John J. Donovan

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John Joseph Donovan
John Donovan at MIT 2015 cropped.jpg
John J. Donovan at MIT in 2015
Born February 12, 1942
Lynn, Massachusetts
Nationality American, Irish
Citizenship United States
Alma mater
Known for Entrepreneurship, Information Technology, Philanthropy
Net worth $1 Billion[1]
Spouse(s) Linda Donovan
Website Professor John J. Donovan
Scientific career
Doctoral advisor
Doctoral students
John Donovan Signature.png
Jay-Yong Lee, George H. W. Bush and John Donovan at the opening of Samsung's chip factory in Texas.
Donovan with John Reed (Chairman, MIT Corporation) in MIT Building 10 (2015)

John J. Donovan (born 1942) is an executive training guru,[2] successful entrepreneur, tenured MIT Professor, and philanthropist who has been dubbed "the Johnny Carson of the training circuit" for his ability to make complex concepts relatable to business-owners and laymen during his tenure at MIT and subsequent business career.

Academic career[edit]

Donovan attended Lynn English High School, where a teacher noticed his gift in math and recommended him to Yale colleagues, where he obtained two master's degrees - one in engineering and one in science, and a PhD - from Yale University.[3] He subsequently was a Ford Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT),[3][4] where in 1969 he received the David A. Schultz Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1969 and the Student Teaching Award for years 1970-72.[5] In 1977, he became one of the youngest tenured professors at MIT.[6]

He authored multiple computer science textbooks, including Systems Programming (1972) and Operating Systems (1974), and his research focused on early work in operating systems, databases, and later applications of IT to business.[7][8] He also wrote business textbooks such as Business Re-engineering with Information Technology (1994) and Business & Technology: A Paradigm Shift (1993).[9][10] Donovan and his son, John Jr. co-authored a book titled The Second Industrial Revolution (1997).[11][12]

Donovan also served as an assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine. He received two awards for his work at the Center for Birth Defects.[13][14] Donovan later lectured on Strategic Computing in Government while at Harvard University.[15] He received the first Honorary Doctorate in Economics from the University of Economics, Prague since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Business career[edit]

Donovan started his business career by providing technical training for AT&T computer business personnel.[16][17] Later courses shifted towards sales and strategy training to executives. This led to Donovan devising a method of helping companies meet their customers' needs through workshops which he ran for over 200 companies including Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, IBM, and SAP.

Through these workshops Professor Donovan founded many companies including: Cambridge Technology Group, One Wave, Open Environment Corporation, Cambridge Technology Partners, and CellExchange.[18][19][20]

The total market cap of all companies he created exceeded $10.6 billion.[21]

Public Service[edit]

Donovan served on National Academy of Sciences Advisory Committee on Technology reporting to President Jimmy Carter. Donovan also worked with President George H. W. Bush's administration on the impact of the internet and applications for a program sponsored by DARPA.

Donovan worked with Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff General Richard Myers to develop the Joint Protection Enterprise Network (JPEN), a system developed in response to the September 11 attacks.[22][23]

Donovan also worked with Tip O'Neill and Ted Kennedy on birth defect legislation, which was based on Donovan's work at Tufts University School of Medicine Birth Defects Center.[24][25][26][27]

Along with his son John Jr., Donovan established the John J. Donovan Family Scholarship at Yale University.[28] Through his charitable organization Children’s Potential Unlimited, he donated computers to Connery Elementary School in Lynn, Massachusetts.[29]

Current Endeavors[edit]

Donovan is a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University[30] and is affiliated with MIT's Economics Department.

In 2009, Donovan was recognized by the Essex County Trail Association for his land conservation work.[31][32][33][34] Donovan has also done land conservation work in Vermont.[35]

He is the founder and chairman of SendItLater, an ecommerce platform that allows for gift scheduling.[36]

Personal life[edit]

Father and Son. John Jr died April 25th, 2015.

Donovan was born in Lynn, Massachusetts to John J. Sr. and Madeline Donovan. John J. Sr. was an elementary school teacher and part-time police officer. Madeline was a social worker. Donovan has mentioned that his father passed down a strong love for teaching. At Lynn High, a teacher noticed his unique ability to find patterns of mathematics and replicate them, and asked him to teach his peers. Inspired by the opportunity, Donovan credits this empowerment as life-changing.[37]

In August 2007, John J. Donovan was fined $625 for filing a false police report.[38][39][40]

Donovan is married to Linda Donovan.

He has five children, and worked closely with his son, John Jr. in all his companies and in John Jr's studies at Harvard and Yale. John Jr tragically died on April 25, 2015 after a battle with adrenal cancer.


