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Chris Peterson

May 27, 2011

50 Things (That MIT Made)

Posted in: Best of the Blogs, MIT Facts

Happy Friday!

Yes, that is an Oberlin College-produced parody of Rebecca Black. And yes, that is our former Communications Director Ben Jones costarring in it!

I've been working all week rewriting some web content for the site and my brain is a bit melty. So, as a bit of a break, in the spirit (but without the inspiration) of Ben's big lists, and following up on Hamsika's blog about the Boston Globe special feature on MIT and this Guardian article about inventor culture at MIT, here is the Boston Globe's list of the top 50 "ideas, inventions and innovators that helped shape our world" and were associated with MIT.


  1. Gillette Co. & the Disposable Razor

  2. Wind tunnels (invented at MIT in 1896)

  3. Radar detection/navigation (perfected at MIT durign WWII)

  4. Texas Instruments (cofounded by Cecil Green '24)

  5. Kendall Square (w/ 130 high-tech tenants)

  6. E*Trade, cofounded by MIT Sloan alum William Porter

  7. Electrical, aeronautical, and nuclear engineering, all of which were pioneered at MIT

  8. Modern urban design

  9. The theory of cosmic inflation, developed by Professor Alan Guth '69

  10. Nuclear fission, pioneered by alumnus and Professor Manson Benedict

  11. One Laptop Per Child

  12. The Sloan Automotive Lab

  13. OpenCourseWare

  14. Zipcar

  15. PET Scans

  16. Katharine McCormick - biologist, birth control pioneer, and the second woman to graduate from MIT

  17. Robert Noyce '53, cofounder of Intel & inventor of the microchip

  18. Modern lithium-ion batteries

  19. Modern oil prospecting

  20. The first solar-powered house

  21. Genentech

  22. Refined oil

  23. iWalk bioprosthetics

  24. Big Dog

  25. HP, cofounded by William Hewlett '36

  26. The Executive MBA program at Sloan

  27. The first public health school in the nation

  28. The link between cancer and genetics

  29. Reverse transcription, discovered by David Baltimore, founder of the MIT Whitehead Institute

  30. Condensed soup

  31. Technicolor (itself named after MIT!)

  32. Inertial guidance systems for aircraft

  33. RSA encryption

  34. The first air-conditioned building

  35. The "memex" - which helped inspire the Internet - conceived of by former MIT President Vannevar Bush '16

  36. Akamai, the content delivery network that handles 30% of the world's Internet traffic

  37. The Internet Archive, maintained by Brewster Kahle '82

  38. The spreadsheet, designed by Dan Bricklin '73

  39. E-ink, invented at the MIT Media Lab

  40. Former MIT Professor and Nobel Laureate Salvador Luria

  41. Ivan Getting '33 was a primer developer of GPS

  42. Bose Corporation, founded by MIT Professor Amar Bose

  43. Ellen Swallow Richards, a public-sanitation and environmental chemistry expert and the first woman to graduate from MIT

  44. iRobot, founded by MIT alumni Helen Greneir and Colin Angle

  45. The first interactive minicomputer

  46. Biogen, founded by Philip Sharp, MIT Professor (and a lot more!) since 1974

  47. Email, invented by Ray Tomlinson '65

  48. Transistor radio, co-invented by William Shockley '36

  49. The Human Genome Project, for which MIT's Whitehead Institute, led by Professor Eric Lander, sequenced the most genes

  50. The World Wide Web, invented by MIT Professor Tim Berners-Lee


That's a pretty epic list! What will you do to make it on the MIT 200 retrospective?

Comments (Closed after 30 days to reduce spam)

Whoaaa ... well then it may not be wrong if i say that we live in a world given to us by MIT ... IT's impressive .. amazing .. dun hv words to describe it !!! ..

Posted by: Aman Jain on May 28, 2011

By the time I got to E-mail, I was wondering what could possibly top it. Incredible list, and I'm going to be on the next one!

Posted by: anonymous on May 28, 2011

A few nights ago, after reading too much books on cosmology and watching too much documentaries, I saw Prof. Guth in my dream. We walked and talked for a while. It's such a great pity that I didn't get in MIT! :((

Posted by: Future Hawking on May 29, 2011

Comments have been closed.

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