Editor's note

May 15, 2011

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Fifty years ago, when Massachusetts Institute of Technology celebrated its 100th anniversary, President Kennedy wrote a short note for the special section The Boston Globe published.

He said that MIT has “expanded the horizons of American science and played a vital role in securing the foundations of victory in both World War I and World War II . . . There are few Americans who have not benefited from the scholarship pursued at MIT, whether in engineering, science, architecture, economics, or international study.”

Fifty years later, on MIT’s 150th anniversary, those words remain truer than ever.

It’s a safe bet that nearly every day something you do was the result of something that happened once at MIT. Whether it’s reading your Kindle, listening to your iPod, driving your Zipcar, flying on a Boeing jet, drinking a glass of milk, watching a movie, searching your Gmail account, playing a video game, taking a birth control pill, or receiving medicine that was born out of the biotech boom, MIT’s lasting impact on our society is astounding.

Since its founding, the school has moved from Boston to Cambridge and had 16 presidents, including its current leader, Susan Hockfield, the first woman president. What hasn’t changed is MIT’s remarkable ability to churn out big ideas that affect the way we live.

A special thanks to the writer of our essay, Bill Gates, who did not attend MIT, but certainly grasps how vital it is. Visit to see a few videos about some of the 150 ideas in this magazine. The cool thing is that we had enough ideas to celebrate a 300th anniversary if we had to. That one will have to wait.

Doug Most

Deputy Managing Editor, Features