Scripting News: Drew Houston and the role of MIT.

A picture named newAccordionGuyBig.gifI read an interview with Dropbox founder Drew Houston that ran in MIT Tech Review in early 2012. Really interesting story, well worth a read, especially for this bit about where the idea for Dropbox came from.

“For me, it goes all the way back to MIT, where there is a campus network called Athena. You can sit down at any of thousands of workstations and your whole environment follows you around: not just your files but where your icons were on your desktop. Then I left and discovered that no one had really built that for the rest of the world.”

I thought — how interesting, the idea for a hugely important, transformative technology came from using the campus network as a student at MIT.

Then I remembered where Zuck was when Facebook was being hatched. In case you’re not familiar with the legend, it was down the street in Cambridge at Harvard. His co-founders were also Harvard undergrads.

In my own case, the idea for outlining came in a hallway conversation with a fellow grad student at the University of Wisconsin. He told me about editors for Lisp systems that understood structure. From there it was a few steps to editable structures for non-programmers.

Universities, for people who really use them, can be incredible places to make connections between people and ideas.


About Dave Winer

Dave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
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