Photo of Robert Everett

Robert Everett

  • 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.

Robert Everett and Jay Forrester met as graduate students in electrical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Together, they pioneered the development of one of the world’s first real-time digital computers.

In 1944, the U.S. Navy contracted Forrester and Everett to develop a universal flight trainer and aircraft simulator. At the time, analog computers required days to work on calculations, and they knew analog computers were not suitable for the task. They developed a fast, dependable digital computer, known as Whirlwind.

Whirlwind’s groundbreaking design laid the foundation for dozens of improvements in computer design, and formed the basis for the U.S. Air Force’s Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) air defense system. Whirlwind also laid the groundwork for computers that today control air traffic, operate real-time reservations and banking systems, and keep track of records.

By Jen Santisi