Goodbye Mary Lou, We're Gonna Miss You


Mary Lou Jepsen of OLPC

I am very sad to learn that today is Mary Lou Jepsen's last day at One Laptop Per Child. From Walter Bender's Community News:

Mary Lou's last day at OLPC is December 31. She will be continuing to consult with us on a number of different fronts as she chases after her next miracle in display technology.

Mary Lou was OLPC employee Number One, both in terms of when she joined the organization and in terms of the breadth and depth of her contributions. Thank you and best of luck with your adventures in a new role and new year.

Mary Lou was more that an employee, she was the foundation of OLPC. She designed the dual mode screen that made the XO laptop possible.

Then, in what I still think is an under-reported feat, she made the XO the greenest laptop ever made. In her own words:

"But equally important for us was to produce a laptop that could be used in remote areas with unreliable or limited energy sources. The result is a laptop computer that has more than 10 times less environmental impact than the average laptop computer. It’s the greenest laptop ever made, and that's not just its color."
And Mary Lou Jepsen is Number One to me for more than her technical contributions to OLPC. She also kept the program real, skipping the grandiose statements for getting things done.

She delivered us clock-stopping hot technology without pretense. She just delivered. From all of us who care about OLPC, may we deliver you the best wishes for you and yours in 2008 and beyond.

Thank you.

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Seconded --- Mary Lou, you're as top-notch as a person can be !!

Have a good time



Thank you, Mary Lou! The XO is already having a big impact in a lot of ways! Good luck with everything in the future!

No question XO's hybrid display is a true achievement. Good luck Mary Lou !

Satisfied that XO laptops were shipping in volume, Jepsen noted in an e-mail that she was starting a for-profit company to commercialize some of the technologies she invented at OLPC.

"I will continue to give OLPC product at cost, while providing commercial entities products they would like at a profit," Jepsen wrote in an e-mail.


Thanks Mary Lou for creating a truly innovative laptop. The XO-1 laptop succeeds because it does things no other computer can do. Thank you for all your efforts.

At first I was worried that this was bad news. But after seeing that she is starting a for-profit company to do more of the same great tech work, I am much relieved. Win-win business can be every bit as effective as non-profit organizations for improving the world.

Hats off to Mary Lou, Queen of Engines*!

One could say, without too much of a stretch, that the XO is her display with a laptop built around it. This is not to minimize the work done in bringing the rest of the design to manufacturability, but to maximize the importance of her unique contribution.

In not only designing the display but in bringing the whole design through the development process into manufacture, she joins the ranks of those about whom Steve Jobs says, "real artists ship".

Real artists not only ship, but have to deal with patrons who try to marginalize them while grasping for unearned credit. Now that Nick's grand plan has fizzled and XOs are getting out into the hands of developers who don't accept all those plan's assumptions it is Mary Lou who emerges as the real mover and shaker (contracted, perhaps to maker").

I wholeheartedly endorse her decision to move into the for-profit sector of business. I made a similar decision a few years ago, observing that in the business world success breeds increased support, while in that of non-profits success yields a reduction in support.

You can't argue with performance, and a working design takes on a life of its own. I will be doing my bit to try to apply it in ways I think will work, and everyone else ought to try as well.

*(a reference to "The Difference Engine" by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling)

Has anyone else seen the headline that says she'l leaving to commercialize her olpc patents and that G1G1 was 'halted'?

That is some sloppy e-journalism on slashdot's part IMHO.


Mary Lou:-- You can design and build hardware of various kinds, and intend to set forth and do so. They might even include e-book reading devices. Yes?

I can put illustrated books in colour into incredibly small files for use on small, incredibly cheap, low-powered (even solar powered) e-book reading devices.

If we get together, you and I, we can without doubt lay the foundations for, and even create, billions (no fooling) of dollars in a technological industry which is barely off the ground yet, and a lot of those billions can go towards saving the children of the undeveloped world.

What do you say?

Would you like to send me an email, Mary Lou? Or perhaps reply to me here?

With love,

Dr. Martin Woodhouse.

Excellent comment Lee, I can only second that and thank Mary Lou for all her outstanding work on the XO-1. All the best for your future endeavours, I can't wait to see what you come up with in the next few years! :-)

Former OLPC CTO Aims to Create $75 Laptop,141230-c,notebooks/article.html

A laptop under US$100 could reach desks if a new venture formed by former chief technology officer of One Laptop Per Child, Mary Lou Jepsen, can deliver on its promises.

A "spin-out" from OLPC, the company, Pixel Qi( is looking to create a $75 laptop and trying to advance low-cost computers and power-efficient laptops, mobile phones and other consumer electronics that are sunlight readable, Jepsen wrote on the company's Web site.

Jepsen left OLPC two weeks ago to commercialize technologies she invented with OLPC, she said in an e-mail to the IDG News Service at the time. A patent lists Jepsen as one of the inventors of a display system optimized for low-power operation.

"Spinning out from OLPC enables the development of a new machine, beyond the XO [laptop], while leveraging a larger market for new technologies," Jepsen wrote.

There is a big commercial market for technology spawned by OLPC, Jepsen wrote. Prices for next-generation hardware can be brought down by allowing multiple uses of key technology advances, she wrote.

The company will continue to work with OLPC by providing products at cost, and it will sell devices at a profit to commercial organizations.

A similar promise to introduce a low-cost laptop came from OLPC, when it launched the $100 XO laptop in 2005. Since then, the effort has been afflicted by production delays and rising costs, which caused the laptop's estimated price to rise to $200. It is now beset by waning orders and competition from commercial vendors that threaten to sideline the nonprofit effort.

As CTO, Jepsen was responsible for hardware development for the rugged and power-saving XO laptop, designed for use by children in developing countries. Though the laptop has struggled to find buyers, it has been praised for its environmentally friendly design and innovative display, hardware and networking features.

Her departure from OLPC spawned a debate, with critics charging that Jepsen was taking advantage of OLPC's nonprofit inventions for personal gains, but supporters shot back, saying it was the right time for her to leave a sinking ship.

Jepsen, who is attending the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, was not available for comment.