Jack McCauley

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Jack Jean McCauley
Born December 3, 1959 (1959-12-03) (age 57)
Battle Creek, Michigan, United States
Residence Reno, Nevada
Nationality United States
Education Bachelor of Science, University of California, Berkeley
Occupation Inventor, engineer, video game developer
Known for Guitar Hero, Oculus Rift
Children Sean McCauley, William McCauley

Jack McCauley is an American engineer, hardware designer, inventor, video game developer and philanthropist. McCauley is best known for designing the guitars and drums for the Guitar Hero video game series, and as a co-founder and Chief Engineer at Oculus VR, which was later acquired by Facebook for $2 billion.[2][3] At Oculus McCauley led the team that designed and built the Oculus DK1 and DK2 virtual reality headsets.[1][4]

Early life and education[edit]

McCauley was born on December 3, 1959 in Battle Creek, Michigan.[citation needed] McCauley grew up in the Groenekan, Netherlands before moving to Concord, California. From an early age, he loved taking things apart, building them into something new, exploring everything from basic spatial relationships to electronics. At age 9, McCauley won a nationwide contest and was awarded a Junior Tinker Engineer Award by the A.J. Spaulding Corporation, makers of The Original TinkerToy, for an original toy design submission.[5]

McCauley spent his formative years engaged in artistic and experimental activities. McCauley developed a talent for mathematics and science which he combined with mechanical abilities to experiment with chemicals, create explosives, and build gas powered vehicles including go-karts and motorcycles, which he rode around his neighborhood.[citation needed]

In 1980, McCauley was accepted into the U.S. Navy Nuclear Power School.[6] Impressed by his talent, the Department of Defense awarded McCauley a full scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley, College of Engineering where he specialized in electronics and circuit theory, and earned as BSc., Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) from UC Berkeley in 1986.[7]

McCauley credits U.C. Berkeley with rocketing him into a career as an engineer, “I largely skated through high school with minimal effort and arrived at Berkeley with poor study skills and academic habits. Cal change everything for me.”[1]

Early career[edit]

McCauley began his professional career at the U.S. Department of Defense.[6] Upon graduating from Berkeley, McCauley worked at various technology and gaming companies including Electronic Arts, Activision, Atari, Nintendo and Microsoft. McCauley helped develop USB drivers, kernel mode drivers, arcade machines and video game related peripherals.[1][2][8]

McCauley designed the guitars and drums for the Guitar Hero video game series and is the inventor the first scrolling feature of the computer mouse.[9][dubious ] Through his development work on Guitar Hero and Oculus VR, McCauley has been a key figure in incorporating Microelectricalmechanical systems (MEMS) technology into video games.[citation needed]

Guitar Hero[edit]

McCauley deepened his expertise in the video game industry, joining RedOctane in 2005 where he served as Chief Engineer of the Guitar Hero video game franchise. McCauley was the key contributor in the acquisition of RedOctane by Activision, where he served as the Director of Research from 2005 to 2009.[10]

McCauley designed the electronics for the Guitar Hero guitars and drum controller, which formed the basis for all subsequent Guitar Hero versions.[11] McCauley also designed key hardware for Time Crisis II and Time Crisis III, Silent Scope, Dance Dance Revolution, Area51, EA Sports Active 2 and Grand Theft Auto.[12]

The Guitar Hero franchise has been called one of the most influential video games of the 21st century. The series has sold more than 65 million units worldwide, earning more than US $2 billion at retail. Guitar Hero is the 3rd largest game franchise after the Mario and Madden NFL franchises. According to Activision, the third title of the series, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock was the first single video game title to exceed $1 billion in sales.[13]

Oculus VR[edit]

In July 2012, McCauley co-founded Oculus VR with Palmer Luckey, Brendan Iribe, Nate Mitchell, Michael Antonov, and Andrew Scott Reisse.[14] McCauley served as Chief Engineer at Oculus until 2015 when the company was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion.

