1. Introduction, Course Overview, What is Technology?

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visit MIT OpenCourseWare at ocw.mit.edu. PROFESSOR: Welcome to
STS.050, History of MIT. I'm Professor Mindell. This is Professor Smith. And before we introduce
ourselves or say anything about the class, I just
want to do a little exercise about what do you know
about the history of MIT, either big picture stuff
or even random facts. Yep. AUDIENCE: Used to be in Boston. PROFESSOR: Sorry. Used to be in Boston. OK. That is correct. PROFESSOR: Used to be
called [INAUDIBLE] Boston. As sort of a nickname. AUDIENCE: Don't remember. AUDIENCE: Boston Tech. PROFESSOR: Boston Tech. Yep. AUDIENCE: I think it
was founded in 1861. PROFESSOR: That's correct. PROFESSOR: Jeez. You don't need this class. PROFESSOR: Yep. AUDIENCE: I think
because of the Civil War, it had to wait to open.

PROFESSOR: OK. That's correct, too. The American Civil War started
right after the founding. And there weren't any classes
taught for about four years. AUDIENCE: It was founded
by William Barton Rogers. PROFESSOR: OK. That's also good. PROFESSOR: What
was his nickname? AUDIENCE: Barty? [LAUGHTER] AUDIENCE: William Rogers. PROFESSOR: I don't
think he had a nickname. AUDIENCE: William Bart Rogers. PROFESSOR: Cool. Bart. PROFESSOR: What was it? Do you know? PROFESSOR: No. PROFESSOR: Billy? PROFESSOR: We had a house
master over at Burton Conner. We had a reunion the
other day, and they had a big picture
William Barton Rogers. And one of the students
came up and put a ID clip on and it said Billy. So maybe it's Billy. PROFESSOR: Somebody
sent me– there is one sentence in all
of his papers and letters and records which shows
any amount of cheerfulness or playfulness,
which is, I think it was after his brother
died, he wrote to someone about six months later
said, I'm finally starting to feel brisk again. He was a serious guy. What else do we know about MIT? AUDIENCE: They got one of
the federal land grants.

PROFESSOR: OK. Good. We'll certainly talk
about what that means. Yep. AUDIENCE: Me? PROFESSOR: Yep. AUDIENCE: I think at
least when it started out, there weren't any
female students. PROFESSOR: OK. That's true. No women at first, but later on. We'll also talk
a lot about that. Yep. AUDIENCE: At some point
there was discussion about wanting to
merge with Harvard. PROFESSOR: Oh, OK. Many points as it turns out. PROFESSOR: Yeah. Five or six. We don't have to just
talk about the founding in the early years.

There's a lot of
time in between. So. Yep. AUDIENCE: It got a lot
of money from Polaroid to build a new campus. PROFESSOR: OK. MERRITT ROE SMITH: Polaroid? PROFESSOR: Polaroid? AUDIENCE: It was one of
the guys who started Kodak. PROFESSOR: Eastman Kodak. PROFESSOR: Kodak. Eastman Kodak. See, I knew he was gonna
jump on you because he's from Rochester, New York,
home of Eastman Kodak. PROFESSOR: That's right. Yeah. Polaroid is a Boston
company with ties to MIT, although not specifically
an MIT spin-off, starting in the
1930s, really getting going in the '50s and '60s. Whereas Eastman Kodak
started around the turn of the 20th century. Anybody know the
year that MIT moved across the river from
Boston to Cambridge? AUDIENCE: 1916. PROFESSOR: 1916. Right. So that's also a
pretty important date. Nobody's mentioned anything
that was invented here. Maybe nothing was. AUDIENCE: Radar. PROFESSOR: Sorry. AUDIENCE: There was a lot of
development for the radar– PROFESSOR: OK. Radar, certainly. Anybody know where
the radar development took place physically? AUDIENCE: W 20. Or not W 20, Building 20. PROFESSOR: Yeah. PROFESSOR: Anybody
know where that was? AUDIENCE: Where
Stata is right now.

PROFESSOR: Yeah. Right there. PROFESSOR: To give you an
idea how long I've been here, my first office
was in Building 20. And, the offices
in that building, it was like a WWII barracks. It was all made of
wood, basically. It's a wonder it
didn't burn down, all this stuff that
went on in there. But my office was huge. But the problem was
that by the time I got there, it was
pretty well run down. And there was a hole in
the wall and squirrels used to run around inside
and then dash out. Our colleague, Leo Marks,
you'll hear about today, had an even bigger–
his office was like a one bedroom
apartment over there.

It's really cool. A lot of stuff went on there. AUDIENCE: Which building
is better, 20 or Stata? PROFESSOR: I haven't had
enough experience in Stata to tell you. Stata visually, of course,
is far more interesting, but I hear it leaks. Building 20 didn't leak. AUDIENCE: Except
for the squirrels. PROFESSOR: Pardon? AUDIENCE: Except
for the squirrels. PROFESSOR: I still didn't hear. AUDIENCE: Except
for the squirrels. PROFESSOR: Except
for the squirrels. Yes. PROFESSOR: Building 20 was built
in, I think, under six months in 1940, 1941. PROFESSOR: Yeah. PROFESSOR: And it
lasted for 50 years. PROFESSOR: Well, it
was torn down what? 10 years ago, maybe? PROFESSOR: Yeah,
not that long ago. PROFESSOR: Not so long ago. Long ago in your lifetimes. But in mine, a mere drop. PROFESSOR: Anything else? AUDIENCE: The
departments here have gone through a lot of changes. PROFESSOR: OK. The departments certainly have. Although a lot of them
are also quite similar. Yep. AUDIENCE: During the 1960s,
the basement of Building 10 was excavated for
a super laser that was designed to
bounce off a orbiting satellite out to
the Soviet Union.

That was one of our
weapons in the Cold War that no one ever knew of. PROFESSOR: Oh. That's news to me. I didn't know about that. Ah. AUDIENCE: That's awesome. PROFESSOR: Is it still there? AUDIENCE: Yeah. It's a secret sub-basement. [LAUGHTER] PROFESSOR: You got
to take us on a tour. Does anybody know how much
secret research goes on on this campus? Military secret research? AUDIENCE: None anymore? PROFESSOR: That's right, none. Does MIT do any secret research? PROFESSOR: Yeah. AUDIENCE: Not that we know of. PROFESSOR: Well. [LAUGHTER] PROFESSOR: No? PROFESSOR: No? PROFESSOR: Actually, MIT does
a lot of secret research. It's just not– PROFESSOR: Here. PROFESSOR: Here.

Where is it? AUDIENCE: Lincoln Labs. PROFESSOR: Lincoln Labs
out in the suburbs. Yeah. So that's certainly a
thing we'll come across, too, is Cold War and
generally the relationships with the military. Anybody know what MIT's
budget is roughly? $100 billion? $100 million? AUDIENCE: Endowment's
like $8 billion. PROFESSOR: Yeah. Endowment's between $8
billion and $10 billion, depending on how you count. What do we spend every year? About $1 billion. PROFESSOR: Really? My god. I didn't know it was that much. PROFESSOR: A big part of that
is actually at Lincoln Labs. I forget exactly. 10% or 20%. AUDIENCE: I wonder
how many people– PROFESSOR: Work. Including students? How many students are
there, first of all? Anybody know how
many undergrads? AUDIENCE: 4,000? PROFESSOR: What is it? It's like 4,100 today or– PROFESSOR: Is it? Really. PROFESSOR: Around. It's about to grow a
little bit to about 4,500. How many grad students? AUDIENCE: 6,000. PROFESSOR: About the
same, 5,000 to 6,000. Then another 5,000 or so
faculty and staff people and other kinds of researchers.

Anybody know how many
faculty there are? Roughly about 1,000. About 960 maybe. PROFESSOR: Does that
include adjuncts? PROFESSOR: No. AUDIENCE: Just straight
regular faculty. PROFESSOR: There aren't very
many adjunct faculty, actually. So, about 1,000 faculty. Interestingly, that number
has not grown more than 10% in the last 20 years. Whereas the budget and
the general size of MIT has about tripled
in that time frame. So, if you ever wonder why
the professor seem overworked, that's why. Anything else about
the history of MIT? Big accomplishments. AUDIENCE: Nobel Prize winners. PROFESSOR: Lots of Nobel
Prize winners for sure. AUDIENCE: Instrumentations
Lab during the Apollo program. And apparently like a
third of NASA's astronauts have been MIT educated
at some point.

PROFESSOR: OK. Big connection to NASA. MIT built the computers
that landed on the Moon. I think about a third of the
people who walked on the Moon were MIT graduates. And about a third of the
total American astronauts had been MIT graduates,
which I think is more than anywhere else. And I think that also I
read a statistic where– AUDIENCE: Other than
military academies. PROFESSOR: Sorry. AUDIENCE: Other than military– PROFESSOR: Other than
the military academy. A third of all US
human space flights have had MIT graduates on them. We're gonna have a big astronaut
reunion this spring, actually, which you'll all be invited
to as part of the class.

Not all of them but quite a good
number of them are coming back. So a lot of connections
to the space program. What else? PROFESSOR: Do you know who's
chairing the 150th anniversary? [LAUGHTER] PROFESSOR: So we'll talk
a little bit about that. Other facts about MIT? AUDIENCE: Was
high-speed photography developed by an MIT Professor? PROFESSOR: Not
exactly high-speed photography, but close. Anybody know what the actual
technical part of that is? AUDIENCE: He did the strobes. PROFESSOR: Electronic strobes. So up until not that long
ago, certainly in my lifetime, if you bought a camera,
it came with flashbulbs which were like
in a little cube. Anybody ever seen a flash cube? And they go pshh. And that was it. One picture and then
they'd turn around. And you'd get four per cube. And Edgerton invented what is
now on not only on your cameras but maybe even on your phones,
the actual electronic strobe.

Which means that you could
fire it with a battery and it was basically usable
hundreds of thousands of times, which had made possible
high-speed photography. We'll talk about
that a little bit. Other interesting
facts about MIT? Anybody name a company that
was started by MIT graduates? AUDIENCE: Analog Devices. PROFESSOR: Analog
Devices is one. Sorry. AUDIENCE: Bose. PROFESSOR: Bose is one. AUDIENCE: iRobot? PROFESSOR: Sorry. AUDIENCE: iRobot. PROFESSOR: IRobot. AUDIENCE: A123 Systems. PROFESSOR: A123. AUDIENCE: Harmonics. PROFESSOR: Harmonics. AUDIENCE: TerraFusion. PROFESSOR: Sorry. AUDIENCE: TerraFusion. PROFESSOR: TerraFusion. AUDIENCE: Dropbox. PROFESSOR: Dropbox.

That's right. I use Dropbox all the time. Not actually Polaroid. Raytheon was started
partly by MIT folks. MERRITT ROE SMITH: Miter. PROFESSOR: The
Miter Corporation. I'm just trying to think
a little bit further back into time. Anybody ever hear of the
Digital Equipment Corporation? That's kind of before this
generation a little bit. So obviously, nobody
said anything too much about computers. Lot of the work in
computing was done here, software, artificial
intelligence, robotics. Human Genome Project. Anybody ever hear of that? Significant fraction
of that was here. We'll come across 1,000
things that you didn't even think of were here.

OK. PROFESSOR: I think one
of the great inventors is still living here– I mean
of the fairly distant past– and that's Jay Forrester. Have you ever heard of him? What do you recollect, Eric? Pardon. AUDIENCE: The
Whirlwind computer. PROFESSOR: Whirlwind, yes. And why was that a
significant development? Do you remember? Well, you got the
Whirlwind all right.

