MIT want to make $12 Apple II clone

Eric Smith eric at
Wed Aug 6 16:12:07 CDT 2008

I wrote:
> That was one of the major criticisms of the OLPC, but hte critics
> didn't understand that the OLPC with suitable software and e-texts
> was a LESS EXPENSIVE replacement for textbooks.

der Mouse wrote:
> I'm not convinced that is actually true.  I'm perfectly ready to
> believe it's true if you consider only up-front monetary costs, but
> there are a lot of other costs involved, such as the failure modes (one
> failure in a relatively fragile bit of electronics and _all_ your texts
> go poof, to name just one problem), the lack of separability (you can
> read at most one of those texts at a time, no matter how many people
> are available), and support infrastructure needed (a book can be taken
> almost anywhere, without anything additional, and still work; a
> computer needs, at a minimum, a source of electrical power).

The failure rate was included in the cost analysis.  Yes, that does push 
the per unit price above the initial $188, but it is *still* lower than 
the cost of paper textbooks.

That's also one of the main reasons why Mary Lou Jepsen invented the 
display that has a color mode AND a sunlight-readable high-contrast B&W 
mode.  Textbooks (electronic or otherwise) are no good if you can't 
actually read them, and a normal laptop display isn't really adequate.


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