[SIGCIS-Members] Death of Robert R. Everett

Deborah Douglas ddouglas at mit.edu
Thu Aug 16 05:58:37 PDT 2018

Just last week at the MIT Archives, I was examining Bob Everett’s notebooks in which he sketched out the block diagrams for the Whirlwind I computer.  It was fascinating to see his thought processes in action; how he approached to overarching design of this early computer and synthesized the information and ideas of his project colleagues.  Having had the opportunity to meet Bob on several occasions since coming to MIT in 1999, I was very sorry to learn of his death yesterday.  I have attached the announcement that was sent to MITRE alumni.

Debbie Douglas

Web version<https://handshake.mitre.org/activity/groups_and_friends>

Marcia Jaynes<https://handshake.mitre.org/profile/mitre-mjaynes> has posted a new discussion topic in the group MITRE Alumni<https://handshake.mitre.org/groups/profile/14100/mitre-alumni>:

In Memory: Robert R. Everett<https://handshake.mitre.org/discussion/view/15207275/in-memory-robert-r-everett>
Robert R. Everett, MITRE’s third President and CEO—and the first MITRE employee to rise to that position from within—passed away on August 15 on Cape Cod, Mass, according to his family. He was 97.
Everett served as president and CEO from April 1969 to July 1986. His tenure was a period of sustained growth and change for MITRE. Though the company expanded beyond its primary task for its Air Force sponsor to contribute to the fields of command, control, and communications systems; a national air traffic control system; and a national ground transportation system, it maintained a critical role in the Air Force’s air defense program. During Everett’s tenure, MITRE was one of 16 recipients of the Air Force Pioneer Award, which honored outstanding organizations that have made significant contributions to the Air Force.
“Bob was a pioneer in the field of electrical engineering, and his influence helped shape MITRE into what it is today,” said Jason Providakes, MITRE’s President and CEO. “Throughout MITRE’s early years, Bob’s guidance helped MITRE to grow and evolve while always ensuring sound technical performance.”
Born on June 26, 1921 in Yonkers, New York, Everett graduated from Duke University in 1942. In 1943, he received a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). That same year, Everett joined MIT’s Servomechanisms Laboratory, where he developed hydraulic servomechanisms for stabilized shipboard radar antennas.
In 1945, he and Jay W. Forrester of MIT began work on Project Whirlwind, a Navy program to develop a computer to study aircraft stability and control problems. Their research resulted in "Whirlwind I," the first digital computer at MIT and the fastest of its time. Mr. Everett and Mr. Forrester later demonstrated Whirlwind for Project Charles, which was established to recommend an air defense system. Those demonstrations led to the founding of MIT Lincoln Laboratory and the development of the Air Force's Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) air defense system. In 1947, part of MIT's Digital Computer Laboratory joined Lincoln Laboratory as Division VI. Mr. Everett was named associate head of the Division and in 1956 became its head. He was responsible for SAGE system design and test and directed Lincoln’s data processing R&D.
When MITRE was founded in 1958, Everett became its first technical director, rising to become the first vice president of technical operations the following year. In 1969 he was named MITRE’s first executive vice president; he became president later that same year when John McLucas left MITRE to become Undersecretary of the Air Force.
Under Everett’s leadership, MITRE expanded its technical program and expertise beyond its original mission of helping the Air Force implement SAGE. During this period, MITRE began to work for government agencies beyond the Air Force, including the Department of Defense (DoD), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other agencies.
Everett received many awards and commendations for his scientific work, including the Duke University Distinguished Alumnus Award (1978); the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service (1983); the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association Gold Medal Award for Engineering (1985); the National Medal of Technology (1990); and the Eugene G. Fubini Award for outstanding contributions to the Department of Defense (2008). Throughout his career he served on several government advisory committees, including a term as chairman of the Defense Science Board from 1988 to 1989.
Everett’s research has been published in numerous technical journals, and he was awarded several patents in the fields of magnetic drum memories and display devices. He continued to serve as a MITRE Honorary Trustee until his death.
Honoring Robert Everett
Everett leaves behind his wife, Ann T. Everett; sons Robert, Bruce, Ted, Doug, Michael, and David; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
The family will hold a private memorial service. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Robert R. and Ann T. Everett Endowment Fund at Duke University. The fund’s purpose is to keep undergraduate laboratory facilities in the Edmund T. Pratt School of Engineering fully equipped with appropriate teaching and research instrumentation. Learn more about how to donate to the fund here<https://giving.duke.edu/ways-to-give/gift-planning/>.
• Read more about Everett and his distinguished career in Corporate Archives’ Presidents of MITRE Exhibit<https://communityshare.mitre.org/sites/recordsarchives/WebPages/exhibitions/presidents/everett.html>.
• Watch an interview with Everett as part of MITRE’s Wisdom Project<https://mmcrev.mitre.org/#/videos/e53d23e0-3ff1-492c-a7c5-e766ff0158d7>.
--Corporate Archives and MITRE News Center

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Wednesday, August 15, 4:08 PM

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