It's the first core memory. One of the first random-access
core memories, as I recollect. So it had great
significance to the building of the type of computers
that you're using and the desktops
and all of that. It was very, very basic. It's said that IBM
really made its money off the use of that development. And I was in conversations
many years ago in which President
Wiesner expressed some discontent about the fact
that IBM had not ponied up enough support money for
MIT because it had gotten so much from MIT in terms
of it's technical. I don't know how true that is. But Jerry Wiesner sure
was not happy about that, I know that much.

PROFESSOR: Also, Whirlwind was
sort of the first real-time interactive– PROFESSOR: Yeah. PROFESSOR: –computer,
which was– PROFESSOR: Where did
the money come from it? Who supported that? AUDIENCE: Navy? PROFESSOR: Pardon. AUDIENCE: The navy? PROFESSOR: Well, partly
navy, partly air force. Yeah. A lot of military contracting
down here after World War II. We'll see that. I mean that's a big
part of the system. PROFESSOR: Anybody know where
the Whirlwind computer was back in the days when computers had
entire buildings themselves? It was on Mass Ave. in
the Barta Building, which is now where IS&T is. Anybody know where that is? PROFESSOR: Some people are
shaking their heads almost in disgust. [LAUGHTER] PROFESSOR: OK. So I just want to start with a
little brainstorming about some of the things that
are gonna come up over the course of the term. Maybe we'll introduce
ourselves first. I'll ask Professor Smith
to introduce himself, say a little bit about
his research and stuff.

PROFESSOR: OK. Hi. My name full name is
Merritt Roe Smith, but I go by my middle name, Roe. And I'm a member
of two faculties here, the STS faculty that David
chairs and also the history faculty. And I've been here since 1979. So I've been here quite a while. And my research
interests are primarily in 19th century industrial
history and technology. And as I've said
to many friends, my expertise falls off
rapidly after World War I. But the good news is
that his picks up rapidly in that period. And so David is the
expert on the modern era of MIT's history. So we make a fairly good team. I will give the earlier
lectures on William Barton Rogers and things like that. I guess my main my
main research has been about machine tools
and the development of interchangeable
parts manufacturing. And I'm particularly
interested in that subject because that, too, was a
military-sponsored technology that had a tremendous
spin-off effect that once these new techniques
were developed for making guns, the machine tools and gauging
methods and things like that, were disseminated into all
sorts of manufacturing, one of the first
being sewing machines.

So it was primarily
a technology used by women in which this gun
making technology found it's earliest applications. And then you can see it
spreading further out until you see the earliest
automobiles in the United States being made with very
similar methods that come right out of this old
gun-making industry. So those are the sorts
of things that I'm interested in basically is
how new technologies develop and how they get disseminated. PROFESSOR: So I'm David Mindell. As Roe mentioned, I'm in the
program in Science, Technology, and Society as an
historian of technology, which I'm the
director of, and also in aeronautics and astronautics. I'm actually an
electrical engineer interested in electronics
and control systems. But these days a lot
of my work in that area happens in the aerospace world
so I'm dual in AeroAstro.

Most of my research is
focused, as Roe mentioned, on 20th century, some of
it military technology, particularly control
systems and feedback control and digital computers. And I wrote a book
about the Apollo program and the computers
that we mentioned before that were used
to land on the moon. And I'm generally interested
in human machine interaction and the ways the evolving
technology changes the rules of the users
and of the people who are operating systems. And that's still something
that I study today. Done a lot of work
in the undersea world doing exploration of the
deep ocean with robots. Anybody here ever participate
in the JASON project? In junior high? No. Did a lot of work with deep-sea
robots exploring shipwrecks around the world. And that still interests me. And now I work a
lot on space flight in aviation, too, and
what roles people have in technological systems
and how those roles change as technologies evolve
and how the engineers who build those technologies
think about people.

There's really sort
of two or three things that led us to begin
teaching this class. This is the second
time we've taught it. We taught it last
spring as well. And one of them
is obvious, which is that, as you
probably all know, this semester is MIT's 150th
anniversary celebrations. And I've been chairing
the planning committee for those celebrations
for the last few years. And when I started doing that, I
didn't know anything about MIT. And in grand tradition,
when you don't know anything about a subject, you get a bunch
of students in a room and start teaching about it and you
all sort of learn together. And so that was part of
the idea for the class. And then another part of
the idea for the class was there's actually been only
in the last few years enough really professionally
written history about MIT.

So that we won't spend
the whole term talking about just the
fraternities and sororities and the great inventions
and the sort of great man history of MIT. We'll do some of that. But there's also been
enough professional history where you can really
talk about what is the history of
science and technology? How does it evolve? How do technologies
and knowledge evolve– which is really
what both Roe and I study in our different contexts–
and use MIT as a lens through which to look at that
issue over the last 150 years.

So we will be looking at some
of those larger questions. What counts as knowledge? How do engineers work? How do scientists work? How do they interact with
the larger society, both the politics and the culture
and the social questions? And how do they actually carry
on their work day to day? And what does it mean to invent
something or create a new idea? And fortunately, there's enough
material out there on MIT that we can examine
those questions through the history of MIT. And then it happened
that because Roe is a 19th-century expert and I
work more on the 20th century, we kind of got together and
roughly split the material. We'll go back and
forth quite a bit as well, especially this term. This term is a
little bit special, more than a little bit. It's a lot special and
a little bit different from last term in that the
actual 150th celebrations are going on as we're taking the
class and teaching the class.

And so you'll see a
little bit about that as we pass out the syllabus. So that's just sort of a rough
introduction to the class. I also wanted to ask Michaela
Thompson to introduce herself as our teaching assistant. MICHAELA THOMPSON: Hi. I'm Michaela Thompson. I'm a third-year PhD
student in the HASS program. And I study,
basically, the history of biology and
environmental history. PROFESSOR: And among many
other cool facts about Michaela is that if you go to
the Boston Aquarium and see the penguins
swimming around– MICHAELA THOMPSON: I'm
down in there with them. PROFESSOR: She's the lady in
the wetsuit feeding the penguins and swimming around with them.

Maybe we'll take a field
trip and come see her when she's working one day. MICHAELA THOMPSON:
I will be there and I will wave at all of you. PROFESSOR: So maybe we
should pass out the syllabus and we can sort of walk through. Any questions on what
we've talked about so far? MICHAELA THOMPSON: Is
anybody missing a syllabus? PROFESSOR: Oh, we
already passed out. OK, good. I don't have one yet. So just to go through
the top, we really talked about this description. Again, there are
a number of themes that are in this sort
of first paragraph that will keep coming
up again and again. The relationship of MIT
to the surrounding city and the region and the country.

Stories about MIT
students and professors. The student body and
who is an MIT student and how does that
person– there is no typical profile,
or really at any time, but the student body
changes quite a bit over the course of
these 150 years. That's something
we'll be looking at. The physical development
of the campus. We talked about the move a
little bit across the river.

MIT's relationship
with industry. That's a big one, which
is kind of a pendulum that swings every 10 years or so. Too much industrial involvement,
not enough relevance to industry, too much
industrial involvement, not enough– practically
see– maybe somebody can calculate the period
of that pendulum for us. It's pretty
predictable, actually. And then, also,
MIT's relationship to the government,
which you might guess moves almost exactly the same
as the relationship to industry but in the opposite direction.

Where are we now in that swing? Does anybody want to
have a guess on that? I would say that we're probably
at the point of just beginning the swing beginning away from
government back toward industry for a while. Because the stimulus package
that Obama passed in 2008 was very, very
supportive of MIT. And that's about to run out. And generally the government
is about to run out of money altogether. And that's gonna be a big issue
for MIT in the coming five years or so.

And naturally that swings
back toward industry. A little bit about requirements. We do want you to come
to class every week. We do want you to participate
in the discussions. We will ask for you to close
your laptops when we're having a class discussion,
which is generally gonna be the second
half of the class. You can use them for
the notes and things in the first half of the class. And then there's a series
of reflection papers, which is a significant amount of the
work over the course the term. We want you to submit
them online to the TA. And, let's see what's
the actual number. There are 11 class sessions
where there is actually reading that's assigned. And so we're gonna ask you to
submit eight reflection papers. So you can opt out
of any three weeks over the course of the term.

And when you do
submit the papers, we would like them to have them
the night before by 5 o'clock. And there's a reason
for that, which is then we'll compile all the questions
and the thoughts the people have from those
reflection papers and use them as the starting
point for the discussion the following day. So we need to have those then. We're not gonna grade
them A, B, C, or D, but we do want to
see people thinking through what's on
the reflections.

One to two pages is
all that is required. Then of those eight
reflection papers– you'll notice when we
come to the syllabus that a number of the days
that we meet in class are concurrent with
the MIT 150th Symposia. And so if you like, you
can write reflection paper on the symposia instead of on
the readings for that week, with basically the
same requirements. And then they're going to be two
writing assignments, basically two papers, which we'll
send out the assignments for as the time goes closer. And one of the really nice
things about teaching it this term, even as
opposed to a year ago, is– I'll show you
in a few minutes.

There's a vast amount of
material, just raw material, on the web that's been made
available from which we can use as research materials
for these papers. So there's the breakdown of
the grading, 20% on the papers, big band on the
writing assignment, and then class participation. Although, somehow that
doesn't add up to 100. We must have missed a
line from last year. [LAUGHTER] PROFESSOR: We'll get
back to you on that one. Somehow we must have
edited something. Oh no, sorry, there's two
writing assignments, 70 and then 30. There's the absence policy. There's really only
one required book. I see one person's picked
it up already, which is the book that David
Kaiser– our colleague– edited called Moments of
Decision, which they had no intention of this when
they put this book together. But it really comes
out almost perfectly as a textbook for the course. Do you want to say anything
more about the book, Roe? PROFESSOR: Well, the
essays in it are not long. I'll tell you that. Each essay's around 15 printed
pages, 17, somewhere in there. So they're easily read.

I've read the entire
book twice now. And I contributed
an essay to it. But quite apart from
my essay, I actually think these essays
are pretty damn good. And it's the sort of book that
you can use in this class. And then you could
turn around and give it to your parents or somebody
like that because it does a good encapsulated
history of MIT at certain– it's not a complete
history of MIT. But it looks at the
critical moments. And I think it's a
good little book. I'll say that much. PROFESSOR: Good, I agree. I should say also next Tuesday,
February 15, from 4:00 to 6:00 we're having an event as
part of the 150th that is more or less the authors from
these books getting together to talk about the
history of MIT. And so you'd be welcome
to join us for that.

And then there are going to be
additional readings, a fairly significant amount of them,
available on the MIT site. I'm sure you've all taken
humanities classes at MIT before. There's a lot of reading
in the humanities. That's sort of the equivalent
of the problem sets is reading through a fairly
large amount of material and absorbing it
and then fitting it into the rest of the material. So that's a very important
part of the class. And we do expect you to
spend sort of the equivalent amount of time that you
would spend on a problem set in a science class
on the reading. So just to go
through a little bit week by week, what
we'll do today, when we're done going
through the syllabus, I want to show you a little
video about the founding of MIT and then a little bit
about web resources.

