Modern information technology could contribute, perhaps decisively, to better health, happiness and prosperity in the developing world. However, the current tendency toward unnecessarily expensive, complex and non-standardized personal computers limits this potential. In the words of Yale University computer science professor, David Gelernter, modern computers, laden with incomprehensible user manuals and unneeded features are ‘more a source of irritation, dissatisfaction and angst than a positive benefit’.1 This comment is one of many on the record along much the same lines.

This unrealized potential suggests development and global distribution of a simple, standardized, inexpensive computer, powered by batteries backed ...

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