I was a bit naive about the whole project - I heard Negroponte speak at an event where he was arguing defensively that all a country needs is technology (even ahead of civil society) and I was so disillusioned. I was no expert in this area, but his arguments were very weak. Pretty disappointing and I feel bad for the really kind and generous people who poured so much of their time into this project because it had garnered so much goodwill.
Raspberry Pi also had an educational vision (inspired by the BBC Micro) and has led to a bunch of cheap and useful linux boards (and it also likely influenced the creation of the BBC Micro bit.)
Maybe not exactly the primary effects that the project developers had in mind, but pretty beneficial anyway,.
It was a slap in the face to the poor, a slap in the face to hackers.
It did repetitive mistakes made in the education sector, repetitive mistakes in IT you'll see on HN, repetitive mistakes in the NGO sector.
It's hard to think of a thing they did right. Perhaps on the hardware side.
I think the best lesson is at the time no one called the project out. To blame Negroponte is just shifting the NGO/Education/IT communities responsibilities. The same mistakes with OLPC are still being made today.
There were plenty of people who called the project out.
Nobody cared, the "story" was too compelling.
Here's my favorite quip (I don't remember where I found it) about OLPC: "OLPC is a rich man's idea of what poor men need. It's like donating an expresso machine to a homeless shelter."
The TED talk that kinda kicked it off for the public was early 2006, which pre-dates HN - https://www.ted.com/talks/nicholas_negroponte_one_laptop_per...
Early comments are somewhat sceptical on HN.
My favourite was something like, what the people in developing countries actually need are radios and cell phones. That was referring to brick phones. Which you might say was an extra lucky comment since smart phones are now so vital in developing countries, but I think the commenter recognised at a base level what mattered. It's not they also knew phones would extra matter in the future, but by recognising a fundamental it progressed with global society.
 I will say good coffee at a homeless shelter matters, but agree espresso machines are way to complex and easy to break.
The problems begin much sooner than what gadgets they have. For example. That hand crank idea was motivated by the lack of a working power grid. If they don't have power why the hell are you giving them laptops? What you should be doing is on a political level. Give them a phone that shows off all the fancy infrastructure that first world countries have in a video and make them want it. If the battery runs out after a week it doesn't matter. The message has been delivered.