Current design specs for these systems call for a 500MHz CPU (currently built by AMD), 1GB of memory, and a dual-mode display that can function either in color or in black and white (for outdoor usage). Power will be provided via a windable crank, with approximately one minute of cranking translating to 10 minutes of power. The systems will run Linux, include Wi-Fi and USB ports, and support cell-phone connections.
If successful, this initiative will put computers into the hands of literally millions of students who previously couldn't afford them. The long-term ramifications of such a project could be tremendous. Not only could it drastically raise computer literacy among previously uneducated groups, it also has that group working with Linux, not Windows, as a default operating system. In the past, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer has called for a $100 PC aimed at developing nations. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft starts aggressively funding its own $100 initiatives based on how the MIT program is received.