digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















For other people named Robert Taylor, see Robert Taylor (disambiguation).
Robert William Taylor
Born 1932
Dallas, Texas
Fields Computer science
Institutions ARPA
Xerox PARC
Digital Equipment Corporation
Alma mater Southern Methodist University
University of Texas
Known for Internet pioneer
Computer networking & Communication systems
Modern personal computing
Notable awards ACM Software Systems Award (1984)
ACM Fellow (1994)
National Medal of Technology and Innovation (1999)
Charles Stark Draper Prize (2004)
Computer History Museum Fellow (2013) [1]

Robert William Taylor (born 1932), known as Bob Taylor, is an Internet pioneer, who led teams that made major contributions to the personal computer, and other related technologies. He was director of ARPA's Information Processing Techniques Office from 1965 through 1969, founder and later manager of Xerox PARC's Computer Science Laboratory from 1970 through 1983, and founder and manager of Digital Equipment Corporation's Systems Research Center until 1996.[2]

His awards include the National Medal of Technology and Innovation and the Draper Prize.[3] Taylor is known for his high-level vision: "The Internet is not about technology; it's about communication. The Internet connects people who have shared interests, ideas and needs, regardless of geography."[3]

Early life[edit]

Robert W. Taylor was born in Dallas, Texas in 1932.[4] His adoptive father was a Methodist minister and the family spent an itinerant childhood, moving from parish to parish. He started at Southern Methodist University at 16, served a stint in the Navy during the Korean War, and went back to school at the University of Texas under the GI Bill. At UT he was a "professional student," he says, taking courses for pleasure. He finally put them together for a degree in experimental psychology, with minors in math, philosophy, English and religion. While Taylor was trained as an experimental psychologist and mathematician his earliest career was devoted to brain research and the auditory nervous system.

Taylor taught math and coached basketball at a co-ed prep school in Florida. "I had a wonderful time but was very poor, with a second child -- who turned out to be twins -- on the way," he says.

Taylor took engineering jobs with aircraft companies at better salaries. After working for defense contractor Martin Marietta, he was invited to join NASA in 1961 after submitting a research proposal for a flight-control simulation display.

Computer career[edit]

Taylor worked for NASA in Washington, DC while the Kennedy administration was backing scientific projects such as the Apollo program for a manned moon landing. In late 1962 Taylor met J.C.R. Licklider, who was heading the new Information Processing Techniques Office of the Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA) of the United States Department of Defense. Licklider had done his graduate work in psychoacoustics as Taylor, and wrote an article in 1960 envisioning new ways to use computers.[5]

He met another visionary, Douglas Engelbart, at the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, California. Taylor directed funding to Engelbart's studies of computer-display technology at SRI that led to the computer mouse. The public demonstration of a mouse-based user interface was later called "the Mother of All Demos." At the 1968 Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco, Engelbart, Bill English, Jeff Rulifson and the rest of the Human Augmentation Research Center team at SRI showed on a big screen how he could manipulate a computer remotely located in Menlo Park, while sitting on a San Francisco stage, using his mouse.[6]


In 1965 Taylor moved from N.A.S.A to ARPA, first as a deputy to Ivan Sutherland to fund a few large programs in advanced research in computing at major universities and corporate research centers throughout the US. Among the computer projects that ARPA supported was time-sharing, in which many users could work at terminals to share a single large computer. Users could work interactively instead of using punched cards or punched tape in a batch processing style. Taylor's office in the Pentagon had a terminal connected to time-sharing at MIT, a terminal connected to the Berkeley Timesharing System at the University of California at Berkeley, and a third terminal to the System Development Corporation in Santa Monica, California. He noticed each system developed a community of users, but was isolated from the other communities.[6]

Taylor hoped to build a computer network to connect the ARPA-sponsored projects together, if nothing else to let him communicate to all of them through one terminal. Sutherland returned to a teaching position, and by June 1966 Taylor was officially director of IPTO. Taylor had convinced ARPA's Director Charles M. Herzfeld to fund a network project earlier in February 1966, and hired Lawrence G. Roberts from MIT's Lincoln Laboratory to be its first program manager. Roberts first resisted moving to Washington DC, until Herzfeld reminded the director of Lincoln Laboratory that ARPA dominated its funding.[7] Licklider continued to provide guidance, and Wesley A. Clark suggested the use of a dedicated computer, called the Interface Message Processor at each node of the network instead of centralized control. ARPA issued a request for quotation (RFQ) to build the system, which was awarded to Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN). ATT Bell Labs and IBM Research were invited to join, but were not interested. At a pivotal meeting in 1967 most participants resisted testing the new network; they thought it would slow down their research.

