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.







  1. Great article Michelle!
    It truly is amazing the vision that Steve Jobs had. I have had the benefit of seeing what an IPad can provide for a child/adult with disabilities. The IPad as an assistive technology tool/device is amazing and can open up so much for them if it is a necessary tool. I relate that to these children I read about in your article and their world opening up with technology. I always gain so much from reading your articles.
    Thank you!

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thank You so much Jennifer! It’s hard not to admit that Steve Jobs has made a huge impact on people’s lives through technology. Who knows, maybe one of these little girls in the picture above will make the next cross continental contribution to the world. Can you imagine? Someone from a Third World country developing the latest contribution to modern day technology…

  2. Yet another wonderful article, showing us that technology has a huge impact on empowerment, and though Steve Jobs is no longer with us, others brilliant minds can build off his legacy and create more magical things for the future. It may even be someone who is holding a computer for the first time ever, in a land that is not as rich with resources as we are. How wonderful is that!

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      That is truly an amazing thought Billee! I don’t believe we can discount people from Third World countries, like you said, the next worldwide technology contributor, may just be someone who is holding a computer for the first time. Thanks for adding to this dialogue! 🙂

  3. Michael Connors says

    Michelle, your article is spot on! Putting technology in the hands of children is the way to foster creativity. Hopefully my children will see and help to create a world that does not limit a person’s opportunities due to geography or economic status.

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thank You so much Michael! What a profound statement and wish you’ve made – “Hopefully my children will see and help to create a world that does not limit a person’s opportunities due to geography or economic status.” I am confident that your children will be some of the great contributors to societies around the world. I know this because they have you as their father- someone who is truly aware that positive growth comes from positive parenting. hank you so much for adding to this dialogue! 🙂

  4. Mimi Shoop says

    Another hope filled article by Michelle Quevedo! While it is true that third world countries need the basics that we take for granted, who knows what gifted minds may be awaiting the spark of technology?

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thank You so much Mimi! Your rhetorical question leads to so many positive avenues of development for and hope for people. Definitely the best question so far in this ongoing dialogue. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this. It makes me wonder if we tend to limit our views of people based on their access to modern day technologies?

  5. Children are the future. They are open to the tools of technology and learn much faster than adults. They do not fear failure and keep trying until they master skills to succeed. My 7 year old granddaughter is helping me with my IPhone. This is a wonderful project.

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Wow! Thank you for your comment Pat! Yes it is amazing how children adapt to technology faster than adults. This should make countries invest more time and resources to their development. I also really appreciate your statement about children how “They do not fear failure and keep trying until they master skills to succeed.” Very well said and something that we should all emulate. 🙂

  6. A laptop in the hands of every child, what a concept. We don’t know what country our next Steve Jobs, Stephen Hawking, Maya Angelou, a Dr. Salk or even a J.K. Rowling will come from. No, they may not have running water, but a “running” away imagination will do wonders to bring to life what does not yet exist or what can be improved upon. Plant the seed and let their imaginations do the watering. I would love to see a Raspberry Pi, love the name, makes me smile.

  7. Monica Myles says

    I love this! What an amazing tool to give these people!

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thank You Monica! Yes, electronic technology is quite a tool for the people of underdeveloped countries. What many take for granted in developed countries, people from the Third World consider as valuable tools. Perception is all that’s needed to change the value of something.

  8. Melissa Conn says

    Interesting article Michelle!

    I had never heard of this concept before. It is certainly intriguing! With this access to computers and software design, I think that internet access would also increase their chances of creating something innovative. Do you know if the internet is accessible where they are distributing these computers and design software?

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thank You Melissa! Yes, each XO computer is equipped with internet acces. They have two antennas on the top of the monitors and internet service is provided. The fascinating part about technology in many underdeveloped countries, is that they do have some form of internet accessibility, and many companies are working hard to lay infrastructure to wire most of these countries. The XO computers are distributed in areas where computer technology is scant or non existent. The OLPC foundation follows a strict policy. First they access an area and communicate with schools. Then they distribute enough computers so that every child receives on free of charge, this way all the children learn collectively which will help them to advance faster then if they were alone. There is no need for design software needed to the Raspberry Pi because it is a GNO/Unix systen. Therefore people can access programs through open source or start developing their own applications using Linux. It just takes lots of practice and willingness to learn when coding. There are many coders they can communicate with via Internet and this will make their advancements grow even faster. Already engineers are making open source plug-in hardware and software applications to the Raspberry Pi. The possibilities in developing and engineering are endless with this product.

  9. Another highly informative and educational piece Michelle. As someone who has an ambivalent relationship with technology it has given me pause for thought when I read about both it’s profound impact and potential impact in the lives of people in underdeveloped countries.

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thank You Karyn! Also thank you for your candor about your relationship with technology. The profound positive impact on underdeveloped countries should give us all pause regarding the XO laptop and Raspberry Pi computers. To have this technology accessible to those whom we thought would never be able to find the resources to purchase such devices, let alone program and engineer new processes, is really an astounding feet for all those involved with organizations such as OLPC Foundation and the Raspberry Pi Organization. This very well may be, the dawn of a new renaissance in the computer technology world.

  10. Great topic. Great article. Children have the amazing ability to pick up some piece of technology like and iphone or ipad and figure out how to work it in a mater of minutes. Children that are given any kind of help, be it water, food or a computer have a chance to succeed and surprise us all. Again great article keep them coming.

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thank You JT! That is quite a statement you made about children, and also very true. “Children that are given any kind of help, be it water, food or a computer have a chance to succeed and surprise us all.”
      Well said!!! It adds to the dialogue made by Pat Frey (up above) which was “They do not fear failure and keep trying until they master skills to succeed.” Maybe adults need to reclaim these aspect within themselves, so that they would be more willing to assist with the development of all the world’s children.

  11. Cathy Fitzgerald says

    Another great article! Each one you write has one degree of separation for me. About 2 years ago, I got a XO laptop for my birthday – it was a special promotion – buy one, get one shipped to a kid overseas. It took a while to figure out how to open it (being an engineer didn’t help), it doesn’t come with instructions to keep things simple. But on my last trip to Kenya, I gave it to a very small rural school in western Kenya and the kids instantly knew how to use it and were so excited to have their own computer. Keep those articles coming!

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thank you Cathy! It’s amazing how your life has been instrumental in making a positive impact on so many lives. I bet those children who received the XO laptop from you are the fastest growing seeds in Kenya.

  12. Michelle Quevedo says

    Jason, thank you so much for Re-Tweeting this! It’s making its way all around Twitter thanks to you and Les. 🙂

  13. Michelle Quevedo says

    Thank You for the Retweet @Msanity1 🙂

  14. Michelle Quevedo says

    Les, thank you so much for Tweeting this article! It is so much appreciated 🙂


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