Planting Seeds for the Next Steve Jobs

Little girls from Gaza holding their own XO laptops. SOURCE: OLPC Foundation

In the 1970s the United States economy was under incredible pressure from situations like the closing-out of an unsuccessful war, a fuel crises, and even a hostage situation in Iran. All of these issues contributed to some of the highest interest rates, inflated food prices, and exorbitant costs in consumer products. Some would say that this point in time was headed towards one of the bleakest periods short of The Great Depression. However this combination of pressure and great uncertainty became a fertile ground for American innovation. In a parent’s garage, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs completed the design and build of the world’s first personal computer. Leading to one of the most successful companies in the United States history to date. Steve Job’s success has encouraged the pioneering efforts of young and old in the advancements of technology, leading to ever-greater advancements in the developed countries. His company, Apple Inc., is now a name known worldwide for changing the way people look at technology. Although he is not the only contributor to the world’s modern day technology, he has become an iconic symbol for innovation and discovery.

After Steve Jobs’ death in 2011, one question is still being posed; who will be the next Steve Jobs? The answer may come from a Third World country. Life in developing countries has its challenges, making its people embrace any innovation that will help them to thrive. The only thing that is holding them back is the lack of accessibility for their children to these modern day technologies. This is why some innovators from developed countries, are working hard to make computer and electronic technology accessible to people living in poorer countries. These innovators believe that technology should be accessible to anyone showing the desire of learning how to use them. Two such visionary groups are the Raspberry Pi organization, and the One Laptop Per Child Foundation.

Both organizations are driven to put computers into the hands of the world’s poorest children. The goal is to give them the ability to expand their knowledge and to become technology innovators themselves.

Little Boy in Nepal holding his XO laptop. SOURCE: OLPC Foundation

The One Laptop Per Child Foundation distributes the XO computer for free. It is given to children from ages of 6-12 who are living in underdeveloped countries such as Nicaragua, Madagascar, Kenya, and Peru to only name a few. These laptops are meant to be educational devices, but they are unable to assist users in learning how to develop software and create engineering projects. This is where the Raspberry Pi comes into play. The Raspberry Pi is a computer that fits almost in the palm of your hand, and has the processing power of a large desktop computer. The Raspberry Pi gives the user the ability to design software and to create engineering innovations. This is done in part by the price of its technology. The Raspberry Pi computer costs $25-35, making the ability to create computer based technologies, even more accessible to people living in underdeveloped countries.

Raspberry Pi Computer

Critics may scoff at the efforts of the One Laptop Per Child Foundation and the Raspberry Pi organization, arguing that children, who live in homes without plumbing, do not need computers- they need running water. However the reality is that these children need whatever technology they can get their hands on, and in turn this technology will educate them on how to improve their situations. This also fits the need for the ability to expand their knowledge, and to develop tools needed to improve the lives of their communities. These computers give them the ability of turning their developing countries from dependency on outside technologies, to becoming contributors to the technological advancements of the world.

The Raspberry Pi organization and The One Laptop Per Child Foundation are well aware that the needs of those living in the Third World are vast, but they persevere on their missions to plant the seeds of technology with the hopes that the people will find a way to reduce poverty and become self reliant.

Many living in developed countries tend to take this type of technology for granted and some even loathe it. Yet one can easily see that by making these technologies more accessible to Third World countries, seeds will be planted that may very well grow into becoming new innovators making new innovations. To put it plainly, the Raspberry Pi and the XO will make it possible for people who live in underdeveloped countries, to become their own Steve Jobs.