J. C. R. Licklider
|Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider|
March 11, 1915|
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
|Died||June 26, 1990
"Computing's Johnny Appleseed"
|Education||Washington University in St. Louis
University of Rochester
|Known for||Cybernetics/Interactive computing
"Intergalactic Computer Network" (Internet)
Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider (March 11, 1915 – June 26, 1990), known simply as J.C.R. or "Lick" was an American psychologist  and computer scientist considered one of the most important figures in computer science and general computing history. He is particularly remembered for being one of the first to foresee modern-style interactive computing, and its application to all manner of activities; and also as an Internet pioneer, with an early vision of a worldwide computer network long before it was built. He did much to actually initiate all that through his funding of research which led to a great deal of it, including today's canonical graphical user interface, and the ARPANET, the direct predecessor to the Internet.
He has been called "computing's Johnny Appleseed", for having planted the seeds of computing in the digital age. Robert Taylor, founder of Xerox PARC's Computer Science Laboratory and Digital Equipment Corporation's Systems Research Center, noted that "most of the significant advances in computer technology—including the work that my group did at Xerox PARC—were simply extrapolations of Lick's vision. They were not really new visions of their own. So he was really the father of it all".
For people who only know today's computerized, information-rich world, the change from what came before, and thus his impact on the world (since his ideas, and the work of people he sponsored, has led, directly and indirectly, to much of it), is probably hard to truly fathom. This quotation from the full-length biography of him called The Dream Machine, gives some sense of it:
- "More than a decade will pass before personal computers emerge from the garages of Silicon Valley, and a full thirty years before the Internet explosion of the 1990s. The word computer still has an ominous tone, conjuring up the image of a huge, intimidating device hidden away in an overlit, air-conditioned basement, relentlessly processing punch cards for some large institution: them.
- "Yet, sitting in a nondescript office in McNamara's Pentagon, a quiet...civilian is already planning the revolution that will change forever the way computers are perceived. Somehow, the occupant of that office...has seen a future in which computers will empower individuals, instead of forcing them into rigid conformity. He is almost alone in his conviction that computers can become not just superfast calculating machines, but joyful machines: tools that will serve as new media of expression, inspirations to creativity, and gateways to a vast world of online information."
Licklider was born on March 11, 1915, in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. He was the only child of Joseph Parron Licklider, a Baptist minister, and Margaret Robnett Licklider. Despite his father's religious background, he was not religious in later life. He displayed early engineering talent, building model airplanes. He carried on with his hobby of refurbishing automobiles throughout his life.
He studied at Washington University in St. Louis, where he received a bachelor of arts degree in 1937, majoring in physics, mathematics, and psychology, and a master of arts degree in psychology in 1938. He received a PhD in psychoacoustics from the University of Rochester in 1942, and worked at the Psycho-Acoustic Laboratory at Harvard University from 1943 to 1950.
He 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 1958 he was elected President of the Acoustical Society of America, and in 1990 he received the Commonwealth Award for Distinguished Service.
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, his 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. He died in 1990 in Arlington, Massachusetts, from complications following an asthma attack. He was survived by his wife, Louise Carpenter Licklider, son Tracy Robnett Licklider and daughter Linda Licklider Smith and 2 grandchildren.
In the psychoacoustics field, Licklider is most remembered for his 1951 "Duplex Theory of Pitch Perception", presented in a paper that has been cited hundreds of times, was reprinted in a 1979 book, and formed the basis for modern models of pitch perception.
Semi-Automatic Ground Environment
While at MIT in the 1950s, Licklider worked on "SAGE" (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment), a Cold War project to create a computer-aided air defense system. The SAGE system included computers that collected and presented data to a human operator, who then chose the appropriate response. Licklider worked as a human factors expert, which helped convince him of the great potential for human/computer interfaces.
