Photo of Robert W. Taylor

Robert W. Taylor

  • National Medal of Technology and Innovation
  • Computer Science

For visionary leadership in the development of modern computing technology, including computer networks, the personal computer and the graphical user interface.

Robert Taylor planned to be a minister when he was young, but as he grew older found a higher calling through his love of computers. That’s lucky for us — Taylor’s work at the Department of Defense (DoD) and Xerox Corp. served as the preliminary building blocks for the Internet and much of the technology we enjoy today.

After a brief stint at NASA, Taylor directed the information-processing unit of the DoD’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) from 1966 to 1969. He was primarily interested in computers for their communication potential, and during that time oversaw the launch of ARPANET, the first computer network and a precursor to the Internet.

In 1970, Taylor founded the Computer Science Laboratory (CSL) at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) where he and his team developed Ethernet, enabling the development of local area networks (LANs). The CSL team also is credited with creating the first laser printer and the PARC Universal Packet (PUP) protocol, or computer language, the forerunner of the TCP/IP internet protocol.

By Lauren Clason