Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider was born March 11, 1915, in St. Louis, Missouri.
He displayed early engineering talent, building model airplanes.
Licklider studied at Washington University in St. Louis, where he received a BA in 1937, majoring in physics, mathematics and psychology, and an MA in psychology in 1938.
He received his PhD in psychoacoustics from the University of Rochester in 1942, and worked at the Psycho-Acoustic Laboratory at Harvard University from 1943 to 1950.
Licklider became interested in information technology, and moved to MIT in 1950 as an associate professor, where he served on a committee that established MIT Lincoln Laboratory and established a psychology program for engineering students.
In 1957 he received the Franklin V. Taylor Award from the Society of Engineering Psychologists.
In 1957, Lickider became a Vice President at Bolt Beranek and Newman, Inc., where he bought the first production PDP-1 computer and conducted the first public demonstration of time-sharing.
In 1958, Licklider was elected President of the Acoustical Society of America, and in 1990 he received the Commonwealth Award for Distinguished Service.
In October 1962, Licklider was appointed head of the Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) at ARPA, the United States Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
In 1963, he was named Director of Behavioral Sciences Command & Control Research at ARPA. In April of that year, he sent a memo to his colleagues in which he outlined the early challenges presented in trying to establish a time-sharing network of computers with the software of the era.
Ultimately, Licklider’s vision led to ARPANet, the precursor of today’s Internet.
In 1968, J.C.R. Licklider became director of Project MAC at MIT, and a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering.
Project MAC had produced the first computer time-sharing system, CTSS, and one of the first online setups with the development of Multics (work on which commenced in 1964). Multics provided inspiration for some elements of the Unix operating system developed at Bell Labs by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie in 1970.
He retired and became Professor Emeritus in 1985.
J.C.R. died June 26, 1990 in Arlington, Massachusetts.
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