Walter Bender was the president of software and content for the One Laptop Per Child Foundation (OLPC). One of his main tasks with the OLPC was to design the interface for the notebook called Sugar. Last week Bender resigned from his position with OLPC.
Xconomy says that the decision to leave was in part because of a split Bender had with founder Nicholas Negroponte over how the foundation should continue its role in the computing world. Bender told Xconomy that he disagreed with Negroponte’s move to de-emphasize projects like Sugar and become more closely associated with established firms in the software business like Microsoft.
Microsoft has previously stated that a version of Windows XP would be running on the XO notebook eventually. Bender says, “If you read between the lines, the idea is to stop trying to be disruptive and to start trying to make things comfortable for decision-makers. Personally, I think that…a role that a non-profit can play is to try to demonstrate better ways of doing things and let the market follow them. But that is a minority opinion [within OLPC], so I left to do my own thing.”
Xconomy says that the legacy of the OLPC may end up not being the XO Notebook itself, but rather the technologies that were developed in order to make the XO Laptop viable. Bender and his Sugar interface aren’t the only technology spin-offs that have come out of the OLPC.
Former CTO Mary Lou Jepsen left the OLPC to form her own company called Pixel Qi to build and market energy-saving screens and other technology originally developed for the OLPC XO Notebook. The technology that both Bender and Jepsen develop could eventually turn up in consumer devices and competing low cost notebooks like the Intel Classmate in the future.