An RLE timeline


1945--At the August 14 V-J convocation of MIT's wartime Radiation Laboratory, Director Lee Dubridge officially announces the lab's closing slated for December 31.

1948--Doctoral student Thomas Cheatham Jr. builds the first electronic analog correlator (see photo on page 5), paving the way for Henry Singleton's digital correlator in 1949.

1950--J.C.R. Licklider joins RLE from Harvard's Psycho-acoustic Lab and stimulates communications biophysics research at RLE; Walter Rosenblith will follow in 1953.

1951--RLE research in continental air defense, associated with MIT's Project Charles, spawns Lincoln Laboratory (left).

1952--Jerrold Zacharias, James Yates, and R.D. Haun produce the first practical atomic clock, based on atomic beam frequency standards developed by Zacharias.

1955--Norbert Wiener (seated), John Barlow and Walter Rosenblith observe the auto-correlation function of brain waves, promoting the application of statistical communication techniques to communication biophysics.

1956--C.E. Shannon joins RLE's Processing and Transmission of Information group. RLE begins collaboration with the new Eaton-Peabody Laboratory at the Mass. Eye and Ear Infirmary.

1957--RLE moves into the Compton Laboratories (Building 26) with the Lab for Nuclear Science and MIT's Computation Center (see photo, page 5)

1958--John McCarthy develops the LISP programming language that can manipulate symbolic expressions as well as code and debug major subroutines.

1959--Jerome Lettvin and Walter Pitts (below) publish their landmark neurophysiological research in the paper What the Frog's Eye Tells the Frog's Brain.

1962--Project "Luna See," conducted by Louis Smullin and George Fiocco, demonstrates high-power optical maser technology by bouncing a laser beam off the moon's surface. It was the first time space had been spanned by laser light.

1967--RLE's first reading machine for the blind is the first affordable optical character reader (above, with Kenneth Ingham). With the PDP-1 computer, it comprised the first system that could scan text and read aloud.

1968--Thomas Huang uses an optical scanner to perform Fourier transform coding, and introduces the concept of coding in blocks smaller than the original image.

1969--Louis Braida and his collaborators begin a landmark series of articles in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America on auditory intensity perception.

1972--Bruno Coppi (below, with a steel plate from Alcator A) designs and constructs the first high-field toroidal plasma machine, the Alcator A tokamak.

1973--RLE moves into the new Sherman Fairchild Complex on Vassar Street (see photo on page 6).

1978--Henry Smith establishes RLE's Submicron Structures Laboratory, now the NanoStructures Laboratory. Among its results is a scanning electron micrograph (right) of an X-ray nanolithograph of polymethyl methacrylate.

1983--RLE's Advanced Television Research Program is established, with William Schreiber as director.

1986-87--RLE's Radio Astronomy group demonstrates the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite Very Long Baseline Interferometer (VLBI) and produces the world's first astronomical space-ground VLBI observations.

1995--Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC, below) is achieved by Wolfgang Ketterle. His work improves on the first achievement of BEC by RLE alumnus Eric Cornell at the University of Colorado earlier in the year.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 30, 1996.


Topics: Electrical engineering and electronics, History of MIT

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