Oral history interview with Robert M. Hayes

Oral history interview with Robert M. Hayes

  • 2001-Feb-26
Photograph of Robert M. Hayes

Robert M. Hayes begins the interview with a discussion of his father's and his stepfather's affect on his life. He describes how he traveled frequently because of his stepfather's acting career, attending over sixteen different high schools before receiving his diploma. Hayes graduated from UCLA in 1947 with a BA in mathematics, and afterwards was drafted into the Navy. He recounts his acceptance into the Navy's V-12 program, and the courses he took for that program at the University of Colorado at Boulder. After the War, Hayes returned to UCLA, where he earned his MA in mathematics in 1949, and his PhD in mathematics in 1952. While earning his PhD , Hayes worked on information science at the National Bureau of Standards. In 1952, he decided to move into industry, and was hired at Hughes Aircraft. He describes his work at Hughes, where he programmed a computer to fly an airplane. Further, he recounts his teaching responsibilities in UCLA's University-extension program, which he continued in parallel with his experiences at Hughes. In 1954, Hayes began working at the National Cash Register Company, and a year later he moved to Magnavox Research Labs. He discusses the important developments in information storage and retrieval at Magnavox, such as the Minicard and the Magnacard systems, and his realization that his efforts at Magnavox could be taught to students. Eventually, Hayes was teaching at locations all over the United States, including American University, the University of Washington, and Wright Patterson Air Force Base. In 1960, Hayes was invited to join the Electrada Corporation, which he did, as vice-president. Hayes relates how, soon after joining Electrada, he and John Postley created Advanced Information Systems as a subsidiary of Electrada. Hayes also explains why he became a fulltime professor at UCLA at that time, and discusses his roles in the formation of the School of Library Service and the Institute for Library Research. In 1969, Joseph Becker and Robert Hayes started Becker and Hayes Incorporated, with the purpose of creating an interlibrary network for the State of Washington. Hayes discusses the obstacles he and Becker overcame to accomplish that task, and goes on to recount his work with NCLIS and the SILC system. Hayes concludes the interview with his interpretation of the relationship between information science and library science, and the importance of libraries and librarians.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 27 pages
  • 1 h 27 m 35 s
Rights Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
Rights holder
  • Science History Institute
Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute

About the Interviewer

Colin B. Burke had recently retired from the history department at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County and held a research fellowship at Yale University when he came to CHF. He spent his residency working on his book on the history of computer-based scientific information systems and related government policies, from the 1950s through the early 1990s. He received his PhD from Washington University in St. Louis and currently serves as associate professor emeritus at the University of Maryland. He also served as a Fulbright Scholar in Poland and as a scholar-in-residence at the National Security Agency.

Physical location

Oral history number 0217

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • December 03, 1926
  • New York, New York, United States
  • February 12, 2022


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1947 University of California, Los Angeles BA Mathematics
1949 University of California, Los Angeles MA Mathematics
1952 University of California, Los Angeles PhD Mathematics

Professional Experience

United States. National Bureau of Standards

  • 1949 to 1952 Mathematician

Hughes Aircraft Company

  • 1952 to 1954 Technical Staff Member

National Cash Register Company

  • 1954 to 1955 Applications Division

University of California, Los Angeles

  • 1954 to 1964 Adjunct Lecturer
  • 1965 to 1970 Director, Institute for Library Research
  • 1974 to 1989 Dean, Graduate School of Library Service, School of Library and Information Science

Magnavox Corporation

  • 1955 to 1960 Head of the Business Systems Group

American University (Washington, D.C.)

  • 1959 to 1960 Visiting Lecturer

Advanced Information Systems, Inc

  • 1960 to 1962 President

University of Washington

  • 1960 to 1962 Visiting Lecturer

Electrada, Incorporated

  • 1960 to 1963 Vice-President and Research Director

Becker and Hayes

  • 1969 to 1973 Vice-President
  • 1993 to 1996 Vice-President

University of Illinois at Chicago

  • 1970 Windsor Lecturer

White House Conference on Library and Information Services

  • 1979 Advisory Council Member

University of New South Wales

  • 1979 Visiting Professor
  • 1994 Visiting Professor

Japanese Universities

  • 1987 Visiting Professor
  • 1994 Visiting Professor

Loughborough University

  • 1989 Visiting Professor

Online Computer Library Center, Incorporated

  • 1990 Consultant

Xäzär Universitäsi

  • 1994 Visiting Professor


Year(s) Award
1971 Best Information Science Book Award, ASIS
1985 Beta Phi Mu Award, American Library Association
1986 Professional Achievement Award, UCLA Alumni Association
1990 First Tezak Award, University of Zagreb, Croatia
1993 Award of Merit, American Library Association

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The published version of the transcript may diverge from the interview audio due to edits to the transcript made by staff of the Center for Oral History, often at the request of the interviewee, during the transcript review process.

Complete Interview Audio File Web-quality download

3 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads