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MIT staff blogger Chris Peterson SM '13

50 Things (That MIT Made) by Chris Peterson SM '13


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?

3 responses to “50 Things (That MIT Made)”

  1. Aman Jain says:

    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 !!! ..

  2. anonymous says:

    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!

  3. 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! :((