The Many Careers of Jay Forrester

All the pictures in this album are taken from the article title “The many careers of Jay Forrester” that was published in the MIT Technology Review in June, 2015.

Forrester's Horse

The Forrester homestead, about 1940, with Forrester’s horse, Roany, in the foreground. The concrete-block house on the left was built around 1911; structures on the right housed horses and cattle. On the skyline are three towers: the windmill for pumping water (left), the 12-volt DC plant (right) that Forrester built while a senior in high school, and the 110-volt DC commercial electric wind plant (middle) that superseded it. Under the Rural Electrification Act, wind electricity was replaced by a power line.

On the frontier

Forrester and Red on the family’s cattle ranch in the Nebraska Sandhills in 1940.

Wind-electric plant

A close-up view of the 12-volt wind-electric plant (right) that Forrester built in high school and the windmill (left) that pumped water.

One-room country school

Forrester rode a horse to this one-room country school. The barn in the foreground is for the children’s horses. Outhouses and the coal shed are behind the school.

Jay and Susan

Jay Forrester and his wife, Susan Forrester, on the Forrester cattle ranch about 1957.


Forrester, his mother Ethel Wright Forrester, his sister Barbara, and his father, who was known as Duke, are shown in 1935 sharing a box of Duke’s favorite candy, Bauer Russian Mints.

Random-access magnetic-core computer memory

Forrester holds a plane from the random-access magnetic-core computer memory that he invented and that was the basis for the first wave of digital computers from 1955 to around 1985.

Forrester (left) and Stephen Dodd

Forrester (left) and Stephen Dodd examine a radio tube developed in MIT’s Servomechanisms Lab capable of storing up to 400 digits of memory. Initially, the Whirlwind computer relied on vacuum-tube memory. A News Service caption accompanying the photo noted that “The new tube, literally a storehouse for numbers, is expected to be an important component of many computers and other mechanical information-handling systems.”

The Whirlwind console room

The Whirlwind console room in 1950. Seated at left: Stephen Dodd, Jr. Standing: Jay Forrester (left) and Robert Everett (right). Seated at the right: Ramona Ferenz.

Computing pioneer Jay Forrester

Jay Forrester, in front of Whirlwind in the MIT Digital Computer Lab, is interviewed by Boston’s Channel 7 in 1957.

First digital computer at MIT

Whirlwind, the first digital computer at MIT. “Some houses have walk-in closets; we had a walk-in computer,” says Forrester, with Norman Taylor at left, circa 1951.

Forrester in the classroom

On his way

Real-time digital feedback controls, directly descended from innovations Jay helped pioneer. Photo: Dan Bricklin. All rights reserved.