Perhaps one of the most heated parts of the 1995 Congressional Hearing on Technology in Education was this clip where David Shaw interupts Seymour Papert insisting that 1:1 computing in schools is not a good idea economically because "80-90% of the cost of a computer is not a capital expenditure but rather maintenance," and that the functional life expectancy of computers is, "2-3 years." Papert nearly pulls his hair out insisting that, "kids could learn to maintain (or even build) the computers." He also points out that Shaw is, "trying to cram new ideas into an old framework."
What is most interesting to me, 15 years later, is that Papert testifies that it would only increase school budgets 2-3% to place a computer in each kids hands at a time when computers cost $1,000. Adjust for inflation and take today's price tag of $400 or less for a quality netbook (that does exponentially more than the Mac or PC of 1995) and that figure must be more like .5-1.5%
On this issue, who was right? Papert or Shaw?