarLite requires a mere 12 volts to operate -- a small fraction of the industry standard -- and can be run on solar power or even a human-powered bicycle generator. With such a small financial and environmental cost to the user, the barriers to Internet access have been lowered to include some of the world's poorest nations. In an effort to facilitate this expansion of information access, SolarPC has founded the Global Education Link (GEL), an initiative to give away one million SolarLites to the world's poorest countries. Moreover, the company has made the license to manufacture SolarLites free to educational and charitable groups participating in the GEL project. With a minimum order of 100,000 units, the SolarLite is currently only the plaything of large organizations, but observers predict the product's release will soon kick off a trend of global proportions.

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