Photo of Jay Wright Forrester

Jay Wright Forrester

  • National Medal of Technology and Innovation
  • Computer Science

For their creative work in developing the technologies and applying computers to real-time applications. Their important contributions proved vital to national and free world defense and opened a new era of world business.

Jay Wright Forrester has always been a problem solver. He grew up on a Nebraska farm that had no electricity – until as a high schooler he built a wind-driven 12-volt system that provided power.

Wright earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Nebraska, then left home for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received a master’s degree and spent a long, productive career as a professor. Early on during his time at MIT, Wright was involved in computer and electrical engineering research. He is a member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame and invented random-access magnetic-core memory for computers.

But after joining MIT’s Sloan School of Management in 1956, Wright’s studies moved in another direction. He developed “system dynamics,’’ which uses computer-based models to study and predict complex organizations and systems. His first book, Industrial Dynamics in 1961, used system dynamics to predict business cycles. Later he would apply the science to public policy in Urban Dynamics, which sparked the interest of urban planners. A global look, World Dynamics, followed that.

Forrester’s system dynamics is widely used in applications all over the world.

By Robert Warren