Reflections on SAGE

The SAGE period was unique in the history of Lincoln Laboratory and the nation. Only a few other programs—the Radiation Laboratory and the Manhattan Project being two prominent examples—had given scientists and engineers such a focused and rewarding experience.

A key factor that contributed to the success of SAGE was that staff members had exactly what they needed: a goal and the funds to reach it. They were unencumbered by bureaucracy, and reports were infrequent. Management was spare, assignments were flexible, and getting the job done was the only agenda. This had been the style for the development of radar during World War II, was successfully adopted by Lincoln Laboratory for SAGE, and, to a large extent, is the style in practice at the Laboratory today.

For the individuals who participated in the SAGE program, it was a heady experience. Though they worked long hours, the camaraderie and the rapid progress kept morale high. The participants knew that they were contributing to something that had urgency and significance and that they were pushing the frontiers of radar, computer, and communications technology.

The success of SAGE stemmed from the contributions of many individuals acting together as a cohesive team with a common vision. For many of the individuals, however, the most memorable part of the program was simply the opportunity to participate. Reminiscences of that era are uniformly enthusiastic, and veterans of the SAGE development say that no other period in their lives was more personally or professionally rewarding.

The following people have graciously offered their reflections on the SAGE project. The videos linked at the right of their photographs will enable you to share their SAGE experiences. Questions on these videos should be directed to llwebmaster@ll.mit.edu.

Jay Forrester, early photo

Jay Forrester, 2010

Jay Forrester

Robert Everett, early photo

Robert Everett, 2010

Robert Everett

Judith Clapp, early photo

Judith Clapp, 2010

Judith Clapp

 

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