Robert Everett was born in Yonkers, New York, in 1921. He received a BS from Duke University (1942) and an MS in electrical engineering (1943) from MIT.
Upon graduation, Everett joined the staff of MIT's Servomechanisms Laboratory, where he became associated with Jay W. Forrester in the development of the Whirlwind computer. Whirlwind's groundbreaking design laid the foundation for dozens of practical improvements in computer design, and formed the basis for the US Air Force's Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) air defense system.
In 1956, he was placed in charge of SAGE air defense system design and testing and also directed data processing research and development. This work led directly to the founding of the MITRE Corporation, a not-for-profit corporation formed to provide the US Air Force with ongoing systems engineering support for North American air defense.
From 1956 to 1958, he was MITRE's technical director. In 1959, he was named vice president of technical operations and became executive vice president in 1969. From 1969 to 1986, Everett served as president of MITRE.
Everett is a Fellow of IEEE and a member of the UA National Academy of Engineering. In 1989, he received the U.S. National Medal of Technology.