And then we'll take a
break, which we'll always do about halfway through
the three hour period because it is a
long time period. And during the break,
we'll give you extra time to read an article
that we'll pass out which is about the birth and
the idea of technology, which turns out is not a very old
idea and is almost exactly the same age as MIT. The t in MIT was one of the
very significant first uses of the word technology. And then we'll come back
for a little discussion of the ideas in that article. And then toward the
end of the class, Karen Arenson will come in. And she actually
is past president of the MIT Alumni
Association and Brass member of the Corporation. But also is a
journalist who conducted 100 or so oral history
interviews with people about the last 40 years of MIT. And she'll talk a little
bit about that process. Then next week, we go way
back before even the founding. Do you want to say anything
about that week, Roe? PROFESSOR: Well
yeah, the second week is basically trying to put
MIT in a larger context.

So I'm going to give a lecture
about the United States circa 1850, 1860, the years
that William Barton Rogers was beginning to formulate
this plan for what he called a
"polytechnic institute." And so the readings here,
there are two readings. One of them is from
a textbook that I was one of the co-authors of. It's the one that's listed
under Pauline Maier's name. Actually, the pages
you'll be reading there are pages
that I've written in the text on the
1850's basically. So you'll get my take on that
period from the textbook, basically. And then the other
reading is, I would say, a broader cultural, political
look at the United States between 1820 and 1860 that
looks very broadly at society. So that's even a bigger
picture of the United States during this period. And the idea here is
just to kind of immerse you in that period
to get you thinking about why was a
technical institute necessary at this point in time? Why 1861 and not 1900
or sometime like that? It turns out that
MIT's founding, it occurs at a very
important moment in history.

And one of the things I want
to talk about in my lecture is why 1861 basically. Why is this the
right moment to found an institute of technology? There's none other like
it prior to the Civil War. There were other engineering
schools, but not like MIT. MIT was different. And I'll say one thing
too about this place. The more I learn about MIT,
the more I'm amazed by it. It's really an
interesting place. And I didn't know much
about MIT's history until about two years
ago when I started preparing for this essay
on William Barton Rogers. But the more I learn about
it, the more captivated I've become by the history of
this place and all the things that it's done.

I don't think there's another
educational institution, or surely a higher
educational institution, in the United
States that has had a more interesting history
than this place has. We're sure to get arguments
from people up the street. But that's just my own
personal perspective. It's quite a
remarkable institution. And it takes root in the
middle of the American Civil War of all times, one of
the worst possible moments to try to found a college. How did that happen? So that's what that second
week is basically about is how did this
place get started? And why? PROFESSOR: Because we'll
come across this then, too. The actual date of the
signing of the charter for MIT is April 10, 1861. April 12, 1861 is the
firing on Fort Sumter, which is the first combat
of the Civil War. So you'll see this next week. Poor William Barton Rogers
spends 30 years pursuing his dream and
finally achieves it. And then the whole country
blows up in his face basically.

PROFESSOR: Not a good time. PROFESSOR: So the next
week too then we also focus on the founding
and the early years. You want to just walk through
this part of the syllabus? PROFESSOR: Yeah, the
third week will be mainly about William Barton Rogers and
his vision for the institute and how this place gets started. And in the essay you'll read
in this little book here, you'll see that I have some
things to say about the role the government played in
giving MIT the wherewithal to get started.

The state of Massachusetts
grants it land over in Boston. And then it subvents it to the
tune of– I don't know how many current dollars. But I think it's
around $300,000, a lot of money in those days. But without that money,
initial seed money basically, MIT would have had
an almost impossible time. Because once the
government of Massachusetts signed on to this place and
said, we'll give you a charter. We'll give you some land. And we'll give you some money. That gave a signal
to private donors that this place had a future. And that it was
worth investing in. And then, of course, there
were private donations that were very important too. But it's that sort of
story I want to talk about is how did Rogers get
the place started? And then who were the early
faculty that he recruited? Because it takes off in an
extremely interesting way and in a way that
really comports nicely with what MIT
is all about today.

The original ideals of MIT
in 1865 and those today are not that different
in my opinion. There are differences. But the Mens et Manus
theme in the seal is a very interesting
and revealing way to think about this place. It hasn't changed. Well, it's changed, but–
so that's the third week. And then the fourth week
is basically– well, it's about two things.

One of you mentioned
earlier about Harvard trying to take over MIT. And that's a fascinating story. Harvard makes that attempt
at least five times, if not six, starting in
1872 and continuing up until World War
I or thereabouts. And each time– well, it comes
very close once in the early 1900's. There was actually
a time when you could get a joint degree
from Harvard and MIT. And it was looking
very much like the two places might merge. But it never happened. But that's an interesting
story that all MIT alums like to talk about and
students I suppose. And then the other
part of it is how this new campus, the so-called
campus, that we're on today, how did that come about? And of course, it
wouldn't have happened without George
Eastman first of all.

George Eastman put up an
amazing number of dollars to build the main part
of the campus here. The big dome
buildings and all that were all built
with Eastman money. And it's an interesting story
because I forget exactly how much he granted MIT initially. But President Maclaurin,
who was the president of MIT at that time, kept
going back to him. George, could you put a
little more on the till here? And each time he'd write a
check, very, very generous. And he wasn't a MIT graduate. I don't think he had
any MIT affiliation. But he employed
some MIT graduates. And I think that was
what– he thought, they produce a good
product down there. I'm going to
support that school. And so that's basically
why he put up so much money to build a campus. But we'll have Mark
Jarzombek come in. He's written a book about the
physical facility or the campus itself, the building
of the campus. And he'll be the guest
speaker that day.

And he has really
interesting things to say. He's written a book
about that topic. But they'll be some
good visuals that you'll be able to see in this too. PROFESSOR: And
that's really kind of the end of the
beginning for MIT. PROFESSOR: Yep. PROFESSOR: In that. And people at the
time, you'll see them say, up until that point
there was always money trouble. We never knew if we were going
to be around in five years. But once they move over
to this side of the campus and they build the
buildings, which puts them in a bit
of a hole for a while financially, but really is
the time that MIT arrived.

And they feel like
that it's really become something that's
going to be lasting, only 50 years
after the founding. Then the next week we move
into what people sometimes call the progressive era,
the age of big business also. And actually our guest
speaker is Ross Bassett, who was a colleague of
ours, not from here. He's written a very interesting
piece, which we'll read, about students from India
coming to MIT in the 1930's. And there were only
about 20 or 30 students from India coming to MIT during
that whole 10 year period. But they were all from the 20
or 30 most prominent families in India and went back
and did amazing things in their own countries as well. And that's the
sort of jumping off point for our conversation
about MIT's relationships with the rest of the world
and the positioning of MIT as a global university, which
is obviously a very big thing today.

And again, there's
a lot of issues there during that
period about industry and the appropriate
role of industry. And people are
feeling at the time that MIT has gotten much
too close to industry. And professors are behaving
more like consultants than they are like scientists. And that all sort of
turns around in 1930. We'll talk about
that in week six, both the relationships with
the military during World War I and the hiring of
Karl Compton in 1930, who was the first
scientist– I think he's the first scientist or the
first physical scientist who leads MIT and really
brings the institute back toward a basic science
foundation, which is still something that you'll see
in your own educations, and sets it up for the
second World War in a way. So that's the middle of March. Then in week seven there's one
of the symposia for the 150th. There are six symposia
over the course of the semester about
the 150th anniversary. And two or three
of them are meeting on a time that happens
to be a Monday. And I have to be
there all day anyway because I'm introducing it
and sort of put it together.

And what we'll do is
we'll have class time just be attend the symposium. Now, you don't have to
actually attend the three hours 1:00 to 4:00. We happen to know that's
free in your schedule. So that's a good time to go. But any three hours over
the course of those two days will be fine. And that one is about women
in science and engineering at MIT, which is a
pretty major part of the history in
the last 10 years here starting just about
10 years ago with a very famous report that came
out, which was, in a sense, nothing short of revolutionary.

And actually, Lotte Bailyn,
who wrote the article in this book– the Kaiser
book– about that moment also was one of the key authors
of that women in science report and is one of the organizers
of that symposium. PROFESSOR: One other point
is to note now week six, we're dealing with
the '20s and '30s. And now in week
seven, we're kind of jumping chronological
a little bit to more current events.

We have to do that
because the symposia is scheduled at this time. So there's going to be
some jumping around here that we can't avoid. But the themes are
sufficiently important that we think that going
to that symposia would be extremely
interesting and educational. PROFESSOR: Yeah,
on the one hand, we're roughly moving
chronologically over the course of the term.

But inevitably, even as we've
been doing already today, we're going to jump around
throughout the 150 year history because things will come
up that are relevant today or things that were past. So the class is not organized
around the idea of suspense where wait and see what
happens in the 1980s that you'll only learn
in the last week. You're going to incorporate that
over the course of the term. Then on week eight, we're
going to actually meet at the MIT Museum
where they have a special exhibition about MIT. Has anybody been to
the exhibition so far? So they put that together
for the 150th anniversary. It almost reads like a syllabus
for the class in some ways and also does a really good
job of tying these larger themes together about
different kinds of innovation and education and how those
two things tie together.

And Debbie Douglas, who was the
curator who put that together, will give us our personal
tour through that exhibit. It's not actually
part of class time. But then I just put on
the syllabus April 10 is the convocation, which
is the ceremonial center of the 150th anniversary. It's open to all faculty,
staff, and students and alums and happens down at the
Boston convention center. So I certainly
encourage you all to go. The governor of
Massachusetts will be there.

Quite a number of other high
profile speakers will be there. And I'll show you
a little bit later about the mid-century
convocation, which happened in 1949, which
it's roughly modeled on. Then that very week,
actually it's the day after, is a symposium on computation
and the transformation of practically everything. Again, that one happens
to meet on a Monday. So class will just be attending
the symposium that day. Excuse me. Then we kind of pick up
our historical thread again with World War
II, also really quite a critical turning
point for the institute. One that I've done a
lot of work on that really begins to see
where we are today.

Then we'll go into the Cold War. Again, one could teach an entire
class on MIT in the Cold War as one of our
colleagues, David Kaiser, actually teaches a class on
science and the Cold War. And then week 12,
we sort of bring it up to the last 40 years or so. And in a way, that's been
the hardest part of the class to teach because it's
not yet history as much as the rest of it is.

And yet, it's still
in the making. And actually, the final
writing assignment really is partly to ask
you guys to help make that history of
the last 40 years or so. Because there's a
lot of things that haven't been written
about that we don't really know that some research
into the archives will really help us with. Although this year, we
have the oral histories that we didn't have last year. And I'll show you
those in a moment. So it's actually going to
be a pretty packed semester. There's a lot going on. It's a big history. There's a lot that happened. But we'll hope you'll get
some sense both for where the place that you're
going to school at came from, why you are expected
to take the classes that you're expected to take– the
GIRs in particular– what is the philosophy
behind the education that you're getting, no
matter what major you're in.

How many people are
undergrads here by the way? Any grad students? Couple of grad students. And those are two
things– we'll talk about how those two
things, the undergrad and the grad experience,
relate to each other. And hopefully at
the end of the term it will all make perfect
sense to all of you. Any questions about the
syllabus or assignments or any of those things? One of the really interesting
things about the 150th and about teaching the
class and writing this book and a lot of the other
things we're doing is that there isn't really
a fixed history of MIT. And as any historian
will tell you, what constitutes the history
of any subject changes in each generation and in a
sense is constantly rewritten. We like to think we don't
write too much of it according to today's
values and points of view.

