Mary Lou Jepsen, an LCD screen designer, was chosen to lead the development of the One Laptop Per Child project. With such tight constraints Jepsen needed to carefully craft the machine to sell for about $100.
Instead of using a spinning hard drive she chose flash memory—the type in your USB thumb drive—because it draws very little juice and doesn’t break when dropped. For software she picked Linux and other free, open source packages instead of paying for Microsoft’s wares. She used an AMD Geode processor, which isn’t very fast but requires less than a watt of power. And as the pièce de résistance, she devised an ingenious LCD panel that detects whether onscreen images are static (like when you’re reading a document) and tells the main processor to shut down, saving precious electricity.
Asustek crafted the EEEPC with concern that Jepsen’s OLPC machine would be a threat. Within a few months it sold out its 350,000 piece inventory. Turns out people wanted less out of their laptops and the netbook as been a success ever since.
Read the full article from Wired.