Friday, June 22, 2007

The Evolution Of The Affordable Computer

In the not too distant past, I had prided myself in having built my own PCs (desktops, specifically) at prices considerably lower than prevailing market prices for similarly-built units.

After building, tweaking, and upgrading countless PCs both at home and work, I finally ended the personally-commissioned project, capping it with a PC that had a total cash outlay of $140.

I had proudly thought then that it would be a while before commercial versions of PCs could top that record. Granted that some parts used by me were salvaged from some junked PCs.

My unheeding pride came crashing down when Nicholas Negroponte of MIT came out with his $100 laptop project some years back. This commendable project, primarily intended for distressed countries which suffer from affordability problems, continues to this day and one can follow its successes and grandiose plans on its wiki site.

Now, comes this latest news from Popular Science:

The $72 PC

Click to read more.


  1. Hey buddy do you have an extra PC you would want to sell me on the cheap? mine at home just took a crap on me and best buy is already saying its going to be over 200 dollars to fix. I just need somthing to check my email and surf the web. Just curious.......

  2. Hi, Mister Chewwy:

    First, thanks for visiting.

    It's been a while since I built my last PC and I unfortunately do not have any spare PC that I do not need.

    My only recommendation is that the current PCs, like the EMachines which are very reasonably priced even with most of the newest technologies, would be the best alternative. I saw one from Circuit City priced at $199.99. Best Buy also carries them.

  3. OLPC is actually closer to $140 when bought in quantity of 1 million. I heard Jim Getty saying that commercial distribution adds about 100% for volume platforms, so you're looking at $300. Notice that OLPC is not just a garden variety PC. It has a unique outdoor-compatible display, wireless with mesh capability, extremely low power consumption, and half a gig of flash.

    Regarding Brian's problem, everything I have is either needed for something, or is utterly useless. I've got a dual P5/133 (yes, really) with 32MB RAM and something like 1.2GB sitting in the box perfectly packed when I retired it 3 years ago. I don't think it can handle "surfing and e-mail".

  4. I did start email and surfing with an upgraded 486 (586) with rated speed of 130mhz and it was then sufficient for those times, even using dial-up.

    But nowadays, things have changed greatly, with newer technologies and all the possible plug-ins and add-ons. Even emails are now typically delivered on HTML format.

    Thus, one can readily see the advantages of having the newer technologies being accommodated by your Internet "tool", your PC.

  5. Its amazing to me that pc's and all electonics and appliances for that matter are getting nothing but pricier and pricier here in the mother country.


    GMA is supposed to be a darn economist yet she doesn't understand, or perhaps her legislature doesn't get it, how important it is to keep tariffs to a "dull roar" so these wonderful average folk can afford to buy goods. Will this government ever "get it" or what!!!!

    Much of what drives the US economy is consumerism. There are no consumers here, except for the rich folk who can afford to be. The longer I live here the more I shake my head Amadeo...

  6. True, Phil, most consumer items especially electronics are still way beyond reach of the ordinary folks there. Thus, their substitute is the ubiquitous cell phone which can be had for as low as 1500 pesos (used).

    However, there are still markets where PCs, for example, can be had for as low as 9000-10000 pesos. That's under $200 based on current rates. In our city in Northern Mindanao, I found Japanese brands of DELL selling for that much, and as speedy as 1GHz. I suspect they may have been brought in without going through all the local Customs rigmarole.

    But some educated Filipinos are also show-offs (HeHeHe). In the many Filipino blogs I visit, they nonchalantly boast of their new MACs or Macbooks. Now, these are considerably much more expensive than PCs. And unless you are professionally into editing of movies, graphics, etc., the services of a PC would be more sufficient for your needs.


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