A second paper, "The Computer as a Communication Device" published in 1968 by Licklider and Taylor, lays out the future of what the Internet would eventually become.[8] Their paper starts out: "In a few years, men will be able to communicate more effectively through a machine than face to face."[8] The vision would take more than "a few years".

At some point Taylor was sent by ARPA to investigate inconsistent reports coming from the Vietnam War. Only about 35 years old, he was given the military rank equivalent to his civilian position: brigadier general, and made several trips to the area. He helped set up a computer center at the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam base in Saigon. In his words: "After that the White House got a single report rather than several. That pleased them; whether the data was any more correct or not, I don't know, but at least it was more consistent."[7] The Vietnam project took him away from directing research, and "by 1969 I knew ARPAnet would work. So I wanted to leave."[7]

Roberts was promoted to IPTO director, and continued to oversee the ARPANET project. For about a year Taylor joined Sutherland and David C. Evans at the University of Utah, where he had funded a center for research on computer graphics while at ARPA. In 1970 Taylor moved to Palo Alto, California for his next historic job.


Jerome I. Elkind from BBN was hired by George Pake to co-manage the Computer Systems Laboratory (CSL) at the new Palo Alto Research Center of Xerox Corporation.[9] Taylor assumed he would run day-to-day operations, while Elkind assumed Taylor would be associate director.

Technologies developed at PARC between 1970 and 1983 focused on reaching beyond ARPAnet to develop what has become the Internet, and the systems that support today's personal computers. They included:

  • Ethernet, which networks local computers within a building or campus; and the first Internet, a network that connected the Ethernet to the ARPAnet utilizing PUP (PARC Universal Protocol), forerunner to TCP/IP.
  • The electronics and software that led to the laser printer and the graphical programs that allowed John Warnock and Chuck Geschke to take off and found Adobe Systems.

Elkind was involved in a number of corporate and government projects. After one of Elkind's extended absences, Taylor became the official manager of the laboratory in early 1978. In 1983, integrated circuit specialist William J. Spencer became director of PARC. Spencer blamed Taylor for the failure of Xerox's own commercialization efforts.[10] Taylor and most of the researchers at CSL left Xerox.

DEC SRC[edit]

Taylor was hired by Ken Olsen of Digital Equipment Corporation, and formed the Systems Research Center in Palo Alto. Many of the former CSL researchers came to work at SRC. Among the projects at SRC were the Modula-3 programming language; the snoopy cache, used in the Firefly multiprocessor workstation; the first multi-threaded Unix system; the first User Interface editor; and a networked Window System.


Taylor retired in 1996 and lives in Woodside, California. In 2000 he voiced two concerns about the future of the Internet: control and access. In his words:

There are many worse ways of endangering a larger number of people on the Internet than on the highway. It's possible for people to generate networks that reproduce themselves and are very difficult or impossible to kill off. I want everyone to have the right to use it, but there's got to be some way to insure responsibility.

Will it be freely available to everyone? If not, it will be a big disappointment.[3]


In 1984, Taylor, Butler Lampson, and Charles P. Thacker received the ACM Software Systems Award "For conceiving and guiding the development of the Xerox Alto System demonstrating that a distributed personal computer system can provide a desirable and practical alternative to time-sharing." In 1994, all three were named ACM Fellows in recognition of the same work. In 1999, Taylor received a National Medal of Technology and Innovation. The citation read "For visionary leadership in the development of modern computing technology, including computer networks, the personal computer and the graphical user interface."[11]

In 2004, the National Academy of Engineering awarded him along with Lampson, Thacker and Alan Kay their highest award, the Draper Prize. The citation reads: "for the vision, conception, and development of the first practical networked personal computers."

