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50 Years of Wonders – 10 Precious Innovations that MIT Gave the World
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50 Years of Wonders – 10 Precious Innovations that MIT Gave the World

Chances are that most of the electronic devices, gizmos and gadgets you are using are a result of the work and rese...

50 Years of Wonders – 10 Precious Innovations that MIT Gave the World

Chances are that most of the electronic devices, gizmos and gadgets you are using are a result of the work and research made by scientists at MIT. For the last 50 years this university's Computer Science Department has been at the forefront of many advances in computing, and this week MIT is celebrating 50 years of computer science. Here are the 10 most important things that MIT scientists have given to the world, and arguably, made it a more bearable place.

 

1. Project MAC

Project MAC, later renamed as MIT Laboratory for Computer Science, was a research laboratory at MIT. In the past years this project became famous for research in operating systems, artificial intelligence and theory of computation.

 

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2. The World Wide Web

This year, the WWW celebrated its 25th anniversary. It was software engineer Tim Berners-Lee who first worked for CERN, and then moved to MIT and invented the WWW. He also founded the WWW Consortium, the international standards organization.

 

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3. Shooter video games

In order to demonstrate the capabilities of a new mini computer that was installed at MIT in 1961, a group of students invented a game they called “Spacewar!” The game simulated a battle of two ships where both users were able to control a spaceship with the use of keyboard controls or a joystick. Despite the fact it could only run on hardware costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, the game was very popular.

 

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4. Networked email

In the 60's, users were able to send electronic messages to each other if they were using the same computer, but in 1971 MIT's graduate Ray Tomlinson developed a way to send emails between networked computers.

 

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5. Graphical user interfaces

The GUI that are so present today, including smartphones, tablets, and computers, are a result of MIT’s efforts. A string of innovations by MIT students and professors contributed to its development.

 

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6. Ethernet

In 1973 two friends used the word ether as a joke at Xerox PAC in order to describe a prototype of networking technology. Ethernet, the industry standard for local area networking was invented that year.

 

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7. Text-to-speech

The text-to-speech technology is traced to the invention of the Kurzweil Reading Machine, by MIT’s graduate Ray Kurzweil. It was the first product to use artificial technology and it provided a basis for all incoming text speech technology.

 

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8. TCP/IP

This protocol which uses different types of computers on different networks to communicate with each other is known as TCP/IP, and it was developed in the 70's by MIT professors Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf.

 

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9. Electronic spreadsheets

While spreadsheets have been used by accountants throughout the ages, the computerized spreadsheets are a recent invention. It was the creation of VisiCalc by MIT graduates Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston that turned personal computers into serious business tools.

 

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10. Free/open-source software

The practice of computer software makers to prevent the sharing of their source codes and the imposing software licences inspired Richard Stallman, a researcher and hacker at MIT's Artificial Intelligence Lab, to create software that could be freely copied, modified, and shared.

 

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