And at the same
time, we always know that we see things
from our point of view. And so you look back. And you see things that are
important in one generation that were less important in
another generation and vice versa. And what's been
really interesting about the last couple years
and the next few months is that we are again
rewriting the history of MIT. This book is one
attempt to do that.

And one of the things
that came out of that was this little
video that I want to show you which, in a
way, really will anticipate a lot of the themes for
the reading for next week. It really gets us started on
how we think about these things. And over the course
of the 150 you'll see we put together about
five or six 12 minute videos on different aspects
of the institute. Some of them are
more historical. Some of them are
more current day. One of them focuses on
students and student life. One of them focuses
on entrepreneurship. And this one focuses
on the founding of MIT. And you'll see, maybe, a
familiar name or face in there. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] -Today's Massachusetts
Institute of Technology is a world class center
for teaching and research. Faculty, students,
and researchers are united in their
goal to advance the frontiers of knowledge and
solve contemporary real world problems, following the vision
laid out for MIT 150 years ago.

But the place
itself has certainly evolved and flourished
since those early days. It's hard to imagine how much
the scientific landscape has changed from when founder
William Barton Rogers first started thinking about a new
kind of polytechnic institute. -William Barton Rogers
was born at the beginning of the 19th century. And that marks the beginning
of an extraordinary time in US history. It's really the
transition that we're going to witness over a century
from an agrarian, rural country into an urban and
industrial country. -We're beginning to see the
emergence of large cities, factories, railroads, canals,
all the early instruments of big time industry
in the United States. -There's surveying involved. There's mechanical engineering. There's geology. There's all kinds of
civil engineering. -The sense of possibility of
what this new technology would mean for the country was
very much on Rogers' mind.

-William Barton Rogers had a
lifelong interest in education. And by 1835, he's a professor
at the University of Virginia. He soon signs on to
lead a geological survey for the state. Though he loves the project,
he has a big problem finding qualified workers. -Rogers' inability to hire
workers for his survey, that combined scientific
knowledge and the ability to use technical apparatus,
was a great problem to his way of thinking. He wasn't the only person
that needed an individual with that skill. The world was filled
with new industries. And they all needed people
that combined smarts and skill. -Eventually, Rogers
decides to leave behind the frustrations and
political turmoil he's encountered in
Virginia's slave society and moved north to the
vibrant city of Boston. -Boston was one of the
leading commercial centers of the country. And the area surrounding
Boston was without question the most developed industrially
of any state in the union. -There probably was
not an American city that had more of a need
for engineers than Boston. The city itself was
being transformed by one of the
greatest engineering projects of the 19th century,
the filling in of the back bay.

-And then you had
these reform movements, temperance movements,
pacifist movements, and of course the famous
anti-slavery abolitionist movement. This was the place. Boston was so radical
in its reform spirit. -The wealth generated
by all of this industry Bostonians put into various
philanthropic enterprises, endowing schools, hospitals,
libraries, museums, various institutions which
benefit the broader community. -Rogers writes in
his memoirs how much he likes the so-called
enterprising spirit and even uses the word knowledge
seeking spirit of this area. -For decades, Rogers had been
talking with his brother Henry about a new kind of
polytechnic institution. -At the time, the
ideals of science really focused on fundamental
principles somewhat disconnected from the
real problems of industry and the people who
worked in industry. -They began thinking about
how to incorporate science into what they referred
to as the useful arts. Today we would call
that technology. -It's a revolutionary
idea that someone will go to school
to get training to become an architect,
an engineer, a scientist. These are typically
occupations that people would learn by doing.

-This was experimental
from the get go. Even the word technology
was new at that time. -He wanted students who had
a grasp of human nature, of basic sciences,
of mathematics far beyond the requirements for
making this or that machine work. He wanted to train students who
would be able to kind of guide the nation through
industrialization, not just build the widgets. -Different players
are coming together, trying to bring a bunch of
different scientific and practical institutions together. And Rogers proves very skilled
at taking that set of people and orienting their ideas
toward his proposal. -They knew it was
going to be in Boston, and the land in Back Bay
was the place to put it. So they were going to have
to convince the Massachusetts state legislature
that not only was the school worth establishing,
but that it was worth designating a piece of land for. -The proposal was brought to
the state of Massachusetts.

And the first step is to
essentially incorporate it as a state corporation. And that's what we celebrate on
the founding day of April 10, 1861, when the governor
finally signs the MIT charter. -Just two days after MIT's
founding on April 10 in 1861, the first shots are fired on
Fort Sumter in South Carolina. And with the start
of the Civil War, it meant that classes at MIT
could not start right away. This proved fortuitous
for MIT, because it allowed them the opportunity
to raise additional funds– to acquire the land, to start
construction, to hire faculty. -One can imagine that when
Rogers tried to raise money– it's wartime, and energies are
being devoted to other things. Yet on the other
hand, if we have optimism about the
outcome of the war, we can see the necessity
for young men and women to become engineers
and scientists, to be able to solve
these other problems. -When the Morrill Act is
passed in Washington in 1862, it grants every state
some land that then they can either use or sell to found
an agricultural or mechanical institution. -Rogers and his
colleagues won support from the state
legislature that a portion of the funds from
the Land Grant Act would be dedicated
to this new school, assuming that they could raise
the other funds successfully.

And then they had to go
out, house by house, factory to factory, and convince
people one at a time to donate funds to
support this enterprise. -As the war is ending in 1865,
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology holds
its first classes in rented space in downtown
Boston's Mercantile Building while constructing its own
buildings near Copley Square. Rogers' vision for a
new kind of education, with its emphasis on
hands on learning, made it crucial to establish
cutting edge laboratories. -Rogers had a very
strong reaction against what he
considered rote learning. And so from the beginning,
MIT was a great innovator in getting laboratory
work right down to the earliest levels
of the curriculum.

Entry undergraduate
students would be entitled to do a lot of
work in the laboratories with their own hands, not
just seeing someone else demonstrate some effect. -Rogers needed
faculty who were going to be willing to invent
a new kind of curriculum. That they were going to
have to cobble together for the first time ever
laboratory exercises. -He allowed his professors to
basically experiment with it, tinker with it, adjust
it, and build the program. I think of Pickering in
physics, for example. Professor Storer, who was one
of the early chemists at MIT. And both of them
become very famous. And they're producing
textbooks to accompany the lab oriented
educational process.

-You look at the
curriculum offered in that very first set of
classes at MIT in 1865– it looks a lot like what we
call the GIRs today, the General Institute Requirements, that
still every freshman has to take. Mathematics,
chemistry, physics– those are all required
at MIT from day one. -There was an emphasis on
combining basic science with applied things
in the field. Students took field trips to
all kinds of working places, where the technological
world was being built. And Barton Rogers
wanted all that right in the curriculum for
his undergraduates, right from the start. -As a young startup,
MIT had its share of hurdles– ongoing money
troubles, takeover attempts by neighboring Harvard. But with every passing year,
with every successful student who went on to make his
or her mark in the world, MIT's reputation grew,
and the school's standing became more and more secure.

By 1894, President
Francis Amasa Walker was able to declare
in his annual report that the battle of
the new education is won, proclaiming that
the influence of MIT and its innovative ways are
now recognized far and wide. -In the early years, the
MIT way of doing business, with a great deal of emphasis
on hands on and doing things in reality, contrasted
very substantially with the more classically
oriented education. But today, even for
those institutions which are more classically
oriented liberal arts, they have moved,
actually, towards MIT. -By the time operations
moved across the Charles to the brand new
Cambridge campus in 1916, MIT's ongoing future
seemed assured. Over the decades, the roadmap
Rogers laid out for his school has proved flexible
enough to stay true to his founding
ideals while incorporating new fields as they emerge. -There have been a
lot of continuities in the history of
MIT, especially around the type of
curriculum that students are required to follow. There's surely a greater
range choice today, but the emphasis on combining
science with practice is still an important
dimension of what is happening around
the Institute today.

-That idea of mind and
hands– mens et manus– that goes right back to
the beginnings of MIT. And it's coincident
with the idea that learning takes place by
doing, as well just by seeing. -MIT today shows
remarkable commitment to the original vision
articulated by William Barton Rogers of a place that solves
great problems, that educates students who have
the capacity to be independent in their thinking. Those commitments are timeless,
and stretch across 150 years. [MUSIC PLAYING] [END VIDEO PLAYBACK] AUDIENCE: Is this part
of a bigger series, or is this just one? PROFESSOR: So as I
mentioned, there's five or six of these coming out. But it's not like the class. They're not going
chronologically. One is on entrepreneurship. One is on the student body. They'll each have a
little history in them, but it's not a
consecutive series. When they first
wanted to do this, they said, well, we'll
do one from 1861 to 1916.

And we really pushed
them to go back into that earlier period, and
the background of the founding, and spend more time on that. Because the context, which
we'll read about next week, is so interesting and important. AUDIENCE: I feel like there were
three people who kept talking, and two of them were you two. Who was the third one? PROFESSOR: The third one– the
woman was Debbie Douglas, who is the curator at
the museum, who we'll meet when
we go over there. And we'll also read a chapter
of hers, I think, in the book.

AUDIENCE: How recently
did this come out? PROFESSOR: Two months ago. It was just released. It was released on
the day that 150th opened, which was January 7. So it's brand new, basically. Yeah, Michelle? AUDIENCE: Who produced it? PROFESSOR: Who produced it? Larry Gallagher, who
heads AV, produced it. And then it was directed
by a woman named– PROFESSOR: Maggie Villiger. PROFESSOR: Maggie Villiger. Actually, one of the interesting
things that we're doing is for each of five
of these videos, they're directed by
a different person. So it's not going to be a
consistent style across them.

They're all going to have a
slightly different style, which should make it kind
of interesting. AUDIENCE: At the beginning,
I saw a lot of pictures with women in, for
instance, classrooms. Is that– PROFESSOR: Good question. That's a good question. MIT actually admitted women as
special students quite early. Ellen Swallow Richards, who
was the first actual graduate, also graduated quite early. I think 1878 was the
year she graduated. PROFESSOR: Somewhere
around there. Somewhere in there. PROFESSOR: My alma
mater, which is Yale– they started
admitting students in 1969. But MIT was way
ahead of that curve.

Now, actually, it's
a good question to ask Karen about when she
comes here in a little while. Because she was a student here
in the early '70s, I think. And it was very different
from what it is today. It's not like there were–
and I think even– I got here in 1991, and I believe at
the undergraduate level, it was still only
about 30% women. And now it's more like
50% or 55% women, I think. So it's come up a lot
even in that period. So there have always
been women here, but the proportions
that you know of today are fairly recent. But again, if you look at
the Ivy League schools, they were in the
Stone Age compared to MIT with how they
handled and treated women. AUDIENCE: So you
guys in that video are saying that MIT sort of
grew out of and contributed to the Boston area at
the beginning, mostly. When did it sort of hit
international and national prominence and become like a
huge international technology institution? PROFESSOR: That's a really
good question, actually, and one of the
things we'll look at again and again all semester.

I think as the
video talks about, New England was really
attractive to William Barton Rogers. There's every reason that
we could be celebrating the Virginia Institute of
Technology's 150th anniversary, but we're not. He felt Virginia was
not the place for this. That New England,
for reasons that Roe will talk about next week,
was much more suited to it. I would guess that already
by the late 19th century, a lot of the MIT graduates
are going out west, and doing the surveys and engineering
on the railroads and dams and water supplies.

