Fred Attneave was born on March 25, 1919 in Greenwood, Mississippi. He graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1942 with a double major in Psychology and English. Attneave was drafted into the army and served as an officer in the Army Signal Corps for three years in the Pacific theatre working on radio and teletype installations.
After the Army, Attneave entered graduate school at Stanford University and received his Ph.D. in psychology in 1949. He returned to Mississippi and spent two years teaching in the psychology department at the University of Mississippi. Attneave then moved to San Antonio to do full-time research in the Air Force Personnel Training and Research Center, an organization that gave him considerable freedom to develop his own ideas.
After one year (1956-1957) as a Fellow at the Center of Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and one year as a Visiting Associate Professor (1957-1958) at the University of California at Berkeley he came to the University of Oregon. At Oregon, he published a series of papers, chapters, and a book on the applications of information theory to Psychology that brought him an international reputation. He established Oregon as a center for perceptual research. Attneave retired from the psychology department in 1985.
Attneave died at his home on December 24th, 1991.
From the guide to the Fred Attneave papers, 1949-1991, (Center for the History of Psychology)