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COMPUTING

Gates donates $20 million to MIT computer lab

April 14, 1999
Web posted at: 2:20 p.m. EDT (1820 GMT)

by Ted Smalley Bowen

From...
InfoWorld
Bill Gates

(IDG) -- The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT's) Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) Monday night kicked off its 35th anniversary celebration with word that its new home will bear the name of the industry's foremost magnate, Microsoft CEO William H. Gates III.

Gates and his wife, Melinda, have donated $20 million through the Gates Foundation to become naming benefactors of the new facility, which will house the computer science programs.

At the event, Gates lauded the LCS but noted that "despite its amazing work, computer science is still in its infancy," and expressed the expectation that the new MIT facility will launch many of the advances of the coming 35 years.

The storied LCS' reception here at the Museum of Science served as the venue for the unveiling of schematic renderings of the Gates Building, which is slated for completion in 2003, and the sealing of a time capsule of LCS achievements. The container will eventually reside in the new building's lobby, according to lab director Michael Dertouzos.

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The capsule, an over-sized, 150-pound lead sculpture of a paper bag, was designed by architect Frank Gehry. The LCS honor roll includes Daniel Bricklin and Robert Frankston, for their spreadsheet project in 1979, Tim Berners-Lee for his 1989 creation of the World Wide Web, Robert Metcalfe for his 1973 invention of Ethernet, Robert Scheifler and James Gettys for their development of the X-Windows system in 1983, and more than 50 others -- including Gates for his 1975 authoring of Altair Basic.

The capsule will be unsealed on the Lab's 70th anniversary, or sooner if a cryptographic puzzle created by MIT professor Ron Rivest is solved in the interim. The puzzle was created with the expectation that it would require roughly 35 years to solve, given the anticipated rate of technological progress, according to Dertouzos.

Meanwhile, MIT's LCS also Tuesday officially launched its five-year, $40 million Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-sponsored research effort, called Oxygen. Undertaken along with the MIT artificial intelligence lab, it spans hardware, software, and networking technologies. The project includes multipurpose portable computing devices, embedded systems, connective network technoloogy, and speech software, as well as search, automation, collaboration, and customization technologies, according to LCS officials.



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Massachusetts Institute of Technology
   • LCS Anniversary information site

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