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Now this is cool!

This story in today's Boston Globe discusses the ultimate in cheap computing: a low-end laptop powered by a hand crank.
Nicholas Negroponte, cofounder of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will show off a model of a $100 hand-crank laptop today that he designed as an educational device for children in remote areas.

But a cheap computer that does not rely on batteries or electricity could also serve as a life-saving communications tool following a natural disaster.

And this isn't going to be just for the Third World; Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is thinking about buying these for all students in the Bay State. The driver for Romney is that these would only cost $100, versus at least $500 for "regular" low-end laptops:
Last week, as part of an education reform plan, Romney proposed to spend $54 million to buy one of Negroponte's laptops for every student. The first three grades would get computers during fiscal year 2007, while students in the other three grades would get them the following year. The computers would be gifts, so that students could keep them after graduating.