Licklider became interested in information technology early in his career. His ideas foretold of graphical computing, point-and-click interfaces, digital libraries, e-commerce, online banking, and software that would exist on a network and migrate wherever it was needed. Much like Vannevar Bush's, Licklider's contribution to the development of the Internet consists of ideas, not inventions. He foresaw the need for networked computers with easy user interfaces. He also did some seminal early work for the Council on Library Resources, imagining what libraries of the future might look like.
Licklider was instrumental in conceiving, funding and managing the research that led to modern personal computers and the Internet. In 1960 his seminal paper on Man-Computer Symbiosis foreshadowed interactive computing, and he went on to fund early efforts in time-sharing and application development, most notably the work of Douglas Engelbart, who founded the Augmentation Research Center at Stanford Research Institute and created the famous On-Line System where the computer mouse was invented.
In Man–Computer Symbiosis, Licklider outlined the need for simpler interaction between computers and computer users. Licklider has been credited as an early pioneer of cybernetics and artificial intelligence (AI), but unlike many AI practitioners, Licklider never felt that men would be replaced by computer-based beings. As he wrote in that article: "Men will set the goals, formulate the hypotheses, determine the criteria, and perform the evaluations. Computing machines will do the routinizable work that must be done to prepare the way for insights and decisions in technical and scientific thinking".
During his time as director of ARPA's Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) from 1962 to 1964, he funded Project MAC at MIT where a large mainframe computer was designed to be shared by up to 30 simultaneous users, each sitting at a separate "typewriter terminal". He also funded similar projects at Stanford University, UCLA, UC Berkeley, and the System Development Corporation. In 1964, Licklider left IPTO and went to work at IBM. In 1968, he went back to MIT to lead Project MAC.
Global computer network
Licklider played a similar role in conceiving of and funding early networking research, most notably the ARPAnet. He formulated the earliest ideas of a global computer network in August 1962 at BBN, in a series of memos discussing the "Intergalactic Computer Network" concept. These ideas contained almost everything that the Internet is today, including cloud computing.
In 1967 Licklider submitted the paper "Televistas: Looking ahead through side windows" to the Carnegie Commission on Educational Television. This paper describes a radical departure from the "broadcast" model of television. Instead, Licklider advocates a two-way communications network. The Carnegie Commission led to the creation of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Although the Commission's report explains that "Dr. Licklider's paper was completed after the Commission had formulated its own conclusions," President Johnson said at the signing of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, "So I think we must consider new ways to build a great network for knowledge-not just a broadcast system, but one that employs every means of sending and of storing information that the individual can use".
His 1968 paper The Computer as a Communication Device illustrates his vision of network applications and predicts the use of computer networks to support communities of common interest and collaboration without regard to location.
Licklider has written several articles and books:
- 1942. An Electrical Investigation of Frequency-Localization in the Auditory Cortex of the Cat. Ph.D. Thesis University of Rochester
- 1965. Libraries of the future. Cambridge, Mass., M.I.T. Press (alternative online source)
Articles, a selection:
- 1960. "Man-Computer Symbiosis". In: Transactions on Human Factors in Electronics, volume HFE-1, pages 4–11, March 1960.
- 1965. "Man-Computer Partnership". In: International Science and Technology May 1965.
- 1967. "Televistas: Looking ahead through side windows"
- 1968. "The Computer as a Communication Device". In: Science and Technology. April 1968.
- Miller, G. A. (1991), "J. C. R. Licklider, psychologist", Journal of the Acoustic Society of America 89, no. 4B, pp. 1887-1887
- Waldrop, M. Mitchell (2001). The Dream Machine: J. C. R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal. New York: Viking Penguin. p. 470. ISBN 0-670-89976-3.
- Waldrop, op. cit., dust jacket
- Internet Pioneers: J.C.R. Licklider, retrieved online: 2009-05-19
- Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider 1915—1990, A Biographical Memoir by Robert M. Fano, National Academies Press, Washington D.C., 1998
- M. Mitchell Waldrop (2002). The Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal. Penguin Books. p. 471. ISBN 9780142001356. "Al Vezza was insistent, remembers Louise Licklider. "Lick had said that he didn't want any kind of to-do when he died", she says. "He wasn't religious himself, even though his father had been a Southern Baptist minister, so it would seem totally phony if he'd had a big religious service.""
