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Last Updated: Monday, 29 March, 2004, 09:36 GMT 10:36 UK
Simputer for poor goes on sale
Amida Simputer
The company behind the device hopes to sell 50,000 in a year
A cheap handheld computer designed by Indian scientists has been launched after a delay of nearly three years.

The team first came up with the idea for the Simputer in 2001 to help India's poor join the internet age.

But development of the computer was hampered by lack of investment and by little interest in the idea from computer manufacturers.

The Simputer was officially launched on Friday and the basic model costs around $240.

Cheap and accessible

The Simputer is the first computer to be designed and manufactured in India.

It was developed by scientists and engineers at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore who were looking for a way of taking the internet revolution to India's rural masses.

Early Simputer design
What the Simputer looked like in 2001
Only nine in every 1,000 Indians own a computer, mainly because the machines are simply too expensive. The Simputer was designed to provide cheap and accessible computing on the go.

But it had a troubled time moving out of the development labs and into commercial production.

In the end, the government-owned Bharat Electronics agreed to manufacture the handheld.

The device goes on sale in April and the backers of the project hope to sell 50,000 in the first year.

Branded as the Amida Simputer, the handheld comes in three versions. The basic model has a monochrome screen, a 206MHz processor and 64MB of memory. It also has an internal microphone, speakers and a battery that lasts for six hours

People can use the Simputer to surf the net, send e-mails or organise their finances, using a stylus to write on screen. It also comes with software to let users type notes and letters in Hindi and Kannada.

In order to keep costs down, the computer uses the Linux operating system.




SEE ALSO:
UN summit pledges net for all
12 Dec 03  |  Technology
Nations wrestle with internet age
15 Dec 03  |  Technology


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