Science and Technology

Collection

The MIT Museum Science and Technology Collection preserves objects documenting the intellectual, educational, and social-cultural-political history of MIT. MIT’s role in the history of modern science and technology is shown through tools from slide rules to stroboscopes, thermometers to telephones, and cathode-ray tubes to computers.

This collection is particularly strong in mid 20th-century electromechanical devices, scientific instruments, and other objects representing research in which the faculty, students, and staff of MIT and its affiliates have distinguished themselves. In addition to approximately 6,000 objects, the Science and Technology Collection includes documents, photographs, drawings, prints, films, videos, and audiotapes.

Collection Highlights

Professor Harold E. Edgerton Digital Collection

The Edgerton Digital Collections (EDC) project is an ambitious and collaborative publishing venture, documenting the history of science and technology. This project also celebrates the spirit of a great pioneer, Harold “Doc” Edgerton, inventor and professor emeritus at MIT. A digital archive provides the first online access to Edgerton’s research notebooks held by MIT, constituting the material record of an extraordinary man who shaped public perception about science and technology.

MIT Radiation Laboratory Negative Collection

This collection documents the history of the nation’s second largest R&D project during World War II and the early history of American radar technology.

Keuffel & Esser Company Slide Rule Collection

The MIT Museum is home to one of the largest publicly accessible collections of this vital and iconic scientific instrument.

MIT Aeronautical and Aerospace Collections

The largest university-based collections of aeronautical and aerospace objects include the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Collection documenting the pioneering work of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory in the field of inertial guidance and navigation.

MIT Robotics Collection

The world’s first artificial intelligence (AI) research group began at MIT in 1959. Today, the Computer Science and AI Lab, CSAIL, is the largest laboratory on campus. The MIT Robotics Collection contains archives and objects related to the development of robotics and the history of CSAIL.

Polaroid Historical Collection

Cameras, prototypes, photographs, notes, and more comprise the museum’s Polaroid collection, documenting the history of the Polaroid Corporation, started by Cambridge scientist and inventor Edwin Land in small brick buildings just around the corner from the MIT Museum.

Pictured: Spacewar!—Interactive Display Conceived in 1961 by Martin Graetz, Stephen Russell, and Wayne Wiitanen; realized on the PDP-1 in 1962 by Stephen Russell, Peter Samson, Daniel Edwards, and Martin Graetz, together with Alan Kotok, Steve Piner, and Robert A. Saunders; Spacewar! Java applet by Barry Silverman, Brian Silverman, and Vadim Gerasimov.