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Jack McCauley

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Jack McCauley
NationalityUnited States
EducationBachelor of Science, University of California, Berkeley
OccupationInventor, engineer, video game developer
Known forGuitar Hero, Oculus Rift[1]

Jack McCauley is an American engineer, hardware designer, inventor, video game developer and philanthropist. As an engineer at Activision, he designed the guitars and drums for the Guitar Hero video game series and was the Chief Engineer at Oculus VR,[2][3] which was later acquired by Facebook for $2 billion. At Oculus, McCauley was chief developer of the Oculus DK1 and DK2 virtual reality headsets.[1]

Early life and education

From an early age, McCauley loved taking things apart, building them into something new, exploring everything from basic spatial relationships to electronics. When he was 9, Tinkertoy named him a "Junior Tinkertoy Engineer".[4]

In 1980, McCauley was accepted into the U.S. Navy Nuclear Power School.[5] The Department of Defense awarded him a full scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley, College of Engineering, where he specialized in electronics and circuit theory and earned a BSc. in electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) in 1986. McCauley credits U.C. Berkeley with moving him into his career as an engineer.[1]


McCauley began his professional career at the U.S. Department of Defense.[5] Upon graduating from Berkeley, he worked at various technology and gaming companies including Electronic Arts, Activision, Atari, Nintendo and Microsoft. He helped develop USB drivers, kernel mode drivers, arcade machines and video game related peripherals.[1][2][3]

McCauley designed the guitars and drums for the Guitar Hero video game series[3] and invented the first scrolling feature for the computer mouse.[6] 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

In 2005 McCauley joined RedOctane, where he served as Chief Engineer of the Guitar Hero video game franchise. He was a contributor in the acquisition of RedOctane by Activision, where he served as the Director of Research from 2005 to 2009.[7]

McCauley designed the electronics for the Guitar Hero guitars and drum controller, which formed the basis for all subsequent Guitar Hero versions.[3][6] He 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.[citation needed]

Oculus VR

In July 2012, McCauley was recruited by Oculus VR, where he joined Palmer Luckey, Brendan Iribe, Nate Mitchell, and Michael Antonov.[8] He served as Chief Engineer at Oculus until 2015 when the company was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion.[9]

At Oculus, McCauley built Luckey's original prototype into a product for the company’s first Kickstarter campaign,[dubious ] and headed engineering while working on development of the DK1 and DK2 developer kits,[10][11] both of which were completed in 120 days from concept to shipping.[citation needed] 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.[12]

Inventions and accomplishments

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 originators of the Universal Serial Bus (USB) specification.[13] He has authored numerous research papers in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) and mathematical modeling of AI-based systems.[14] He won the Red Dot award product design for the design of bone-conducting headphones.[3]

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
Oculus Rift Headset Chief Engineer Oculus VR


McCauley contributes to charities associated with the furtherance of education and science. In 2015 he, Paul Jacobs and others funded the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation at the UC Berkeley College of Engineering;[6] as of October 2015, he is an Innovator in Residence there.[11]


  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 (October 16, 2008). "'Guitar' hero: Danville resident was instrumental in designing controller". Contra Costa Times. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e "More Guitar Hero World tidbits," by Gieson Cacho, A+E Interactive, October 16, 2008; retrieved March 22, 2015.
  4. ^ Tekla Perry (November 7, 2015). "Oculus Co-founder Jack McCauley's Next Challenge: The Perfect Head-Tracker for VR". IEEE Spectrum.
  5. ^ a b "Jack McCauley". LinkedIn. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
  6. ^ a b c Kirsten Mickelwait, "Designer of scrolling mouse and Oculus Rift funds design innovation", Berkeley Engineer Magazine, June 16, 2015; retrieved June 29, 2015.
  7. ^ "Jack McCauley". MobyGames. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
  8. ^ Chris Raymond, "Meet the Genius Behind Oculus Rift",, May 23, 2014; retrieved March 22, 2015.
  9. ^ Josh Constine (2014). "Facebook's $2 Billion Acquisition Of Oculus Closes, Now Official".
  10. ^ "Inside Oculus: Rare photos from the early days of Facebook's virtual reality pioneer". Business Insider. Retrieved October 3, 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Oculus VR co-founder Jack McCauley on VR, AR and his creative new project". Silicon Valley Business Journal. October 8, 2015. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  12. ^ Ben Lang (March 8, 2016). "Exclusive: Former Oculus VP of Engineering Demonstrates Long Range VR Tracking System". Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  13. ^ Kirsten Mickelwait (July 27, 2015). "Modern-day Edison creates design innovation fund". UC Berkeley.
  14. ^ Jack McCauley (March 1, 1994). "A Fuzzy Logic Torque Servo". Dr. Dobb's.