San Francisco: The Intel Corp. reversed the ground on Friday (13 July) and joined the board of the One Laptop Per Child Foundation, an ambitious effort to seed the developing world with inexpensive portable computers.
The about-face by the world's largest chip maker is significant because the leader of the effort, Nicholas Negroponte, the former MIT Media Laboratory director, sparred frequently with Intel's chairman, Craig R. Barrett, over technology and educational issues.
The two men clashed as recently as January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, over competing educational philosophies.
They have spoken bitterly about each other, and Negroponte on several occasions suggested that Intel was leading a campaign to sabotage the organization's computer with governments around the world.
Negroponte has vigorously campaigned around the globe to persuade governments to invest in wireless-connected laptops complete with open-source software for each schoolchild in their nation.
Intel in recent years has pursued a competing plan focused on training teachers to use somewhat more expensive computers equipped with Microsoft Windows software and applications.
Barrett and Negroponte favoured radically different educational approaches. The MIT professor evoked a vision of self-teaching in which schoolchildren would teach each other both to use their computers and to learn.
There is no plan yet to use Intel chips in future versions of the group's laptop, which now uses an Advanced Micro Devices microprocessor.
The organization, which is based in Cambridge, Mass., is still testing its laptop, which will have a price expected to fall to $100 by the end of 2008.
The foundation said on Friday (13 July) that it intended to begin full-scale manufacturing at the end of September or early October.
On Friday, executives at the organization, which has until now worked with Advanced Micro, declared that the organization had a big tent open to all comers.
"By aligning here we are just going to help more kids," said William A. Swope, an Intel vice president and the director of the company's corporate affairs group. Advanced Micro issued a statement welcoming Intel's participation in the organization. In addition to supplying a version of its Geode microprocessor to the project, Advanced Micro has contributed $2 million to the effort since joining the organization in 2005.