- Jay R. Hauben. "J. C. R. Licklider (1915-1990)". Columbia University. Retrieved March 30, 2011.
- J. C. R. Licklider (April 23, 1963). "Memorandum For Members and Affiliates of the Intergalactic Computer Network". Washington, D.C.: Advanced Research Projects Agency. Retrieved August 19th, 2013.
- Licklider, J. C. R. (1951). "A duplex theory of pitch perception". Experientia (Basel) 7, 4, 128–134.
- "Google Scholar".
- Earl D. Schubert (1979). Physiological Acoustics. Stroudsburg PA: Dowden, Hutchinson, and Ross, Inc.
- R. D. Patterson, J. Holdsworth, and M. Allerhand (1992). "Auditory Models as Preprocessors for Speech Recognition". In Marten Egbertus Hendrik Schouten. The Auditory Processing of Speech: From Sounds to Words. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-013589-2.
- "J. C. R. Licklider And The Universal Network", Living Internet, accessed 18 September 2012
- Licklider, J. C. R. (1965). Libraries of the Future. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology. p. 1965.
- "J. C. R. Licklider". The History of Computing Project. thocp.net. July 8, 2001. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
- Licklider, J. C. R., "Man-Computer Symbiosis", IRE Transactions on Human Factors in Electronics, vol. HFE-1, 4-11, March 1960.
- Mohamed, Arif (March 2009). "A History of Cloud Computing". ComputerWeekly. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
- "Televistas: Looking ahead through side windows", J. C. R. Licklider, Supplementary Papers submitted to the Carnegie Commission on Educational Television, 1967
- Johnson, Lyndon B. (November 7, 1967). "Remarks of President Lyndon B. Johnson Upon Signing the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967". cpb.org. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
- "The Computer as a Communication Device", J.C.R. Licklider and Robert W. Taylor, Science and Technology, April 1968
- M. Mitchell Waldrop (2001) The Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal ISBN 0-670-89976-3 is an extensive biography of J.C.R. Licklider.
- Katie Hafner & Matthew Lyon (1998) Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins Of The Internet, Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-83267-4.
- Augmenting Human Intellect paper, Douglas Engelbart, October 1962.
- Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider, Libraries of the Future. Cambridge, MA, 1965.
- Computer Networks: The Heralds of Resource Sharing  video documentary, 1972. Licklider explains online resource sharing, about 10 minutes into the documentary, and reappears throughout.
- From World Brain to the World Wide Web, Lecture by Martin Campbell-Kelly at Gresham College, 9 November 2006.
- Seeding Networks: the Federal Role, Larry Press, Communications of the ACM, pp. 11–18, Vol 39., No 10, October, 1996. A survey of US government funded research and development preceding and including the National Science Foundation backbone and international connections programs.
- Before the Altair – The History of Personal Computing, Larry Press, Communications of the ACM, September, 1993, Vol 36, No 9, pp 27–33. A survey of research and development leading to the personal computer including Licklider's contributions.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: J. C. R. Licklider|
- J. C. R. Licklider And The Universal Network — Living Internet
- Oral history interview with J. C. R. Licklider at Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Licklider, the first director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency's (ARPA) Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO), discusses his work at Lincoln Laboratory and IPTO. Topics include: personnel recruitment; the interrelations between the various Massachusetts Institute of Technology laboratories; Licklider's relationship with Bolt, Beranek, and Newman; the work of ARPA director Jack Ruina; IPTO's influence of computer science research in the areas of interactive computing and timesharing; the ARPA contracting process; the work of Ivan Sutherland.
- Oral history interview with Robert E. Kahn at Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Kahn discusses the work of various DARPA and IPTO personnel including J. C. R. Licklider.