Robert W. Taylor received the National Medal of Technology from the Nation's President in 1999. The citation reads: "For visionary leadership in the development of modern computing technology, including initiation of the ARPAnet project - forerunner of today's internet -- and advancing groundbreaking achievements in the development of the personal computer and computer networks".
In 2004 the National Academy of Engineering awarded him the Draper Prize for, "the vision, conception, and development of the principles for, and their effective integration in, the world's first practical networked personal computers".
Taylor retired in 1996 as founding director of Digital Equipment Corporation's System Research Center (SRC) in Palo Alto, California. SRC was created in 1984 and was best known for advancing distributed, personal computing: the style of information processing that utilizes local area networks, interconnecting personal workstations and community servers.
In 1970, he started the Computer Science Laboratory of the Xerox PaloAlto Research Center. Through the 1970's, the researchers in his laboratory were responsible for a number of innovations. They designed, built, and used the first distributed, personal computing system. This work included the invention of the Ethernet, the first networked personal computer with a graphical user interface, the first WYSIWYG editor, and the first laser printer.
In the period 1965-69, Taylor was director of ARPA's computer research program which funded most of the U.S. computer systems research at the time. The ARPA program he directed was best-known for sponsoring the initiation of interactive computing and the ARPANet, and for funding the research base that was necessary to the creation of the nation's first, PhD granting, computer science departments.