The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) was conceived as a 'Research Institute' or 'University of Research' by Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, in the twilight years of the 19th century. A long period of almost thirteen years was to elapse from the initial conception in 1896 to the birth of the Institute on May 27, 1909. The early history of the Institute is a fascinating chapter in the story of higher education and scientific research in India. The cast of characters in the drama that led to the establishment of the Institute includes, in addition to its charismatic and generous founder J.N. Tata, figures from the pages of Indian history. There is Swami Vivekananda, whom J.N. Tata befriended on his famous voyage to the United States, the Maharaja of Mysore, Shri Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV and his mother then acting on his behalf, and Lord Curzon the Viceroy of India, whose first task on arrival on December 31, 1898 was to receive a draft proposal prepared by the Provisional Committee set up to plan the establishment of the Institute.