150 fascinating, fun, important, interesting, lifesaving, life-altering, bizarre and bold ways that MIT has made a difference

May 15, 2011

The Boston Globe “MIT 150” special issue (credit:The Boston Globe)

Some were invented at MIT. Others were simply inspired by time spent at MIT. But all of them (well, maybe not #150) have had a profound impact, in one way or another, on society, culture, politics, economics, transportation, health, science, and, oh yes, technology.

In the 150 years since the Commonwealth approved a charter by William Barton Rogers to incorporate the “Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston Society of Natural History” (the Civil War delayed its first classes until 1865), MIT has established itself as the place where great ideas are born. […]

Number 86: Kurzweil’s wild ride

As an MIT sophomore, Ray Kurzweil wrote a computer program to match high school students with their ideal colleges.

He sold the company for $100,000, plus royalties, before graduation.

He went on to invent an electronic keyboard that could produce realistic instrument sounds (for Stevie Wonder), the first flatbed scanner that could convert printed documents into digital form, and a text-to-speech synthesizer capable of reading books to the blind.

Lately, Kurzweil has been writing software to try to predict stock market movements and books that anticipate a point when human and machine intelligence might converge.