March 11, 1915–June 26, 1990
BY ROBERT M. FANO
JOSEPH CARL ROBNETT LICKLIDER was known as Lick to family, friends, colleagues, and almost everybody else; I will refer to him informally as Lick, as he would have wanted. At the time of his death he was a member of the Engineering Section of the National Academy of Sciences, elected in 1969, and a professor emeritus of computer science in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and a member of the Laboratory for Computer Science of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was an imaginative experimenter and theoretician, an intellectual leader, and a visionary, who left major marks in two distinct fields: psychoacoustics and computer science.
Lick was born on March 11, 1915, in St. Louis, Missouri, the only son of Joseph Parron Licklider, a Baptist minister, and Margaret Robnett Licklider. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with majors in psychology, mathematics, and physics in 1937, and was awarded an M.A. degree in psychology the following year. He continued his graduate studies in psychology at the University of Rochester, where he received a Ph.D. degree in 1942.
Lick's Ph.D. research at the University of Rochester was an experimental investigation of the “place” and “frequency