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Home » E-Learning 2009 » Programm » 2. Konferenztag » A brief history of OLPC and what I learned from it

A brief history of OLPC and what I learned from it

Michail Bletsas, Director of Computing, MIT Media Laboratory

As one of the founding members of the OLPC team, I had the opportunity to follow the project and contribute to it from its initial conception to its implementation.  In this talk I will try to explain the reasoning behind the key decisions that we made, describe some experiences from the various deployments and provide my personal insight on what could have been done differently.

Michail Bletsas is a Research Scientist and  the Director of Computing at the MIT Media Laboratory. In his capacity he is responsible for the technology  infrastructure that the lab uses in its day to day activities and has designed and deployed most of the early internet network infrastructure systems at the Media Lab. His research involves experimenting with wireless networks that are implemented using off-the-shelf, low-cost components to provide broadband Internet access to underserved areas.

He was on leave from MIT from 2006 till 2009 to the One Laptop per Child non-profit where he served as its Chief Connectivity Officer.  He was a founding member of the core design and engineering team that designed OLPC’s XO laptop. He began working on the laptop design while at the MIT Media Lab in 2005 and made defining contributions to its hardware and software architecture (embedded mesh, power management, motherboard architecture) and its industrial design (rabbit ears). The XO-1 laptop is being generally credited  as the patriarch of the “Netbook” category that is now transforming the personal computing industry. Alongside his technical duties, he acted as a public face for the project, helping to successfully sell the concept to sponsors, partners, users and the general public.  

Before joining the Media Lab, he was a systems engineer at Aware, Inc., where he designed and wrote high-performance software libraries for Intel's distributed-memory parallel supercomputers, and was involved in the development of one of the first ADSL Internet-access test beds.

He has taught seminars on Computer and Network Security at MIT and has lectured internationally on a variety of Internet subjects.  He has been the keynote speaker in a number of international conferences. With over 20 years of professional experience, he has consulted for a number of companies, has served as an advisor to a variety of high tech startups, has served on various governmental committees and has been involved with many NGOs. He is one of the  founders  of Velti S.A., a successful Greek software company which focuses on the telecom and banking sectors.

He holds a diploma in electrical engineering from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece and an MSc in computer engineering from Boston University.

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