The world's largest maker of notebook computers has been tapped to produce a line of cheap laptops for students in the developing world, organizers of the One Laptop per Child project said last week.

Quanta Computer, based in Taiwan, has agreed to devote "significant engineering resources" into rolling out as many as 15 million units of the so-called $100-laptops -- powered by a hand crank -- by the end of 2006, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab, which is spearheading the project.

"Any previous doubt that a very-low-cost laptop could be made for education in the developing world has just gone away," said Media Lab founder and chairman Nicholas Negroponte.

The lime-green, Linux-based laptops will have wireless broadband, allowing each one to operate within a mesh network with others nearby. With four USB ports, a 500MHz processor, 128MB of DRAM, and 500MB of Flash memory, they will be able to do "everything except store huge amounts of data," Negroponte said in a recent online Q&A.

Negroponte and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan unveiled a working prototype at the U.N.'s World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis last month.

The laptops will be available only through government initiatives, though eventually, Negroponte said, a commercial line will be rolled out.