Robert R. Everett, a pioneer in the field of electronic computing, former President and CEO of the MITRE Corporation, and prominent member of the defense technology community, passed away on August 15 on Cape Cod, Massachusetts after a brief illness. He was 97.
Born on June 26, 1921 in Yonkers, New York, to Chester and Ruth Everett, he graduated at the top of his class from Duke University in 1942. In 1943, he received a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and joined MIT’s Servomechanisms Laboratory, where he engaged in critical wartime work, including development of hydraulic servomechanisms for stabilized shipboard radar antennas.
In 1945, he and Dr. Jay Forrester of MIT began work on "Whirlwind I," the first digital computer at MIT and the fastest of its time. The Whirlwind Project led to the founding of MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and the development of the Air Force's Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) air defense system. In 1947, Everett joined Lincoln Lab and in 1956 became head of its Division VI, responsible for SAGE system design and testing.
When MITRE was established in 1958, Everett became its Technical Director. In 1969, he was named MITRE’s President, remaining in that position until his retirement in 1986, after which he continued to serve as a Director and Honorary Director on MITRE’s Board until his death.
Everett received many awards for his scientific work, including the National Medal of Technology in 1990 and the Eugene G. Fubini Award in 2008 for contributions to the Department of Defense. Throughout his career he served on numerous government and non-governmental boards and advisory committees, including a term as chairman of the Defense Science Board from 1988 to 1989.
In addition to his technical contributions, Everett pursued interests in many areas, particularly history. He was an avid reader and took great joy in serious conversations. He will be remembered for his quick wit and generous spirit.
Everett leaves behind his wife Ann and sons Robert, Bruce, Douglas, Theodore, Michael, and David. He is also survived by six grandchildren, Ryan, Brendan, Matthew, Meghan, Catherine, and Morgan, and four great-grandchildren, Olivia, Benjamin, Caroline, and Ethan.
Funeral services will be private. In his memory, donations may be made to the Robert and Ann Everett Endowment Fund at Duke University, which keeps laboratories in the Edmund T. Pratt School of Engineering fully equipped. Please mail donations in the form of a check to The Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University, 305 Teer Engineering Building, Box 90271, Durham, NC 27708, Attention Senior Associate Dean Carr.