Laptops Are Better, Faster, Stronger in This Local Man’s Hands … and Free to Those Who Need Them

David Bjorkgren
Hai Thai refurbishing old laptops and giving them away
Image via Alejandro Alvarez, Philadelphia Inquirer.
Hai Thai refurbishes laptop computers through his TechCycle program.

“Ten people without Internet access is too much. The way I see this is you change one person’s life, they’ll change another life, or another 10,” said Hai Thai.

Thai, a 1996 graduate of Upper Darby High School, refurbishes donated laptops, then gives them away for free, writes Stephanie Farr for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

With his tinkering, old laptops work smarter, stay powered up longer, and process data quicker.

He’s motivated by his own first laptop experience. That college computer “totally changed my life,” he said, opening a world of information.

The 42-year-old has given away nine laptops to Philadelphia students and families, to a family in Guatemala, and to a convent of nuns in Brooklyn for virtual church services.

He’s looking to scale up his business through donations and more volunteers.

“I want to teach people to do what I’m good at,” said Thai, a senior manager of software engineering and development at Comcast.

Thai pushed supermarket carts, washed dishes, worked as a waiter, picked blueberries, was a supermarket butcher, and worked at a garment factory before entering the tech field, all to support his family, who emigrated from Vietnam in 1990.

Read more in The Philadelphia Inquirer about Hai Thai’s laptop giveaway.

Here’s a short YouTube video showing how an old laptop can be refurbished for continued use.