Mean, Green, Micro Machines

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

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