Researchers developing $12 computer based on Apple IIs

While the $100 laptop in principal was a good idea, it quickly became apparent that the $100 mark was going to be a difficult one to meet. Let's face it: $100 is still quite a bit of money for a lot of donors, and especially for those in developing countries who could use the money for food or infrastructure development. According to a Boston Herald article, however, there is a new project about to launch being organized by a group of MIT graduates and current students that will attempt to further drop the entry cost of owning a computer. The price? $12. HangZhou Night Net

The students were inspired by computers being used in India based off the Apple II architecture that Indians plug into their televisions. Their goal is to upgrade these boxes with Internet access via cell phone tethering and to add on-board storage to allow for the saving of programs and other data. While upgrading antiquated hardware might not seem very useful of an idea to folks who quad-core CPUs running in excess of 2GHz, the team thinks that, if the technology was good enough for them to learn how to type and learn basic computer skills on, it will work for the rest of the world. The team has already contacted Apple II enthusiasts to program for the machines.

The Apple II was first produced in 1977 and was engineered by what some consider to be the father of personal computing, Steve Wozniak. The machine ran a MOS Technology 6502 processor that ran at 1MHz with a 12kB ROM.

Although we don't know the price of outdated components, this seems like a fairly reasonable goal. As the group points out, for the price of one laptop, a school could fill a computer lab with ten of these machines. When the goal is to develop rudimentary computer skills, the much cheaper hardware might be the way to go after all.