Harvard University

A mere six years after the Puritans settled in Boston, Harvard College opened its doors in 1636. John Harvard, a wealthy immigrant of scarcely one year, bequeathed property and his entire library, 260 volumes, to the new college.

Harvard became the center of early intellectual life in America with a focus on ideas which became innovations. About 1764 John Winthrop delivered experimental lectures on electricity and opened the colony's first experimental-physics laboratory. The presidency of Charles Eliot, from 1869 to1909, marked a turning point in the development of Harvard. Eliot revamped the schools of law and medicine and launched graduate schools of business, dental medicine, and arts and sciences, in addition to establishing Radcliffe College for, as Eliot said in his inaugural speech, "the world knows next to nothing about the natural mental capacities of the female sex."

Harvard's scientific research has yielded breakthroughs with major impacts on world societies. Harvard Medical School opened in 1782 and has contributed substantially to medical "firsts," including the first successful kidney transplant, the iron lung, and development of artificial skin. It was at Harvard that the first computer, the MARK I, was developed in 1944. Later Harvard offered the first degree program in computer science. In 2002, Harvard scientists developed a new technique for cataloging all foreign DNA in the human body. At Harvard's Center for Imaging and Mesoscale Structures, scientists and engineers are using lithography techniques to build electronic devices on the scale of a millionth of a meter.

Graduates stay to found businesses and add to the region's economic growth. Harvard graduate Tom Stemberg is the founder of Staples, Inc., which reached $10 billion in sales 15 years after its 1985 opening, and George Colony's Forrester Research is known worldwide for assessing the strategic needs of information technology. In 1998 Ling Chai founded Jenzabar, Inc., which provides software and intranet services to colleges and universities.

Seven U.S. presidents have studied here, and 39 members of the faculty have been awarded Nobel Prizes. After nearly 400 years, Harvard continues to attract innovators, whether they are drop-outs like Bill Gates or intellectual leaders like Skip Gates.


 Making Harvard Modern: The Rise of America's University
by Phillis and Morton Keller, 2001
 John Winthrop: America's Forgotten Founding Father
by Francis J. Bremer, 2003