Fremont, one of the great
surveyor engineers of the west, was an MIT graduate. He was maybe even a faculty
member here, wasn't he? PROFESSOR: John Fremont? PROFESSOR: John Fremont. PROFESSOR: No, I don't think so. But I'm trying to remember who–
there is someone in that guise, but it's not Fremont. I think, with reference
to your question about when does MIT
start to achieve an international reputation,
probably the real reputation comes during and
after World War II. I mean, that's
when MIT is really recognized as being a big
time place internationally. There were surely
hints of recognition in the late 19th
century, the 1890s. When Francis Amasa Walker, after
whom the Walker building is named, makes his
annual report– I think it's in 1894 or
thereabouts– in which he says the battle of the
new education is won, clearly he was making
a reference to the fact that MIT was being recognized
not only by American higher educational institutions,
but by that time, there were foreign
students beginning to come.

It's very small
numbers, but still. So it's increasing,
but it really doesn't hit the big
center spot until– I was going to say centerfold. That's not quite the right word. [LAUGHTER] PROFESSOR: But
until, I would say, World War II,
after World War II. So much was happening here,
and it really became famous. PROFESSOR: If you look in the
sciences, well into the 1930s, if you're a bright
young physicist, you're basically sent to
Germany to get your PhD. And that changes,
obviously, during the course of the second World
War, not least because the Germans kicked out
a lot of the good physicists and they all came here. And also in 1940, when Vannevar
Bush goes to Washington– we'll talk about
this– and really founds the whole wartime
research establishment, which includes the Manhattan Project,
includes the radiation lab, includes the whole modern way
that the federal government supports research, that's
when you see MIT people really literally at the right
hand of the president.

I don't know that there
would be any senior MIT person in a national political
role before about then. We'll see over the course of the
term, but I don't think of one. Whereas after that, the first
presidential science adviser ever appointed is James
Killian, president of MIT. The second one,
under John F Kennedy, is Jerry Wiesner, who later
becomes president of MIT. On and on and on. And for the period
of the '50s and '60s, the place really acquires
that national– but also during the '50s, MIT faculty,
much like they're doing today, are off abroad founding
engineering schools in the MIT model
all over the world. I once went to a conference
where I was seated at dinner– it was an oil
industry conference– the guy I was next to was
the associate oil minister for Iran, which is not the sort
of person that Americans meet very often at conferences,
because there aren't too many conferences where– PROFESSOR: –you
have the Iranians. PROFESSOR: And I was
sort of like, gee, what is this going
to conversation.

And he said, oh, MIT. My technical institute
in Tehran that I went to was founded by MIT
faculty on the MIT model. He had an enormous
respect for what MIT represented in that country. And that's true in a lot of
places in the Middle East, a lot of so-called developing
nations during that period. The Indian Institutes
of Technology– it's not a coincidence,
IIT is what they're called. There are many of them. And so that's one of the ways. And it's of course
happening today in Singapore and other places in
Asia, particularly, that new institutes
are being founded with MIT's influence there. AUDIENCE: So did we do Caltech? PROFESSOR: Well,
Caltech– anybody know what it was called
before it was the California Institute of
Technology, which has some resonance to the
name of this institution? It was called Throop College.

pexels photo

And in the '20s or
in the '30s– I'm forgetting exactly when–
they changed the name to it California Institute
of Technology. For many years, just the
word "tech" meant MIT. And then gradually, all
these other institutes formed, where they became
Georgia Tech or Caltech or other places like that. And then the word, the
"tech" term, became generic. Most of you probably
don't refer to this place as "Tech," do you? When you're home
on break, you say, I've got to go back
to Tech for this.

But for many years, that's
what people referred to it. Or they referred to
it as "Technology" in the 19th century. So yes, Caltech and
Stanford, very much so. The father of Silicon
Valley was a guy named Frederick Terman, who got
his PhD here in Vannevar Bush's lab in the late '20s and early
'30s, and then moved out west.

And Stanford, again,
had been founded– he didn't found
Stanford– but he really built up the model
of a university as the center of a kind
of industrial region, with Hewlett and
Packard and many of those other
early entrepreneurs. And so there's a lot of that
kind of influence there. You'll see this a lot in the
reading in the next couple weeks– useful arts.

That's a phrase that
Leo talked about that comes up all the time. It's in the MIT
charter, I believe. And a useful way to think of
that is not art as in fine art, like you'd go to the Museum
of Fine Arts to see today, but art as in
artisanal, artisans– you know, a brick layer,
a tile layer, a carpenter. Those were sort of more
what people referred to when they used the term
the "useful arts" then.

The steam engine and the
locomotive is a machine. But a locomotive is
only a very small part of what it takes
to make a railroad. There's all this
civil engineering that goes involved in
laying the tracks, and maybe some surveying, and thinking
about it as a system. And then railroads
and telegraphs came up really
very much together. All the early telegraphs went
along the railroad routes in this country. And so you almost can't even
think about the railroad without thinking
about a telegraph. There was even a
book out recently called The Victorian Internet,
a kind of early information network that ran around. There's a famous
book by a guy named Alfred Chandler at
Harvard Business School. He talks about– modern
management arose as actually between the Worcester
to Albany railroad.

It was one of the first
long railroads in the world, in Western Massachusetts
and New York state. When that railroad was built,
it was longer than 60 miles. And they started running
into each other, the trains. And he said when you started
building railroads that were bigger than 60 miles,
all of a sudden– hi, Karen. This is our speaker
for our next hour. But we're talking a little bit
about the idea of technology. When the railroad became
longer than 60 miles, it needed a whole
new organization just to coordinate who was
on the tracks when and keep the trains from
running into each other.

And that's exactly the
same kind of period about which Leo Marx
is talking about, where suddenly you have
these people called managers. There's nobody in the
world called a "manager" before about 1840. And even then, they
rise only gradually over the course of
the 19th century. You have these people
called "managers." You have this
whole organization. Yes, you have machines. But a machine is not a
great way to describe it. And sure enough, right
about then, if you look, you have this word–
it's not actually coined in 1829 by Jacob
Bigelow, but it is sort of brought into a modern usage–
this word "technology." And Leo really writes
about why was it at this point in history you
needed a new word for this, and what did this new
word come to stand for. And even after 1829, the
word wasn't used very much until the T in MIT. It was really one of the first
significant uses of the word. And even then, you wouldn't
see people using the word technology like
they use it today until after World
War II, really.

So you'd see a student
today in a lab might say, I made a new technology
for handling micropayments on the internet, or
something like that. You'd never see that in 1940. They would say, I
built an apparatus. They used that
phrase a lot, even though they were working at MIT. Technology is an abstraction. [INAUDIBLE] sort of [INAUDIBLE]
these different things. And then when people
start using it as a noun that actually has active agency
in the world, what is that? It's a very strange way to talk. And we won't talk about
it this way in the class. Technology doesn't force
people to do things. People build technologies. People like you
build technologies. People do things with machines. People are influenced by
certain kinds of forces. But technology itself is
this sort of invisible thing that exists out
there, that doesn't think, it doesn't have a mind,
it doesn't have an address, doesn't pay taxes.

It doesn't order anybody around. Now, interestingly,
in his conception when he wrote this
paper, he had this idea that technology conjures up an
idea of white men in lab coats sort of sitting at lab benches. More and more, personal
technologies– PCs and cellphones and things–
if you look in the technology section of either the
bookstore or the newspaper, they don't even talk about
airplanes and railroads and ships and submarines. They talk about basically
personal information technology almost exclusively.

So that word has come. And if you talk about
the tech sector, they almost always
mean the companies in Silicon Valley
and a few companies around here who do
this kind of stuff. I once had an experience–
it was about 10 years ago already– where Microsoft
gave a whole bunch of money to MIT– I think
they still do it, it was what became what
is now called iCampus– to do research projects in
technology and education. And the guy from
Microsoft came and said, OK, we'll give
$25 million to MIT for experiments in
technology in education, technology in education,
technology in education– he kept repeating that phrase. I said, oh, that's interesting. And I raised my hand and I said,
what do you mean by technology? Do you mean like helicopters
and submarines and ships? And the guy said, oh, no,
no, I should clarify that. What we mean is
personal computers running Microsoft software. Oh, OK. As long as we're
clear on what we mean by technology in education. That's helpful. That was sort of
an extreme case, but you see that around a lot.

But even then, it's
still worth– I happen to be reading
a book by my colleague Sherry Turkle, which
you may have seen. It's been in the news a lot. She was on Stephen
Colbert a couple weeks ago talking about cellphone
use, and particularly teenagers and technology. It says, "Why do we expect
more from technology and less from each other?" She's a close colleague of mine
and of Leo Marx's, but she's constantly using the word
technology makes us do this, technology makes us do
that, when actually, it's how we relate
to our machines in a slightly different way.

So we sort of start out
the class with this piece. And if you haven't finished it,
please do read the rest of it between now and
next week, to give a little bit of
historical perspective on what is the thing. We're at this Institute
of Technology– what do we really mean by that? And the word can become so big
that it can kind of encompass anything and everything. You can ask the
same, by the way, about the word engineering. How many people are
here engineering majors of one kind or another? So almost everybody. Science majors? Any? One, two? And actually, the
profession of engineering has almost the exact same kind
of chronology as both the word technology and the
history of MIT. Does anybody know what
the first engineering school in the United States was? AUDIENCE: West Point. PROFESSOR: Yeah, West Point. 1804. It was not MIT. Second one was Rensselaer
Polytechnic, RPI. And MIT was pretty much the
third one, but almost 50 years later– almost 60 years
later from West Point. So engineering as
we know it today has its origins in what today
we call civil engineering, but actually was really
called military engineering.

And all engineering
was basically– up until the beginning
of the 19th century, all engineering was
civil engineering, which meant roads,
bridges, fortifications, a little bit of artillery work. And it's only in the course
of the mid 19th century that you get– in fact, the
profession, the discipline of mechanical engineering, is a
post Civil War thing, organized around steam engines
and steam engineering. In fact, the MIT department
of mechanical engineering, as like many other departments
of mechanical engineering, is formed by Navy
steam engineers who come out of
the Civil War Navy. Electrical engineering
is even later. And all the other
kinds of engineering are even later after that. So you're all familiar with
the course number story at MIT, right? That the course
numbers are basically the chronology on
which they were added. So course one is what? AUDIENCE: Civil. PROFESSOR: Civil. The environmental
is added later. Actually pretty
recently, I think within the last 10 or 15 years. Course two, Mechanical
Engineering, comes next.

Course three, Material
Science, anybody know when the phrase
"material science" comes from? That's a 1960s,
'70s, '80s phrase. What was it before that? AUDIENCE: Didn't it
used to be mining? PROFESSOR: Mining
and Metallurgy. So that's a much
more traditional way of thinking about that kind
of engineering, very, very old way of kind of engineering,
straight of alchemy, really. What's four? AUDIENCE: Architecture. PROFESSOR: Architecture,
also very early. Five is Chemistry,
also very early. Electrical Engineering, getting
to be a little bit later. That's an effect of the 1880s. And then, on up from there. AUDIENCE: Did course six used
to be something different? PROFESSOR: I think
course six was always Electrical Engineering. I'm not exactly sure when the
department itself was founded.