  • Donovan, J. (1972) Systems Programming, McGraw-Hill[41]
  • Donovan, J. (1974) Operating Systems, McGraw-Hill [42]
  • Donovan, J. (1977) Software Projects: Pedagogical Aids for Software Education and Research, McGraw-Hill[43]
  • Donovan, J. (1990) Crisis in Technology: The Solution: Strategic Weapons and Tactics for Executives, Cambridge Technology Group[44]
  • Donovan, J. (1993) Business and technology : a Paradigm Shift, Cambridge Technology Group[45]
  • Donovan, J. (1994) Business Reengineering with Information Technology, Prentice Hall[46]
  • Donovan, J. (1997) The Second Industrial Revolution : Reinventing Your Business on the Web, Prentice Hall[47]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Sound Bytes: Three Careers and Counting New York Times, August 21, 1994
  3. ^ a b Yale PhD
  4. ^ Virtual Machine Communication for the Implementation of Decision Support SystemIEEE Transactions on Software Engineering,Vol. SE-3, No. 5, September 1977
  5. ^ John J. Donovan David A. Schultz Award Certificate
  6. ^ John J. Donovan Tenure Letter
  7. ^ Systems programmingLibrary of Congress Online Catalogue
  8. ^ Operating SystemsLibrary of Congress Online Catalogue
  9. ^ Library of Congress On-line Catalogue
  10. ^ Donovan Executive Seminar - About the Speaker
  11. ^ Second Industrial Revolution,Library of Congress Online Catalogue
  12. ^ Second Industrial RevolutionCover and Acknowledgments.
  13. ^ John J. Donovan Recognition Letter From Tufts Medical School 1974
  14. ^ John J. Donovan Recognition Letter From Tufts Medical School 1979
  15. ^ The Oralce e-business Executive Seminar Series Brochure,
  16. ^ AT&T - Cambridge Institute Information Systems Brochure
  17. ^ Cambridge Institute for Information Systems - Staff Members - 1986
  18. ^ Listening is important, but leading is the main job The Boston Globe, January 11, 2004.
  19. ^ Sound Bytes: Three Careers and Counting New York Times, August 21, 1994.
  20. ^ Still battling the bullies As John Donovan rolls out companies, he leaves behind both admirers and enemies The Boston Globe, June 30, 1996.
  21. ^ "Bermuda's world business leaders...". Retrieved 11 March 2016. 
  22. ^ Donovan talking about JPEN FOX 25 Morning News.
  23. ^ General Myers talking about JPEN on YouTube C-SPAN 2.
  24. ^ Computers to help in birth defect fightAssociated Press,June 14, 1978.
  25. ^ Birth defects information service begins operations at T-NEMCAssociated Press
  26. ^ A project to enlist computers in battle against birth defectsSan Francisco Examiner,June 14, 1978
  27. ^ New Birth Defect Computer System DemonstratedTech Talk,June 14, 1978
  28. ^ Donovan Family ScholarshipYale University
  29. ^ Brochure Children's Potential Unlimited
  30. ^ Harvard ID (2016)
  31. ^ John and Linda Donovan honored at Myopia Horse ShowHamilton-Wenham Chronicle, September 24, 2009.
  32. ^ Local News Salem News, September 7, 2009.
  33. ^ Donovan/Sagamore Hill temporarily closedEssex County Trail Association
  34. ^ Run for the Trails Muddy FunEssex County Trail Association,November 7, 2009
  35. ^ Community Recognizes Pomfret CoupleVermont Standard, Volume 156 - Number 36,September 11, 2009.
  36. ^ SendItLater
  37. ^ "Personal story of Professor John Donovan". 
  38. ^ MIT Entrepreneur Survives Execution-Style Shooting, InformationWeek, December 19, 2005
  39. ^ Millionaire Indicted for Making False Shooting Claim, Associated Press, May 4, 2006
  40. ^ Salem News November 6, 2010 article by Julie Manganis
  41. ^ "Systems programming". World Cat. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  42. ^ "Operating systems". World Cat. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  43. ^ "Software projects : pedagogical aids for software education and research". World Cat. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  44. ^ "Crisis in technology : the solution, strategic weapons and tactics for executives : handbook for implementing strategic advantage through technology". World Cat. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  45. ^ "Business and technology : a paradigm shift : strategic weapons and tactics for executives : handbook for implementing strategic advantage through technology". World Cat. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  46. ^ "Business re-engineering with information technology : sustaining your business advantage : an implementation guide". World Cat. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  47. ^ "The second industrial revolution : reinventing your business on the web". World Cat. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 

External links[edit]