JCR Licklider (1915-1990)

1915 Born March 11 in St. Louis, Mo

193?-1937 Studied math, physics and psychology at Washington 
     Univ., St. Louis. BA 1937

1937-1938 Masters study [?????] Washington Univ., St. Louis. MA 

19??-1942 Graduate study University of Rochester. Ph.D. 1942 
     Thesis "An Electrical Investigation of Frequency-
     Localization in the Auditory Cortex of the Cat."

Early WWII Research Associate at Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA
     Studied Gestalt psychology with Wolfgang Koeller

1943-1946 Research Fellow in the Psycho-Acoustics Laboratory, Harvard 
     University, Cambridge, MA, advancing "theories of pitch 
     perception and the intelligibility of speech" (NYT 7/3/90)
     "Interested in high-altitude communication, 
     particularly in ways of compressing speech to increase 
     the carrying power of radio and stuff like that." 
     (Annals, 14, 2, p. 16.) Fano said, "There was some very 
     substantial work that he did during the war .... He did 
     something called "clipped speech"-- he invented [it]: 
     it worked very well." (Annals) Numerous scientific 
     papers published e.g., Jour. Acous. Soc. Am.

1946-1949 Lecturer at Harvard "mainly doing research, but also a 
     little bit of teaching ... statistics and physiological 
     psychology ... subjects like that" (Babbage interview)
     "At that time Norbert Wiener ran a circle that was very 
     attractive to people all over Cambridge, and on Tuesday 
     nights I went to that." (Annals, Vol 14 no 2 p.16)

1950-1957 Went as Associate Professor to Massachusetts Institute of 
     Technology to "start up a psychology section which we 
     hoped would eventually become a Psychology Department 
     ... in the Electrical Engineering Department ... 
     taught a little bit of electrical engineering."

Summer '51 Participated in Project Hartwell (Navy supported 
     research concerning underseas warfare and overseas 

1952-1953 Participant in Project Charles (Air Force study of air 
     defense). "At that time, some of the more impressionable 
     ones of us were expecting there would be 50,000 Soviet 
     bombers coming in over here." (Annals) Lead to the 
     creation of Lincoln Laboratories. "I was trying to 
     model how the brain works in hearing with an analog 
     computer .... My time was divided a third time 
     acoustics lab, a third time trying to build a 
     psychology section ..., and one third in the Lincoln 
     Laboratory... really had to learn digital computing, 
     because I couldn't do this stuff with analog computers" (Annals)

1957 Franklin V. Taylor Award, Society of Engineering

1957-1962 Vice President for psycho-acoustics, engineering 
     psychology and information systems at Bolt Beranek and 

1958 President of the Acoustical Society of America

1959-1962 Did research and management work at BBN using DEC PDP-I
     Worked under Council on Library Resources grant (1991-3)
     "I was having such a marvelous time at BBN, working on 
     computer based library stuff and all kinds of aural 
     radar." (Annals) Did "a little study ... on how I would 
     spend my time. It showed that almost all my time was 
     spent on algorithmic things that were no fun, but they 
     were all necessary for the few heuristic things that 
     seemed important. I had this little picture in my mind 
     how we were going to get people and computers really 
     thinking together." (Annals)

1960 Published "Man-Computer Symbiosis"

1962-1964 Directed ARPA information processing technology and 
     behavioral sciences section (IPTO 1963-4). Encouraged 
     research into time-sharing at MIT, SDC, Berkeley, UCLA, etc 
     and distributed enough money to incubate the formation 
     of computer science departments that eventually would 
     be linked up via the ARPNET. (Funding for Project MAC 
     started in 1963.) Fano said, Licklider was "very 
     different from most heads of branches of the 
     government, .... not sitting in your office waiting for 
     proposals to arrive after sending out a brochure ... 
     running around the country trying to generate 
     enthusiasm." (Annals)

1964-1967 Manager of Information Sciences, Systems and Applications
  at the Thomas J. Watson Center of International Business Machines. 
  Lived near Mt. Kisco, NY.

1965 Published Libraries of the Future

Summer 1966 Participant in EduCom Summer Study on Information 
  Networks at Boulder Colorado planning EduNet.

1968 Published with Robert Taylor "The Computer as 
  Communication Device"      

1968-1970 Director of MIT Project MAC concurrently as Professor 
  of Electrical Engineering.

1971-1973 MIT

1974-1975 Director of IPTO

1975-1986 Professor at MIT Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS)

1986-1990 Professor Emeritus at MIT (1988 had 8MB RAM 150MB HD 
  computer on his desk.)

1990 Common Wealth Award for Distinguished Service

6/26/90 Died in Arlington, MA from complications after an asthma 

Family: Louise (wife), Tracy (son of Cambridge, MA), Linda Smith 
  (daughter of Arlington, MA)

Memberships: National Academy of Sciences, Acoustic Society of 
  America, Academy of Arts and Sciences, Association for 
  Computing Machinery


1) "J.C.R. Licklider's work affected many people, most of whom will 
never be aware of him. But his spirit endures in the people who 
knew him and who were effected by him. Few people who knew Lick 
will forget him."  Robert F. Rosin (quoted in Computer Pioneers 
edited by J.A.N. Lee, p. 444)

2) "I think I first met Licklider at the recommendation of Minsky 
and McCarthy, who worked together in artificial intelligence at 
MIT. Lick was a delightful enthusiast. Sometime after the 
symposia he went to work for ARPA to head up an information 
systems office. In that position, he managed to convince the 
Department of Defense to allocate a very tidy sum to support the 
development of time sharing. Then, instead of dispensing money 
around the country, he asked us to mount a concentrated effort at 
MIT to do the R&D and evangelize the technology worldwide, which 
we were glad to do. Lick was a dreamer with his feet on the 
ground. He knew how to inspire and he knew how to get resources. 
In other words, he knew how to make dreams become reality. In my 
estimation, no one deserves more credit than he for making good 
on the visions of that era." "Martin Greenberger, Technology's 
Marathon Man," in Educom Review, Vol 31 no 2, March/April 1996, 
pp. 20-26. p. 22

3) "Lick had a vision of a better way of computing.... Lick 
believed we could do better and, more than any other single 
individual, saw to it that we did."

Speaking about graduate programs in computer science at "U.C. 
Berkeley, CMU, MIT, and Stanford.... Their success would have 
been impossible without the foundation put in place by Lick in 

"Lick's vision provided an extremely fruitful, long-term 
direction for computing research.... And he laid the foundation 
for graduate education in the newly created field of computer 
science. All users of interactive computing and every company 
that employs computer people owe him a great debt."  

Preface by Robert W. Taylor "In Memoriam: J.C.R. Licklider 1915-
1990," Digital Research Center Research Report #61, Palo Alto, 
CA, August 7, 1990.