Nicholas Negroponte

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Nicholas Negroponte (born December 1, 1943) is a Greek-American architect and computer scientist best known as the founder and Chairman Emeritus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab. He is the younger brother of John Negroponte, former United States Director of National Intelligence.

Negroponte, son of Dimitri John, a Greek shipping magnate, grew up in New York City's Upper East Side. He attended many schools, including Buckley (NYC), Le Rosey (Switzerland) and Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Connecticut where he graduated in 1961. Subsequently, he studied at MIT as both an undergraduate and graduate student in Architecture where his research focused on issues of computer-aided design. He earned a Master's degree in Architecture from MIT in 1966 and joined the faculty of MIT in 1966. For several years thereafter he divided his teaching time between MIT and several visiting professorships at Yale, Michigan, and the University of California, Berkeley.

In 1967, Negroponte founded MIT's Architecture Machine Group, a combination lab and think tank which studied new approaches to human-computer interface. In 1985, Negroponte created the MIT Media Lab with Jerome B. Wiesner. As director, he developed the lab into the pre-eminent computer science laboratory for new media and a high-tech playground for investigating the human-computer interface.

In 1992, Negroponte became involved in the creation of Wired Magazine as the first investor. From 1993 to 1998, he contributed a monthly column to the magazine in which he reiterated a basic theme: "Move bits, not atoms."

Negroponte expanded many of the ideas from his Wired columns into a bestselling book Being Digital (1995), which made famous his forecasts on how the interactive world, the entertainment world, and the information world eventually merge. Being Digital was a bestseller and was translated into some twenty languages. However, critics have faulted his techno-utopian ideas for failing to consider the historical, political, and cultural realities with which new technologies should be viewed.

In 2000, Negroponte stepped down as director of the Media Lab as Walter Bender took over as Executive Director. However, Negroponte retained the role of laboratory Chairman. When Frank Moss was appointed director of the lab in 2006, Negroponte stepped down as lab chairman to focus more fully on his work with One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) although he retains his appointment as professor at MIT.

In November 2005, at the World Summit on the Information Society held in Tunis, Negroponte unveiled a $100 laptop computer, The Children's Machine, designed for students in the developing world. The project is part of a broader program by One Laptop Per Child, a non-profit organisation started by Negroponte and other Media Lab faculty, to extend Internet access in developing countries.

Negroponte sits on several boards including Motorola (listed in New York Stock Exchange), Velti (listed in London Stock Exchange) and privately-held Ambient Devices. He has invested in over 30 startup companies over the last 30 years, including Zagats, Wired, Ambient Devices, Skype and Velti.

References

  • Kirkpatrick, David (November 28, 2005). "I'd Like to Teach the World to Type". Fortune, pp. 37–38.
  • Negroponte, N. (1995). Being Digital. Knopf.  (Paperback edition, 1996, Vintage Books, ISBN 0-679-76290-6)
  • Negroponte, N. (1991)."Products and Services for Computer Networks" - Scientific American Special Issue on Communications, Computers, and Networks, September, 1991
  • Negroponte, N. (1970). The Architecture Machine: Towards a More Human Environment. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-64010-4

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