It was probably around
the turn of the century. But certainly, mechanical
engineering is much older. And mechanical engineering
exists more or less prior to the science that supports it. In fact, most of the fundamental
science in thermodynamics is done because of problems
raised by steam engines. So it's not like the physicists
worked out the thermo and then they built
the steam engines. It's exactly the
other way around. Engineers built steam engines. And then, that raised
problems of thermo that people needed to solve. Whereas, electrical
engineering is much more– you almost can't have
it without the physics. And it's much more
intimately tied with science, from its very foundings. So it's quite, in a way,
a much more different kind of engineering. Then you have AeroAstro as
Course 16, much later on. AUDIENCE: How can
Electrical Engineering come before Biology? PROFESSOR: Sorry? AUDIENCE: Or Physics? AUDIENCE: Yeah, why would
Electrical Engineering come before Biology? PROFESSOR: That's
a good question. And I think, A,
there were things that were taught at MIT
that weren't necessarily departments, so
various things at work.

And we'll see, as we look
in the next few weeks, the early MIT is
a teaching school. It doesn't really become
a research institution until rather later,
in a fundamental way. And so biology was
the sort of thing– and we'll see this– that
they did at Harvard because it had very little practical
application, compared to other things. And Louis Agassiz, who was
the great Harvard biologist, got into a very public a war
with Charles Elliott, who was the president of MIT,
over the issue of evolution. And Physics– you would think–
would be an earlier department. And I'm not exactly
sure why that one was founded a little bit later. That's a good question. Yeah. AUDIENCE: What about those
that do not have numbers? PROFESSOR: Those are
mostly added later.

Like my course, STS,
comes from the '70s. And I think also, in
general, you probably can find that
around the 15s, 16s, the numbering system
starts to break down. And it doesn't follow as
much of a rational pattern. Like, Course 21 is Humanities. Humanities have been around
for a long time at MIT. But they weren't incorporated
into a particular course, until after World War II. And again, then, some
of the earlier ones, like Mining and
Metallurgy, is transformed into Material Science and stuff. So past the first
15 or so, I think the chronology is a
little more complicated. AUDIENCE: Isn't course
nine fairly new, Brain and Cognitive Science? PROFESSOR: It is, but it
was Psychology before. So psychology has a
kind of older pedigree.

And then, there were other
courses that were cancelled, like Applied Biology, famously
so, not that long ago. Another interesting way
to look at the history. So now, I would
like to introduce my friend and colleague,
Karen Arenson. And maybe, as I do, I'll call
up the page of the oral history. So people get a sense for what
the actual accomplishment looks like. And as I did mention
before, Karen is a former member of the
MIT Corporation, an alum, from I'm not quite
sure which year. KAREN ARENSON: '70. PROFESSOR: '70. So she has a lot of interesting
perspective on women at MIT, which we talked about
a little bit before, as well as a former
higher education journalist for The
New York Times.

So she's seen what MIT looks
like in the context of a larger picture, as well as a member
the Council of the Arts, here at MIT. And in all of those
sort of capacities, we did this oral
history project. And she conducted not
all but a large fraction of these oral histories. So she's, at the
moment, probably heard more about the last
40 years of MIT's history than almost anybody
and maybe will incorporate all those things
in what she has to say. But while she's
starting to talk, let me call up the
oral history page because it's worth
having a look.

And it's this
incredibly rich thing. KAREN ARENSON: Have any of
you looked at the oral history thing? I've just begun to. Hi, I was in your seat, not
in this room, many years ago. And when I was walking here
and passed near 26-100, I thought, 801, 802. They existed back
when I was a student. I've been asked to talk
today a little about who I am and where I came from, a little
about the Oral History Project, specifically, and then a little
about what I learned from it. And that's been the
challenging part. I fell in love with MIT when I
first visited it as an admitted freshman, back in
1966 and discovered that other people
talked my language. They thought quantitatively
and analytically. And they liked to
solve problems.

And I think that's
still true today. And although many of
them were brilliant, they also turned out to be
nice people and friendly and unpretentious–
I think a distinction from another place in
Cambridge– and helpful. And I've never fallen out
of love with the Institute. And the Oral History
Project gave me a chance to explore areas
that I was familiar with, like economics and the
Alumni Association, and also areas that I knew
nothing about, like STS, which didn't exist when I was
here; Biotechnology, which didn't exist anywhere;
Engineering Systems.

I applied to MIT
because I liked math. And I wanted to focus
on social problems. I didn't come here thinking
I would major in math. I thought Economics. And this place had the best
Economics Department then. It still does. And I majored in Economics
and in student government and in the newspaper. And lived at The
Tech an awful lot. I was one of 50 women
in a class to 900. They had built McCormick
Hall a few years before. And all of a sudden, the
numbers shot up to 50 per class, that had been
less than 20 before that. And by the time I graduated,
after all the Vietnam turmoil and society turning
inside out, they decided to make the
other dorms co-ed.

And all of a sudden, there
was more room for women. The number of women shot
up, gradually, into the 30%. You're about mid
40s now, in terms of undergraduate population. I went from the
Economics Department here to the Public
Policy School at Harvard and did a master's degree. And the one thing I
learned was that I didn't want to
sit behind a desk, and maybe I should
be a journalist. I had lived at The
Tech all those years and at my student newspaper
in the high school. And it took me about
a year to land a job. But I landed it
at Business Week. I was lucky. I spent five years
there and then moved to The New York Times. Business journalism was
becoming more important. I love numbers. And it was a wonderful
career for me. Along the way, I remained
involved with MIT because I like the people. And as Professor
Mindell said, I served on the corporation and
the executive committee and discovered that
businessmen, who made up most of the corporation,
are actually pretty interesting people. And they had other lives.

And they weren't the kind of bad
people we thought in the 1960s, when all business was bad. And nobody wanted to
go to business school. Because of my involvement with
MIT, The Times, at some point, they asked me to start writing
about higher education. That was an interesting topic. The only trouble was I had
to cut my ties with MIT. Because it would
have been perceived as a conflict of
interest or might have been a conflict
of interest.

And so I had a period of about
13 years, when I pulled back. And I took a buy-out
from The Times in 2008 and began to reengage. And one day, I got a phone
call from out of the blue, from a guy named Paul Gray. Maybe some of you
have encountered him, a former president of MIT. And he asked if I would
conduct some interviews for this project they
had, oral history. And I didn't know
what oral history was. But it sounded interesting. And I'm not good at saying "no." And I said, sure. I hung up. And I started googling. And I discovered that
Columbia University was the center of oral history.

They had this big
archive of world figures. A history professor
in the 1940s had started to do this thing
that hadn't existed before. So I visited Colombia
and talked with them and discovered that
what we were doing wasn't really oral
history, which tends to be much
more open ended. These things go one
for 40, 50, 100 hours. It's sort of sit back
and dump everything, in a very relaxed fashion. The MIT ones were
about two hours each, tied to the sesquicentennial. There had been a
planning committee that started about five
years ago, to say, 150th anniversary is coming up. What should we do? And one of the things
they came up with was to gather some
interviews with people who had been important in the
development of the Institute, over the last 50 years. And they put together a
list of about 75 people and had hired a guy named
John Hockenberry, who has been on ABC, I think,
and National Public Radio. But he was a visiting
professor in the Media Lab.

And he was the main person who
was going to do the interviews. They had a couple of
other people helping him. And at some point,
he got a new program. And he said, so
long, can't do both. And that's when I
got the phone call. So I came in part way through. He had already done a handful
of interviews, probably six or eight or 10, including
the former presidents who were still living. They had laid out a sort
of rough template of seven broad topic areas. They wanted to make
sure we asked people where they were born
and how they grew up; how they got to MIT, whether it
was as a student or a faculty member; whatever their
impressions of MIT; their role in the world of
MIT; how it had changed; and how it had
affected their lives.

So if you sign on
to these things. And there are, I
think, about 102. I did 40 of them, over about
2 and 1/2 years, including your professor and
your other professor. He isn't here today. PROFESSOR: He had
to run out for– KAREN ARENSON: OK. Anyway, I did both of them. Unfortunately, my
thesis adviser, Bob Solow, one of the
Nobel Prize winners, subsequently had
already been done. Samuelson had been done. I did Jim Poterba,
Lester Thurow. It was a sort of hit or miss. It depended on their
scheduling and mine. So I got to do some people I
knew and got thrown into some. I said, I don't know
anything about that. So I learned. And that actually
was the fun of it. As a journalist, I was very
used to interviewing people. I've been doing it
professionally for 35 years. But it was very different. I never had to do it
in front of a camera. And these interviews
were videotaped. I never had to worry about
a beginning, a middle, and an end. I could sort of start
somewhere and sort of go and come back to
it, say thank you. And if I forgot
something, I call up again or email and say,
oops, what about this.

These were two-hour
sound bytes that were pretty much as
they were recorded. They weren't edited. Except for maybe, they took
out some "ums" and "you knows." But other than that, they're
pretty much as recorded. I was pretty compulsive
about preparing for them. I tried to learn
as much as possible about the people I was
going to interview. And I usually drew up about
12 to 14 pages of questions. Because I didn't want to
get to an hour and a half and have half an hour to fill
and think, oh, my goodness.

What am I going to ask? It's not that I've ever had a
problem thinking of questions. But when you're on camera,
you can't just sort of sit there and think, hm. What do I do next? Some of the interviewees
answered questions at length, two, three,
five paragraphs. Sometimes, people answered
in two or three words. And the trouble
was I didn't know which it was going to be
because I didn't know them.

When I prepared to
interview Noam Chomsky, the famous linguist and the
highly-visible political activist, there
was more material than you could
absorb in a lifetime. He'd written so many books. There were several
biographies about him, including his life at MIT
and what he thought about it. I think he's the most
interviewed man on earth, literally. I mean, there are days
when he'll schedule three or four interviews, five,
six, seven days a week.

If you google Noam
Chomsky, there's a whole website where lots
of them are available. So if you're into that,
he's a fascinating man. But there was a lot more
than I could digest. I dipped into some of it. I ordered some of his books. I had some of them on my shelf. I read about him. But there was no way I was
going to understand it all. And then, at the other
end of the spectrum, there were people where you
could find almost nothing, like your provost Rafael Reif. I had a short biographical
sketch of him. I had a news release,
announcing that he was going to be provost.

And then, there was this blank. Where did he come from? What did he do? It turned out, he was a
pretty interesting fellow, whose parents had
fled Nazi Europe and moved around Latin America. He grew up in Venezuela. He was a chess expert,
all this stuff. But you couldn't
find it anywhere. So I began to learn
about it by calling some of the people he worked
with, and little by little. I could've gone
into the interviews without knowing all this
and just sort of said, so tell me where you were
born and where you grew up and what you liked
to do as a kid. And did you tinker? But I liked to know
as much as I could.

Because maybe he
wouldn't think something was interesting or
important that I would. And if I knew about it, I
could say, but what about this. So I did as much learning as
possible before each interview. And then, the two
biggest challenges were to figure out
what was important and how to pace the interview. There were all these topics
I was supposed to cover. And you didn't know
if they were going to talk fast or talk slowly. At the end of 40 interviews,
I still couldn't tell you how. I used to sit there very tense. The first hour
was OK because you figured whatever we covered. But then, it began to
be, do I have enough. Are we going to
have way too much? And how do I get everything in? So that's the process. What did I learn? I didn't have any
of these interviews to look at until
January 7, when they all went up on the website. And then, I said, I have to
do this panel on February 15.