At Oculus, McCauley built Palmer Luckey’s original prototype into a product for the company’s first Kickstarter campaign, and led the team that built and shipped the DK1 and DK2 developer kits,[15][16] both of which were completed in 120 days from concept to shipping. McCauley led production, designed the test equipment and managed production, engineering, and China-based manufacturing of the Oculus Rift, the company's virtual reality head-mounted display.[17]

Inventions and accomplishments[edit]

McCauley worked on creating audio effects; virtual reality motion control; computer peripherals; game controllers; haptic technology; sports and medical physiology measuring devices; light gun technology; composite HID USB device for gaming; and the guitar and drum controller for the Guitar Hero franchise.[1][2] He is one of the authors and originators of the Universal Serial Bus (USB) specification.[18][vague] McCauley has authored numerous research papers in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) and mathematical modeling of AI-based systems. He won the Red Dot award product design for the design of bone-conducting headphones.[19]

Video Game Role Developer
Forza Motorsport Modeling Microsoft
Guitar Hero Designer RedOctane
Guitar Hero II Designer Activision
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock Designer Activision
Guitar Hero World Tour Chief Designer Activision
Time Crisis II Designer Namco
Time Crisis 3 Designer Namco
Silent Scope Designer Konami
Dance Dance Revolution Designer Konami
Gran Turismo 2 Designer Sony Entertainment
EA Sports Active 2 Designer EA Sports
Grand Theft Auto Designer Take2
Oculus Rift Headset Chief Engineer Oculus VR


McCauley contributes to charities associated with the furtherance of education and science. In 2015 McCauley, along with Paul Jacobs and others, funded the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation.[11] McCauley is passionate about helping young, gifted students discover their full potential. He currently is an Innovator in Residence at Jacob’s Institute of Design, College of Engineering at UC Berkeley.[20]

Personal life[edit]

McCauley lives in Reno, Nevada.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Maker Hero: Alumnus Jack McCauley on Guitar Hero, Oculus and the Future of Making," Berkeley Innovators, retrieved March 22, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Cacho, Gieson (16 October 2008). "'Guitar' hero: Danville resident was instrumental in designing controller". Contra Costa Times. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  3. ^ "More Guitar Hero World tidbits," by Gieson Cacho, A+E Interactive, October 16, 2008, retrieved March 22, 2015.
  4. ^ "'Oculus VR, Jack McCauley VP Engineering". 10 October 2014. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  5. ^ Tekla Perry (7 November 2015). "Oculus Co-founder Jack McCauley's Next Challenge: The Perfect Head-Tracker for VR". IEEE Spectrum. 
  6. ^ a b "Jack McCauley". LinkedIn. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  7. ^ "Jacj J. McCauley". Zoominfo. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  8. ^ "More Guitar Hero World tidbits," by Gieson Cacho, A+E Interactive, October 16, 2008, retrieved March 22, 2015.
  9. ^ "More Guitar Hero World tidbits," by Gieson Cacho, A+E Interactive, October 16, 2008, retrieved March 22, 2015.
  10. ^ "Jack McCauley". MobyGames. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  11. ^ a b "Designer of scrolling mouse and Oculus Rift funds design innovation," by Kirsten Mickelwait, Berkeley Engineer Magazine, June 16, 2015, retrieved June 29, 2015.
  12. ^ "Jack McCauley". IMDB. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  13. ^ Faylor, Chris (2009-01-12). "Guitar Hero 3 Is The Highest Grossing Retail Game Ever, Claims Activision". Shacknews. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  14. ^ "Meet the Genius Behind Oculus Rift," by Chris Raymond, Success, May 23, 2014, retrieved March 22, 2015.
  15. ^ "Inside Oculus: Rare photos from the early days of Facebook's virtual reality pioneer". Business Insider. 14 October 2015. Retrieved 5 November 2016. 
  16. ^ "Oculus VR co-founder Jack McCauley on VR, AR and his creative new project". Silicon Valley Business Journal. 8 October 2015. Retrieved 5 November 2016. 
  17. ^ Ben Lang (8 March 2016). "Exclusive: Former Oculus VP of Engineering Demonstrates Long Range VR Tracking System". Roadtovr.com. Retrieved 5 November 2016. 
  18. ^ Kirsten Mickelwait (27 July 2015). "Modern-day Edison creates design innovation fund". UC Berkeley. 
  19. ^ Cacho, Gieson (16 October 2008). "More Guitar Hero World Tour tidbits". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  20. ^ "Oculus VR co-founder Jack McCauley on VR, AR and his creative new project". Bizjournals. 8 October 2015. 

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