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Andy Ryan

Andy Ryan

A brief history of the Media Lab

When the MIT Media Lab first opened its doors in 1985, it combined a vision of a digital future with a new style of creative invention. It brought together researchers from far-ranging fields who were passionate about creative expression and design, with pioneers in the emerging field of digital technology. In its first decade (1985–1995), the Lab developed and demonstrated a wide range of ideas for how emerging technologies might transform learning, entertainment, and self-expression. Many facets of the digital revolution can be traced back to ideas from the Media Lab.

The second decade (1995–2005) saw the addition and integration of pervasive, ubiquitous computing. Lab researchers pioneered fields such as wearable computing, sensor networks, tangible media, and affective computing—further enhancing our ability to express ourselves and interact in a more human way with our technology.

The third decade (2005–2015) layered in biological sciences and technologies. Lab researchers have been at the forefront of bringing the human-machine interface onto and into the body; innovating new materials and methods for fabrication; and exploring new tools and technologies for health and wellbeing.

As technology has advanced and become more ubiquitous, the Lab’s ethos and focus have shifted to become more concerned with the ethics, inclusivity, sustainability, and justice of technology’s impact on humanity and on the world. Now in its fourth decade, the Media Lab is focusing on solving for the unprecedented technological, social, and global challenges at the level of systems—designing for human networks; for cities; for the arts; for the brain and body. 

Historic faculty

From the founding faculty to the heads of research groups that have come and gone over the years, the Media Lab has been home to an extraordinary collection of researchers, teachers, designers, and pioneers. 


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