And it would be
really helpful if I could look at the interviews
and have the transcripts. Because the videos are
interesting, but it's hard. It's slow. They take two hours. If you read them, it's faster. And if you go to the
little unlock feature, it turns out you can
disengage from the voice. And you can even turn it off,
by just lowering your voice. It's a little hard to read down. I called the people who
are running them and said, can people download the
voice and listen on an iPod, while they're on treadmill? And they said,
hm, good idea, no. This is MIT. So anyway, I've begun
to go through them. They all meld together,
in a funny way. They were all my favorite
because pretty much all of them were fascinating
in different ways. So lessons I learned,
and I'm going to tell you some stories
and maybe too many.

Probably the most
important lesson was that MIT is
indeed filled with amazing, brilliant,
creative people. For me, it was a dream
to be able to talk with so many of them. But it's actually
important because MIT is a special and
important institution. Because somehow, it manages
to attract them and hold them. It includes the students. Faculty say over and over
again that they stay here because they get
students like you, who are just really bright and
really interested and really driven. But the staff, the
alumni, the trustees. And when you begin to
put people like this in some kind of environment,
innovation happens. And that's what
MIT is known for. And it's not a coincidence. And you need an
environment where they can mix with
each other and create. And many of the interviewees
talk about that, during their two hours. One example is Bob Langer,
the chemical engineer and biotechnologist. When they called me and said,
he's this biotechnologist. I said, ew. I don't know anything
about that subject.

But I fell in love with him. He's just amazing. He has more than 750 patents. He runs the biggest lab at MIT. And he's one of the guys who
said that what holds him here– and I'm sure he's had offers
from anywhere and everywhere. He said, "It's the best place. It has exceptional students,
exceptional colleagues. I feel I can have the
greatest impact because of all those people." Or Donald Sadoway, I
don't know if any of you took his 3.091, which satisfies
the chemistry requirement. He talked about arriving here
as a post-doc from Toronto. He said, "I remember
when I first arrived. And I walked up the stairs,
the steps from that crosswalk at 77, and looked up at those
pillars and thought, well, you've really done it. This is high stakes, no more
big fish in a small pond." He'd been up in Toronto. "This is the real deal." So here's this big
guy and telling us what went through his mind. "And the early days
were very heady.

I mean to be surrounded
with super bright people. I was postdocing with Julian. And the kinds of
people would come to visit him was just
a different world from the University of Toronto." So it's not only the people who
are here, but the people who came to see them, who
added to that whole, what makes MIT special. There were other common themes. Many of the people
at MIT started from really modest backgrounds. Many of them were
immigrants or children of immigrants, Joel Moses, the
former provost, Rafael Reif, the current provost, Claude
Canizares, the vice president for research and
associate provost. Many of them pointed
to serendipity, in the shaping of their
lives and their careers.

That's a wonderful word, one
that the sociologist, Merton, who's the father of the Merton
here, did a whole book about. I think he called
it Serendipity. It would be easy to think that
all these brilliant people knew what they wanted to do
from the age of three and that they followed a
smooth, predictable path. When you're trying to figure
out should I do this or that, you think everyone
else knows what they're doing except for me. It ain't so. If you watch these videos,
over and over again, people talk about well,
I was going along. And then this happened. And suddenly, I was going along. And this happened. It really is striking. Most of them said
they had no grand plan and that luck
played a large role.

One example was Bob
Horvitz, the MIT professor who won a Nobel Prize for
his research on worms. He was actually one of my
news editors at The Tech. He was two years ahead of me. He double majored in
Math and Economics. And he was ready to graduate
after three years anyway. But he got elected president
of the student government. So he stayed for another year. So he had to fill out a
fourth year of classes. He didn't know what to take. And one of his
fraternity brothers said, why don't you try a
biology class, course seven.

So he took a bio course. And he fell in love with it. And six weeks into
the term, he thought, this is what I want to do,
not math, not economics. I want to do biology. But he was kind of embarrassed. Here he was a senior. And he was taking
his first class. And he wanted to
go to grad school. So we went up to his professor. And he was sort of apologetic. And he said, I want to go to
grad school, but you know. And the professor, whose
name was Cy Leventhal, told him not to worry. He had been a physics major. And he had gone to
graduate school in physics and gotten his PhD in Physics. And here he was
teaching biology at MIT.

He said, so you're
starting early. So it really isn't
too late to figure out what you like to do and try
things and keep exploring. Woodie Flowers, the mechanical
engineering professor who started the big contest,
where you get a bag of stuff. And you have to build a
gadget that does something. And then, they have a
big contest at the end. And the different
little robotic machines compete with each other. That was Woodie Flowers. He didn't even plan
to go to college. I think he grew up in Alabama
or Arkansas, in a poor family. His family couldn't afford it. But his senior year in high
school, one of his teachers noticed that his arm
wasn't set right. He had broken it when he fell
out of a tree in second grade.

And it had never
been fixed properly. And some teacher took
an interested in him and got it set right, I guess. They had to re-break
it or something. I don't know. But then, the orthopedic surgeon
looked at the elbow and said, you really need some rehab. You can't just walk out of here. And he wrote some kind
of letter to the state. And the state gave
Woodie Flowers what he called a rehabilitation
scholarship to college. And so we went to college. And at the end of college,
he was doing well. And his professor
said, you really ought to think
about grad school. And you really ought
to think about MIT. I mean, this isn't all Woodie
doing lots of homework. It's some chance
meeting with people who took an interest in him. Now undoubtedly, he worked hard. He was smart. He was creative. And so I don't think it's
a coincidence that people were taking an interest in him. But it wasn't his
planning out his life. Rafael Reif, the provost
I was telling you about, had several other older
brothers and one of them had come to study in the states.

This is way before the internet. How do you learn about
colleges in the states? You go to the American embassy. They have a bunch
of college catalogs. And the one thing
he knew was that he didn't think he wanted
to experience winter. Venezuela's not a
place of winters. So he looked at California
schools, ended up at Stanford, didn't know a lot of English
when he came, translated hard for lots of hours the first
two semesters, did pretty well. And he was going to go home
to Venezuela to be a teacher. Only, he had a
brother at MIT and he thought he'd come visit
him before he went back to Venezuela. And one of his former
colleagues said, I thought you were going home? And he said, yeah, but
I'm going to go visit MIT. And the guy said, there's
a spot open there.

So he said, well,
maybe I'll look at it. Of course, he got the
offer, told his wife, I think we're
going to stay here. Somebody told him you
put on lots of layers and you deal with
winter, so he's dealt with winter ever since. But again, sort of a chance
meeting with a former colleague who said, I know about a spot. But for that, he'd probably
be back in Venezuela teaching. He summed it up
by saying, "I had to change all the plans
at the last minute. It was just one of those
accidents of history that helped me a great deal." But you get this over and
over again in these videos.

And it's really
kind of stunning. Other lessons from
the interviews– I learned a lot
about MIT's history. You know, I'd heard of
William Barton Rogers, but it wasn't until I
started reading the Decisions book, which is
really a good read, and talked to Professor Smith,
for example, that I understood a lot more about MIT's
early years, the emphasis that William Barton Rogers put
on real scientific research, the people he drew
to support him, the efforts to merge Harvard
and MIT, several times. Luckily, it didn't happen. There was an interesting
chapter on MIT's Center for International Studies,
which had links to the CIA for a while.

The CIA essentially
got it off the ground. By the end of World
War II, MIT was used to collaborating
with the government. It had provided lots of
help on things like radar. And so, when the
CIA asked for help in learning more about
communications and propaganda– because it was
the Cold War, late '40s– MIT said, sure,
why worry about it? So two of the interviews
are with people who were involved with the
center– Donald Blackmer and Jean Shkolnikov. And they talk about the
center, and the protests against the center. There was a bombing in
the Herman building, and the eventual
break with the CIA. And they talk about
the development of political science at MIT. You were talking about how
different courses evolve, so course 14, 15, and 17 all
used to be glommed together– economics, political
science, and management. At some point they were
separated, economics and management, first,
political science later.

Probably would make a
good project for somebody to explore the different
courses and how they came along. Another historical chapter that
some interviewees talked about was the huge disruption
during Vietnam. The anti-war protests
that tore the campus apart in the late 1960s. So Noam Chomsky talked about
it from the perspective of an activist professor. Larry Bacow and I, I
got interviewed too, talked about it
from the perspective of the students who were there. Howard Johnson talks
about that period from the perspective
of a president. And then there was a guy
named Bill Pounds, who was dean of the Sloan
School at that point, who had followed Howard Johnson
as Dean of Sloan, who suddenly found himself appointed
by the president to head a committee to study the
role of MIT's two defense labs.

He said that Howard
Johnson went out of his way to ensure that the membership
of this committee, which was sort of meant to placate
everybody as much as to figure out what to do, that the
president had gone out of his way to make sure
there were radicals and conservatives, that the
whole spectrum was represented. He said it was kind of
like a Noah's Ark, two by two, a radical, a
conservative, a radical, a conservative.

And Bill stood up during
a raucous faculty meeting and announced that
the committee would start meeting the
following day– a Saturday. I think he'd been given
two or three days notice. And this wasn't an area
he knew anything about. They would meet every
day from 9:00 to 5:00 until they reached a conclusion. He said that one
step that cleared the way for the
commission to even begin to talk to each other was
to give them as much time as they needed at the front
end, just to go around the room and let everybody talk about
their views on war and peace, universities and truth,
and all the other kinds of profundities, as he put it.

And then they got down to
work, because they'd all sort of cleared their throats. He said it took about a
week or a week and a half. He also made observation about
being made dean of the Sloan School just a few years
after he'd arrived at MIT. And he said he hadn't
really understood the place. We all look up to deans as these
are all-knowing creatures who have put in lots of
time and get promoted. He said, here he was
dean, and he didn't really have much of a clue. And he said he thought
that becoming dean, quote, "might pull back
the curtain on MIT." Instead, he said, he
discovered that quote, "there was neither a curtain
nor anyone behind it." Kind of like the Wizard of Oz. He was an interesting
guy because he also headed the Rockefeller
Brothers office for a decade but was attached enough to MIT
so he commuted between Boston and New York the whole time,
running the Rockefeller's business and still
remaining here.

Anyway, he's very articulate. It's another fun one to look
at, even if you've never heard of him before today. Another theme that
came up repeatedly was MIT's unusual
openness and flexibility. It seemed to be better
than many universities at accepting people whose work
didn't fit into neat boxes. And it was better
than most universities and allowing people to
cut across boundaries. I think when you're here,
you take it for granted that it doesn't matter
what school you're in. On other campuses,
it matters a lot you never see the other people. Again and again,
these were cited as really important
factors in allowing people to do innovative work. And I'm sure MIT isn't
perfect on this score, but it does appear to
really be different from other institutions. Chomsky, for example,
recalled his early efforts to have his ground breaking
work in linguistics published, only to be told that
there was no such field. I mean, he was the father
of modern linguistics.

But MIT provided a
home from for him. His first teaching job was to
help graduate students cram for the language exams they
had to pass to get their PhDs. I don't know if PhDs
are still required to pass one or two languages,
but they were back in the '50s. He said, "in your
early 20s, you're thinking about
what you are doing. You don't really care
what the world thinks." Gradually, of course, his work
drew attention and respect and got published. Bob Langer, the biotech guy
I was talking to you about, had a similar story. He was a doctoral student
here in chemical engineering. And most of his classmates
went from chemical engineering to the petroleum industry. This is what you did. So he flew to Louisiana
to interview with Exxon. And the executives
there explained that if they could increase the
yield of some petrochemicals by one one hundredth
of a percent, they would make
billions of dollars.

