Joseph Carl Robnett was the only child of Joseph Parron Licklider, a Baptist minister, and Margaret Robnett Licklider.
JCR 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.
JCR 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 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 1957, JCR 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 October 1962, he was appointed head of the Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) at DARPA, then called 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 outlining the early challenges presented in establishing 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.
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