Our History

MITRE's roots began in the computer laboratories of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) during World War II. Throughout the 1940s and early 1950s, MIT's scientists developed the first large-scale digital computer, dubbed Whirlwind I. A group of engineers working at MIT Lincoln Laboratory's Division 6 continued to expand its capabilities. When the Air Force needed a framework on which to build an advanced air-defense system, it chose Whirlwind I.

In July 1958, The MITRE Corporation was chartered as a private, not-for-profit corporation to provide engineering and technical guidance for the federal government—with an initial focus on defense needs. Following the closure of Division 6, most of the research staff joined MITRE to support the Air Force's air-defense mission.

The new company took on the task of developing SAGE—the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment pioneering continental air-defense system. SAGE's complexity demanded an organization that could reach across traditional boundaries among the military, industry, and academia.

Our role integrating SAGE's many elements established us as a leader in the new discipline of systems engineering. That was just the beginning.

In the decades since, we've earned an international reputation for technical excellence and innovation for military and civil agencies. The company and our employees have received many awards recognizing our achievements in aviation, defense, cybersecurity, and much more.

We're proud to have served the public interest for more than 50 years. We look forward to continuing to serve.