The Massachusetts Institute of Technology turns 150 this weekend! You're probably thinking—150? That's old! Who cares about something so old! What a geezer!—for shame. MIT's produced the brains behind some of the world's coolest stuff. [via FastCo]
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Yeah, right, Wi-Fi isn't even the new hotness anymore. Our computers have it, our phones have it—wireless is old hat, and the most super-convenient way to network. But ethernet remains a big, snaky part of the internet. And one of the men behind the ubiquitous cord? Robert Metcalf, class of '69.
Intel & The Microchip
Robert Noyce, who picked up his doctorate from MIT, and went on to both co-invent the microchip and found Intel. Not too shabby! So, the odds are fairly high that you've either used or are using something that (indirectly) sprang from this guy's cranium. His alleged earliest childhood memory is the agony of beating his father in ping pong, and having his mother comment, "Wasn't that nice of Daddy to let you win?" I guess that explains a lot about microchips, if you really think about it.
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Ol' TI, founded by MIT grad Cecil Howard Green, has had its fingers on almost every piece of electronic gut there is—lasers in missiles, digital signal processors in audio gear, processors in phones—but at the very least, you've probably held dear a TI-83+ at some point in your educational career. Unless you were one of those supernerds with a more advanced graphing calculator, in which case I hate you. But the things are still everywhere, synonymous with exam anxiety and covert in-class gaming.
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Yeah. Soup. Soup. Probably not what you associate with tech wizardry, but John Thompson Dorrance absorbed the chemical knowhow to turn mass-produced soup into an empire at MIT.
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Live in a city? Don't feel like owning a car? Maybe you use Zipcar! It's a neat convenience, and was co-spawned by MIT grad Robin Chase.
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It's not all as peaceful as graphing calculators and tomato soup, however—some MIT grads go on to make stuff that blows up other stuff, such as James Smith McDonnell. His firm is responsible for linchpins of American air power such as the F-15, the F-18, and the ever-popular Tomahawk missile. Kablooey!
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Okay, so he's not a thing or a company, but he's designed some of the most incredible and significant structures in history—the Louvre's pyramid, the East Wing of the National Gallery, and, controversially, the Hancock Tower in Boston. Where did I.M. Pei pick up his architectural prowess?—Hancock tower aside—you guessed it.