History

The MIT Press was formally established in 1962. Since then, it has provided a unique lens on the interplay among science, design, technology, and culture to accelerate social progress and promote human understanding. Interdisciplinary and innovative, pushing boundaries in every direction, it is one of the world’s largest and most distinguished university presses, with a list unparalleled in breadth, depth, and diversity. Its books, journals, and digital products are relentlessly forward-thinking and have helped shape emerging fields of inquiry.

The Press has a proud legacy of bold, socially engaged publishing that champions the sharing of information and ideas from divergent perspectives. Each year, the Press publishes over 350 trade books, monographs, and textbooks in print and digital formats across a wide range of disciplines. The Press’s journals division was established in the early 1970s and today publishes more than 40 titles, selectively acquiring and launching new journals every year in areas including neuroscience, computer science, art and design, music, economics, architecture, media, politics, and more. 

The MIT Press is in a design league of its own, producing beautiful and daringly conceived works. Its logo—recognized worldwide—was created by design pioneer Muriel Cooper in 1964. The Press’s legacy is outstanding content presented with iconic design and production values. And as part of MIT’s long-standing commitment to openly sharing science and scholarship, the MIT Press leads in freely distributing many of its award-winning books and journals through programs like Direct to Open (D2O), launched in 2021.

Looking to the future, the MIT Press will continue to bring new knowledge to minds, hands, and hearts around the world, where it has the highest potential for social benefit. It will honor real-world complexity by featuring provocative scholarship that crosses traditional academic and geographic boundaries. And as the global community mobilizes to overcome the challenges that lie ahead, the MIT Press will actively contribute by spreading knowledge in the form of new discoveries and bold ideas. After all, the greatest insights have the most impact when they are effectively communicated and widely understood.

Explore memories and appreciations from MIT Press authors, friends, staff, and MIT community members on our 60th anniversary website. And to learn more about the MIT Press, please enjoy brochures and publications prepared during our 60th and 50th anniversary celebrations:

Our Timeline

1926: MIT begins publishing under the imprint MIT the first book, based on a series of lectures given by the physicist at the Institute, is Max Born’s Problems of Atomic Dynamics.

1932: The Technology Press imprint is established by James R. Killian, Jr., tenth president of MIT.

1937: John Wiley & Sons takes over editorial and marketing functions of the Press.

1957: Lynwood Bryant becomes Director of The Technology Press.

1961: The Technology Press Board unanimously approves renaming the Press as the MIT Press. The first book with the MIT Press imprint is published: The Electrical Double Layer Around a Spherical Colloid Particle, by A. L. Loeb, J. Th. G. Overbeek, and P. H. Wiersema.

1962: The MIT Press begins operations as a freestanding publishing operation after the separation from John Wiley & Sons. The MIT Press’s first director, Carroll Bowen, is appointed.

1962: Muriel Cooper is hired as art director at the MIT Press. Under her direction, the Press undergoes a visual makeover; she creates a distinctive graphic design for its books, promotional pieces, letterhead, and the striking MIT Press colophon. The Press releases its first set of paperback editions.

1969: The Press opens its European marketing office in London. Today we sell a higher proportion of our products outside the United States than any other U.S. university press.

1970: The MIT Press publishes its first journals with the inaugural issues of Linguistic Inquiry and Journal of Interdisciplinary History. Howard R. Webber is appointed director of the Press, succeeding Bowen.

1974: Constantine Simonides takes over as interim director, succeeding Webber.

1975: Frank Urbanowski is appointed director of the Press, succeeding Simonides.

1980: The MIT Press Bookstore opens its doors. It is still one of the only public bookstores owned and operated by a university press

1981–1982: Urbanowski responds to an economic downturn by reshaping the Press to focus only on selected fields and to publish deeply within those fields, a strategy that in subsequent years would be widely adopted by university presses.

1981: The Press acquiresBradford Books. Harry and Betty Stanton join the Press; the first Bradford Books title published by the Press is Brainstorms, by Daniel C. Dennett.

1992–1994: The MIT Press launches its first online catalog and website.

1995: The Press publishes the first full-text interactive electronic book, City of Bits, by William J. Mitchell, and its first electronic-only journal, Chicago Journal of Theoretical Computer Science.

1996–2000: The MIT Press’s Digital Projects Lab is created and develops both ArchNet, the electronic community for Islamic architecture, and CogNet, the electronic community for the cognitive sciences.

2001: CogNet becomes a paid subscription-based product. ArchNet is transferred to MIT’s Department of Architecture and Planning.

2003: Frank Urbanowski retires and Ellen W. Faran is appointed director of the Press.

2011: The MIT Press launches the Essential Knowledge Series.

2012: The MIT Press celebrates its 50th anniversary.

2015: Amy Brand named director of the Press, succeeding Faran.

2018: The MIT Press and the MIT Media Lab launch the Knowledge Futures Group.

2019: The MIT Press launches the MIT Press Reader.

2021: Amy Brand promoted to Director and Publisher of the Press. The MIT Press also launches two major initiatives: Direct to Open (D2O), a collective action open access business model for scholarly monographs that allows the Press to make many of its professional and scholarly monographs and edited collections freely available to the public; and the Grant Program for Diverse Voices, an initiative which supports new work by authors who bring excluded and chronically underrepresented perspectives to the fields in which the Press publishes across the sciences, arts, and humanities.