In 2013, the Computer History Museum named him a Museum Fellow, "for his leadership in the development of computer networking, online information and communications systems, and modern personal computing."[12]


  1. ^ Robert W. Taylor 2013 Fellow
  2. ^ John Naughton (October 5, 200). A Brief History of the Future: Origins of the Internet. Phoenix. ISBN 978-0-7538-1093-4.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ a b c Marion Softky (October 11, 2000). "Building the Internet: Bob Taylor won the National Medal of Technology "For visionary leadership in the development of modern computing technology"". The California Almanac. Retrieved March 30, 2011. 
  4. ^ Gary Susswein (September 14, 2009). "Internet and use of the computer as communication device the 1960s brainchild of psychology alum". University of Texas Alumni profile. Retrieved March 30, 2011. 
  5. ^ J.C.R. Licklider (March 1960). "Man-Computer Symbiosis". IRE Transactions on Human Factors in Electronics. HFE-1: 4–11. 
  6. ^ a b John Markoff (December 20, 1999). "An Internet Pioneer Ponders the Next Revolution". New York Times. 
  7. ^ a b c "Oral history interview with Robert William Taylor". Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota. Retrieved April 1, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b J.C.R. Licklider; Robert Taylor (April 1968). "The Computer as a Communication Device". Science and Technology. 
  9. ^ Butler W. Lampson (January 1986). "Personal Distributed Computing: The Alto and Ethernet Software". ACM Conference on the History of Personal Workstations (Palo Alto). 
  10. ^ Henry Chesbrough (Winter 2002). "Graceful Exits and Missed Opportunities: Xerox's Management of Its Technology Spin-off Organizations". The Business History Review 76 (4): 803–837. 
  11. ^ "The National Medal of Technology and Innovation Recipients". US Patent and Trademark Office. 1999. Retrieved March 30, 2011. 
  12. ^ CHM. "Robert W. Taylor — CHM Fellow Award Winner". Retrieved March 30, 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Taylor_(computer_scientist) — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
6512 videos foundNext > 

Robert Taylor U.S. Computer Scientist Quantum Physicist

http://www.reverbnation.com/alphaanalyticalgrovenumericx Anomalous experiments in over-the-horizon science and technology.

Bob Taylor (internet visionary) talks at UT Austin

Bob Taylor was the first project manager and person most responsible for the creation of the first national network -- the ARPAnet -- which is universally regarded as the precursor to today's...

Oral History of Robert "Bob" Metcalfe, Part 1

Interviewed by Len Shustek on November 29, 2006, in Boston Massachusetts, X3819.2007 © Computer History Museum Robert (Bob) Metcalfe led invention, standardization, and commercialization...

Bob Metcalfe - Internet Pioneer / Entrepreneur

[Recorded: March 10, 2009] Bob Metcalfe led invention, standardization, and commercialization of the Ethernet local-area networking system for personal computers (PCs). Metcalfe was born...

Robert Taylor: Network Visionary

[Recorded May 13, 2010] Bob Taylor planned to be a Methodist minister like his father. Instead, he became an evangelist for an idea that changed the world: easy-to-use computers that talk...

Robert P Taylor Memorial at Riverside Church

From Teachers College website. Robert Taylor (Ed. D. '70), a digital pioneer who founded TC's Computing in Education Program in 1976 -- one of the first such graduate programs in the world...

Thanks For The Memories (part 1) Memoirs of Bob Hope's and Henry Kissinger's Mind-Controlled Slave

Thanks For The Memories ... The Truth Has Set Me Free! The Memoirs of Bob Hope's and Henry Kissinger's Mind-Controlled Slave by Brice Taylor part 1: http://youtu.be/G5hSE_IOVTQ Part 2: http://yout.

CSE Animation Projects: Escape!

Semester animation project from the Computer Science & Engineering department at Taylor University. Project name: Escape! Story line: When computer programs become conflicted when a virus...

Robert J. Fornaro receives 2013 Computer Science and Engineering Undergraduate Teaching Award

The IEEE Computer Society presented its 2013 Computer Science and Engineering Undergraduate Teaching Award to Robert J. Fornaro for outstanding teaching and mentoring of undergraduate ...

Cracking the code: Push to teach computer science in classrooms

Several leading names in the tech industry are urging California Gov. Jerry Brown to make a meaningful investment in computer science education. Michelle Miller reports on why it's part of...

6512 videos foundNext > 

We're sorry, but there's no news about "Robert Taylor (computer scientist)" right now.


Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!

Searchlight Group

Digplanet also receives support from Searchlight Group. Visit Searchlight