Tinkertoys and Tic-Tac-Toe further elucidates just how cool MIT can be:
In 1975, when Hillis and Brian Silverman were in their sophomore year [at MIT], they participated in a class project to build something digital from Tinkertoys. The students sat down to play. One made an invertera logic device that converts a binary 1 signal to a 0 signal and conversely. Another made an OR gate; if either of the device’s two input signals happened to be a 1, then its output would also be a 1. It quickly became clear to the students that Tinkertoys were ‘computation universal,’ the theoretical term for a set of components from which a fully programmable computer can be constructed. Theoretical possibility was one thing, the practical demands of money and time another.