University of Cambridge, 4 Mill Ln, Cambridge CB2 1RZ
William Grey Walter (February 19, 1910 – May 6, 1977) was an American-born British neurophysiologist, cybernetician and robotician. He was part of the Cambridge Apostles.
Walter was born in Kansas City, Missouri, United States, in 1910. His ancestry was German/British on his father's side, and American/British on his mother's side. He was brought to England in 1915, and educated at Westminster School and afterwards in King's College, Cambridge, in 1931. He failed to obtain a research fellowship in Cambridge and so turned to doing basic and applied neurophysiological research in hospitals, in London, from 1935 to 1939 and then at the Burden Neurological Institute in Bristol, from 1939 to 1970. He also carried out research work in the United States, in the Soviet Union and in various other places in Europe. He married twice, had two sons from his first marriage, and one from the second. Walter's experiments with stroboscopic light, described in The Living Brain, inspired the development of a Dream Machine by the artist Brion Gysin and technician Ian Sommerville.
According to his eldest son, Nicolas Walter, "he was politically on the left, a communist fellow-traveller before the Second World War and an anarchist sympathiser after it." Throughout his life he was a pioneer in the field of cybernetics. In 1970, he suffered a brain injury in a motor scooter accident. He never fully recovered and died seven years later, on May 6, 1977.
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