John McCarthy

Interview Location: United States

Interview Synopsis

In this interview, McCarthy discusses his career in computer science and his contributions to the field of Artificial Intelligence. He outlines his assignments and research projects at Dartmouth, Princeton, Stanford, and MIT. Additionally, he reflects on the various collaborations and interactions throughout his career, the relationship between AI and Robotics, and the challenges of the field, as well as provides advice for young people interested in artificial intelligence and robotics.


John McCarthy was born in Boston, Massachusetts on September 4, 1927. He earned a B.S. in mathematics at Cal Tech in 1947 and a Ph.D. in mathematics at Princeton in 1951. A computer scientist, McCarthy helped pioneer the field of Artificial Intelligence, even being widely credited for coining the term. He served as faculty member at Princeton, Stanford,and MIT, before becoming a professor at Stanford in 1962, where he remained until his retirement in 2000. His research work, such as the Chess-playing program at Dartmouth and creation of the programming language LISP, his development of computer time-sharing, and the establishment of AI labs at MIT and Dartmouth have led him to several awards, including the 1971 Turing Award and the 1991 National Medal of Science.   John McCarthy died on October 24, 2011 from heart disease complications at the age of 84, only a few months after recording this oral history.