On his flight home he
was thinking of that. And he realized he had no
interest in doing any of that. But what would he do? Well, he kind of
wanted to change the shape of chemical
engineering and chemistry. So he started applying
for jobs to look like they would do that. But they didn't want him. Exxon would have
taken him, but– so he kept looking and looking,
and eventually someone suggested that he go talk
to this cancer researcher at Harvard named Judah Folkman. Hiring a chemical
engineer in a cancer lab doesn't sound like
an obvious thing to do, especially back
when he was coming out. But Folkman was a
risk taker, and Langer made a stunning breakthrough
in finding a new approach to controlled drug delivery. That was his post-doc. He came back to MIT. He got hired, but his
path was still bumpy. He actually didn't get hired
into chemical engineering.

They didn't think he was doing
chemical engineering type work, like petrochemicals. He went into this applied
biology, course 20 at the time. And they didn't love him either. But somehow he kept on. He said, "the path I wanted
to follow didn't exist," but he was hired. And there was
enough room for him to run and to start
publishing and earn tenure.

And today he's one of the most
venerated figures in the field. You are another example
of crossing boundaries. I mean, I don't know if he's
told you about his background. He studied literature. He double majored in literature
and electrical engineering at Yale. That's a pretty unusual
set of double majors. And even after he
got here, he's been a bridge between the humanities
department and the engineering school. I think he's the only professor
with full appointments in both schools. So you'll have to get him
to talk during the semester about being this kind of bridge. But during the
interview, you said STS is not a discipline
for people trying to escape science
and engineering. It's really about
pulling them together. People talked about
their backgrounds. Lots of them were tinkerers. There are lots of good
stories about that. A lot of them did ham radio. Even the women who came– as
a young girl, Brit d'Arbeloff, who holds a master's degree in
mechanical engineering from MIT and is a life member
of the MIT Corporation, her late husband was chairman
of MIT's Corporation, founded a big company
called Teradyne.

But when she was a
little girl, her father was an engineer at this
appliance company in Chicago. And he brought home the
machines that he invented, things like the mix master. He worked on the hair
dryer and the toaster. So she used to play with them. She got out to Stanford. She said I was looking to get as
far from my parents as I could. And the engineering
professors there said, you don't want to
major in engineering. They didn't want a girl. But one of my favorite
tales that she told, she had to take welding,
and foundry, and machine shop– only girls at Stanford had
to wear dresses and skirts. There was a dress code. So she knew she didn't want
to do welding in a skirt. So she used to put on her
jeans, and roll them up, and put a trenchcoat over them,
so nobody could see, even if it was 90 degrees
out, and go to class.

They didn't give
her trouble there. Of course, she graduated
number one in her class. PROFESSOR: I walked by the
glass lab on Saturday afternoon and she was in there. KAREN ARENSON: She was there. She's now chair of the
Arts Council at MIT. Let me get one or two
others and then– there were some incredible personal
stories in these interviews. And I think the one that
move me the most was Wesley Harris, who's a
professor of Aero and Astro. He's now associate provost
for faculty equity, as in diversity.

He's the descendant of
slaves in the South. He grew up in segregated
Richmond, Virginia in the '50s. He was a good student. And in the '50s, the
University of Virginia simply didn't take blacks. They said go to one of the
historically black colleges. One exception was
engineering because there was no separate but equal. So his physics
teacher in high school said, you've got to go to
UVA and study engineering because they've got to
see that blacks can excel. So even though he wanted to
study physics, he went to UVA and studied engineering
to make the point. Some of this
professors, I don't know if they were the
ones he had teaching, but some of the professors there
threw cigarette butts at him. They spit on him. I mean, just an incredible tale. But he had mentors. And they helped him get through. They pushed him on to Princeton.

He had an offer to come to
MIT, but his good old physics teacher from high school said,
you've got to go back to UVA and make a point that you can
be a professor and do it well. So here he was, sort
of, pushing his life in directions he probably
didn't really want to take and suffering because–
to make a point. It's a kind of
civil rights battle. And he talks about this
during the interview. It made me go back
and look– there's a big told by a guy named
Clarence Williams who did a lot of interviews
with blacks at MIT.

I'd never read them before
I started reading them. It's amazing. Anyway, actually, the chairman
of the board, John Reed, who I also interviewed,
who was also the former chairman of
Citicorp, is an interesting set of personal tales. His parents were
American but his father was in the meat business. They lived in Latin America
most of his childhood. He grew up in Brazil
and Argentina.

His father had gone to MIT. But to ease the transition
back to the states, he enrolled in
MIT's 3-2 program, started at a small liberal arts
college and then came here. And he describes his years
at MIT as being invisible. He said I would go to classes
and go back to my apartment. This is the guy who later became
head of Citicorp, head of MIT. He loved physical
chemistry but was too awed by the formidable
professor to even talk to him.

He worked at Goodyear Tire for
a year on the assembly line. He had a rubber
workers union card. Amazing stories. When he was in the army,
he did something wrong and was assigned to clean
garbage pails for three days. He said, I assure you
that no one has ever washed them as well as I did. I was always enthusiastic
about whatever I was doing. It's a great skill. So these tales are buried
through these interviews. Anyway, I'd better wind down. There are more than
200 hours of video. They're fascinating
in different ways. They humanize this place in a
way it doesn't do for itself. I don't think there are
any plans to do a book or to keep going.

I think it would be a shame to
stop the chronicling process. But I know that we'll be doing
some of your own probing, maybe the oral histories
will help a little. I just came from a meeting of
the council of the arts, which is having its 40th
anniversary next year. I'm doing a one line
commercial, if I may. Part of that, we were
thinking about doing a history of the council
and the arts at MIT. There are lots of documents
there are living people. As you all go about
figuring out what you're going to delve into for your
projects later, if any of you like the arts, this
would be a fun topic. And we'd love to
have one or more of you do a history of
the council for the arts.

And we'd feature it next year. I don't know if there's any
time left for questions, but if there are. PROFESSOR: I want to take
a little time for questions but I also want to play this
little farm video they made. KAREN ARENSON: Oh,
that's a wonderful– PROFESSOR: I'll show you,
you can look yourself at the interface
because you can actually search through– you can do text
searches of all the interviews altogether. And you can search on a
particular keyword or topic. And then it'll also take
you right to that point in the video, of any video.

And the video guys just
searched on the word farm. And from that little search,
they made this a little video. KAREN ARENSON: The first
guy is Bill Pounds, who I was telling you about,
the former dean of the Sloan school and Rockefeller. They don't identify him. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] -I grew up in Pennsylvania. And I have the distinction of
having been born on a farm. -I grew up on a farm. -So I was born on a
farm, if you will. -I grew up in Montana. I'm a cowboy at heart. -Father was a farmer. -We were in Sunbury, PA,
which is a rural community, farming community.

-When my parents were
about 20 years old, they decided to
live a simpler life. And they basically moved
to rural West Virginia as a way of going
back to the land. -I rode and trained
horses as a child. -Well, I was brought up in
farm country of Pennsylvania. And I had my share of work
picking tomatoes and doing farm work. -So I grew up in
the bush, very much. I come from a fifth
generation Australian family and always very
much in the bush. -Between the time
I was 17 months old and five or six years
old, I spent on a farm. -So we went to Idaho when
I was nine years old. And we settled in a
little farming village. -We lived on a mini farm. -Well, I was born
on a cattle ranch, spent my youth on
a cattle ranch. -I think it had an
influence in the sense that farmers are entrepreneurs.

And they are their own boss. And so I think that's sort
of settled into my psyche. -Hard work. You learn how to
focus on a farm. -People in the cities
romanticize the bush in the same way that Americans
romanticize the west. It's not to be
romanticized, actually, it's a pretty tough
and rough place. -It is kind of
strange for someone to grow up in a house with
not a lot of technology to become a faculty
member at MIT. But I became an
engineer, in part, because I was good at math,
and I liked problem solving. But I think the childhood
has influenced me in terms of how I
bias technologies. That is, I give
value to technologies that are maybe simpler or local. And I think that does come out
of my research and my work.

[END VIDEO PLAYBACK] KAREN ARENSON: So, if you
go on the MIT 150 website, there's something called
Infinite History, which has the 100 oral histories. There's a separate
little category called Multimedia, which is
where this is tucked away, way at the bottom of
the right hand column. It's a bunch of videos that
include some oral history snippets, which this
was, and other stuff. PROFESSOR: If we have
the right interface, and I talked to the company to
do that, I would love to have, if you wanted,
for an assignment, to make little videos
like that snipping from these oral histories. But at the moment, we don't
quite have the interface to it. KAREN ARENSON: That
would be fabulous. PROFESSOR: But let's have
a few minutes for questions before we're all
done or comments.

KAREN ARENSON: Three hours. Yeah. AUDIENCE: You said you
did 40 of the interviews, and there are 100 or so. KAREN ARENSON: I did 40. AUDIENCE: So who
did the other 60? KAREN ARENSON: There were
actually four other people, a graduate of MIT, he had been
an undergraduate in engineering and STS, did the
first dozen or so as a kind of feasibility study. And then John
Hockenberry, the NPR guy, got pulled in to do the project. And he probably did 8 or 10
before he went out the door. He came back and
did one or two more. They had hired a local
journalist, Toby Smith, and she did, I think,
40, 45 of them. And them one of the guys in
the video lab, Larry Gallagher, did a handful. And the styles are different. Nobody was looking at them. My lead-ins are way too slow. I never saw one of them before.

I kept thinking, these are
going into the archive. I need an intro to say, why
are we talking to this person. So I have pretty
substantial intros, and I talk way too slowly. But I had no idea until January
7, which is a real shame. I'd love to rerecord them. But Hockenberry's are more
like radio interviews. Toby pretty much starts
with where were you born? How did you grow up? So anyway, there are
several different styles– probably good. Any other? AUDIENCE: You said you did
economics when you were here? So for people like
yourself, probably the majority of graduates,
who do something completely different than what
they studied, like, is there sort of a general
thing that you still retain from your
undergraduate education? I mean, obviously,
you don't really use economics day-to-day. What are the basic
things that people who go on to do different
things keep from MIT? KAREN ARENSON: You
mean just in general? AUDIENCE: Yeah, was it
a complete wast of time? KAREN ARENSON: Lots of people
go into law, medicine, business, a few people go into
journalism, not very many.

I did economics and finance
journalism for 35 years before I did higher ed, so I was
using my economics background. I actually went back
to school and took finance, and accounting,
and financial institutions because I realized there
was a certain amount I just didn't know. But I did use my
economics background. And as a journalist,
a lot of journalists come from being English majors.

Some of them are
journalism majors. There aren't very
many economics majors, but I was very analytical. So they all learned
how to write. I learned how to
look at numbers, and we sort of came
together in the middle. I had to learn how
to write on the job. Some of them learned
to use numbers. Some of them never did. When I was editing, I can
remember the first couple weeks I ran the Sunday business
section for the New York Times. And I got a big story in, and
one of the editors under me had worked it. And it came to me. And the story wasn't bad. And at the last minute,
the graphic arrived. And the story said this, and
the graphic looked like this. And I said, they don't agree. I killed it at that point. People, a lot of
journalists, at least back when I was starting
just were number-phobic. But I like to look at
stories as puzzles. In other words, how
did this happen? How did the pieces
come together? Kind of like an MIT
education trains you to look at the world.

And that's how I looked
at it, even higher ed. So it was fun. PROFESSOR: Let's leave
it at that for today. Please join me in
thanking Karen. KAREN ARENSON: Good luck. [APPLAUSE] KAREN ARENSON: Thank you.

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