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project mac 50 years

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Project MAC

CSAIL has its roots in two MIT computing powerhouses: The Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) and the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (AI Lab).

LCS was founded in 1963 as Project MAC (Multiple Access Computing or Machine-Aided Cognition), a project sponsored by the Department of Defense to develop a computer system accessible to a large number of people. The result was Multics, an ambitious paradigm setting time-shared computer system , which strongly influenced the development of the Unix operating system and laid the foundation for many of today's basic design concepts for software systems.

The AI Lab was founded as the AI project in 1959. The Lab pioneered new methods for image-guided surgery and natural-language-based Web access, produced new generations of micro displays, made haptic interfaces a reality, and developed bacterial robots and behavior-based robots that are used for planetary exploration, military reconnaissance and in consumer devices.

As collaboration across the two labs increased, and with the construction of a major new building designed to house the information sciences at MIT, the two labs merged in 2003, to form the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. In 2014 CSAIL will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Project MAC and the 10th anniversary of CSAIL’s formation.

12 February, 2014