In Memorium: Dr. Jack Ruina


by Michael Desmond, Reference Archivist

We wish to acknowledge the passing of Dr. Jack P. Ruina on February 4th, 2015 at the age of 91. From 1961 to 1963, Dr. Ruina served as Director of the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). As the head of ARPA, Ruina played a key role in the hiring of J.C.R. Licklider, who paved the way for the creation of ARPANET, a precursor to the Internet.


Jack Ruina (Source:

Jack Ruina, undated (Source:


Dr. Ruina was also responsible for the Ballistic Missile Defense Program and the Nuclear Test Detection Program (Project Vela). He described his role in the Ballistic Missile Defense Program in his first oral history interview for the Kennedy Library. His account of the Nuclear Test Detection Program can be found in his second oral history interview. This latter program led to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Dr. Ruina met twice with President Kennedy. The first meeting took place at the White House on November 22, 1961 as part of a group led by Jerome Wiesner (Special Assistant to the President for Science and Technology) to discuss the Nike-Zeus Missile System. The second meeting took place in Hyannis Port on November 24, 1961, again as part of a larger group discussing the Nike-Zeus Missile System.

Dr. Ruina served on the MIT faculty for more than thirty years. You can read more about his life and career on the MIT website, here.


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