Movies in colorThe process that brought colors to movie screens was invented by a company founded in 1915 by Herbert Kalmus, MIT class of 1904. A high school dropout who worked as a carpet salesman, Kalmus joined with another MIT graduate, Daniel Comstock, to launch a company called Technicolor Corporation. So began a 20-year-long effort to create high-quality color films. The 1935 film Becky Sharp was the first full-length three-color movie; five years later, Technicolor won an Oscar for the color photography in Gone With the Wind. And, yes, the tech in Technicolor was Kalmuss tip of the hat to his alma mater.
The new robotsWhen they started
Soup, anyone?The Joseph A. Campbell Preserve Co. of Camden, N.J., had been canning fruits, vegetables, and soups long before John T. Dorrance came along in 1897. But Dorrance, armed with a bachelors from MIT and a doctorate from University of Gottingen in Germany, found that using less water in the soup gave it a more concentrated flavor. The customer would then simply open the can, pour the contents into a saucepan, add water, and heat it up. The idea was so successful that the business changed its name to
Birth of the iPodAs an MIT doctoral student in the early 1950s, Robert Noyce was known as Rapid Robert for his quick mind. As a cofounder of
Virtually thereRather than try to make money by teaching students from afar, MIT leaders in 2002 began providing free access to course materials to anyone, anywhere, who wanted to learn. The OpenCourseWare website inspired other universities to follow, and today anyone with a Web connection can access rich materials and in some cases videos of the lectures for more than 2,000 MIT courses. Its estimated theyve reached 100 million people; theyre shooting for 1 billion. Two entrepreneurs in Haiti learned from MIT how integrated circuits work and installed solar-powered street lamps in some of the countrys poorest areas.
Origami rises upIts hard to imagine the art of folding paper, or origami, having wide-scale implications to the way we live. But Erik Demaine, an MIT computer science professor, won a 2003 MacArthur Fellowship for some pioneering ideas about the importance of understanding folding and bending. The more we know about folding and bending, the more we can improve everything from robotic arms to hydraulic tubes. Demaines artwork was recently selected to appear as part of the Smithsonian Institutions 40 Under 40: Craft Futures exhibition
This jokes on youMIT students took the word prank to new highs (and lows), from parking a police car on the Great Dome (1994) to burying a giant weather balloon beneath the Harvard Stadium field that inflated during a timeout in the annual Harvard-Yale game (1982). See more MIT pranks.
Doctor DolittleHugh Lofting was an Englishman who studied civil engineering at MIT and served in the British Army in World War I. Appalled by the mistreatment and death of horses during the war, Lofting wrote stories and mailed them to his children. They were the tales of a kindly physician who cared for animals. Lofting showed the letters to a writer, who recommended his own publisher. Doctor Dolittle was born.
Scandal!Before there was TMZ and US Weekly, there was (and still is) the National Enquirer. Generoso Pope Jr., godfather of the tabloid, founded the famed publication and is a 1946 MIT graduate. Seriously.
Not Animal HouseOnly at MIT does a single fraternity, Alpha Delta Phi, produce venture capitalists (Brad Feld, a founder of the TechStars program for aspiring entrepreneurs), videogame innovators (Rock Band developer Eran Egozy), public company CEOs (Colin Angle of iRobot), flying car inventors (Carl Dietrich of Terrafugia), and solar power innovators (Frank van Mierlo, CEO of 1366 Technologies).
Name that tuneMax Mathews, who received his doctorate in 1954, helped teach computers how to play a melody by writing MUSIC software.
Say cheese!He did not attend MIT, but he was one of its most famous donors because some of its graduates became his best workers. He gave millions to MIT as Mr. Smith. His real name? George Eastman, who introduced the
RockerTom Scholz, a 1970 MIT graduate, helped launch the rock band Boston and invented the Rockman, a portable amplifier that became a musician favorite for years.
Champ!Larry Horsemeat Kahn graduated MIT in 1976. His great achievement? He held the world singles title in, yes, tiddlywinks. So what world title have you ever held?
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