• 1943
    (b.) -
    2015 April 02


An American social scientist, university professor, inventor, and pioneering technology entrepreneur, he was born in St. Louis, Missouri and educated at the University of the Americas in Mexico City, Washington University in St. Louis and Stanford University, where he received a Ph.D. in political science in 1971. While still a graduate student, he was faced with the daunting task of analyzing data from thousands of individual responses to a survey questionnaire he collected from seven nations with his advisor and mentor Sidney Verba. Together with two young computer scientists, C. Hadlai (?Tex?) Hull and Dale Bent, he invented a computer software package called the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) which automated the process of data analysis, allowing users to manipulate data files, transform data, and generate statistics on a mainframe computer. Originally invented to solve the problem of analyzing data for his dissertation, SPSS soon became widely used among other social scientists and researchers. Along with SAS, it revolutionized empirical social science. In the early years after SPSS?s invention, he and his colleagues shipped the software to users at cost. But as demand for the product (and its new features and accompanying documentation) expanded, he incorporated SPSS and became its president and CEO. He served in this position from the company?s founding in 1975 until 1992 and continued as Chairman of the Board and software design consultant until 2008. During the same period, he became one of the most prominent scholars in the field of U.S. politics, particularly the study of American political behavior and public opinion. His intellectual home for 30 years was the University of Chicago, where he took his first academic appointment in 1968. During his tenure, he was twice chairman of the department. He became emeritus at Chicago in 1998. In July 2009, IBM announced its agreement to purchase SPSS for $1.2 billion. In October 2009, Revolution Analytics (formerly REvolution Computing) announced that he would serve as its new CEO. The company provides commercial software & support for the popular open source R (programming language). His Chicago years saw the publication of four major books in political science, three of which won prizes of national recognition for scholarly excellence. His first book, written with Sidney Verba, was Participation in America (1972), which won the Gladys M. Kammerer Award, from the American Political Science Association (APSA) for the best book in U.S. national politics. Soon after, he wrote The Changing American Voter (1976) with Sidney Verba and John Petrocik. This major work went on to win the Woodrow Wilson Award from the APSA for the best book published in political science. Two years later, he co-authored a work of comparative politics with Sidney Verba and Jae-on Kim, Participation and Political Equality (1978). He reprised his Woodrow Wilson Award in 1996, winning the prize for Education and Democratic Citizenship in America, written with Jane Junn and Kenneth Stehlik-Barry. He has continued to innovate in the technology and tools field, co-founding the survey research firm Knowledge Networks (KN) with R. Douglas Rivers in 1997; He continues to serve as Chairman of the Board of KN. The company remains the only survey vendor to collect survey data over the Internet using probability samples, placing computers into homes that do not have Internet connectivity. He has also served as Chairman or board member for a number of high technology firms, including CustomerSat Inc., Vicinity, Lexiquest, and Captura. He is the recipient of awards for research and scholarly achievement as well as professional recognition. In 2006, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) for both his technological innovations in survey research and his substantive contributions to the understanding of social and political behavior. He was honored as the KPMG Technology Entrepreneur of the Year in 1986. In 2009, he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
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  • Date of Death:

    2015 April 02
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  • Noted For:

    Co-inventor of a computer software package called the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS)
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