Burrhus Frederic Skinner was born on the 20th March 1904 in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania; he died on the 18th August 1990 at Auburn Hospital, Cambridge Massachussetts.
The man whose name is synonymous with behaviourism became interested in the subject through the works of the American behavioural psychologist John B. Watson and the Russian physiologist Ivan P. Pavlov. But after graduating from Hamilton College in 1926, his first interest was not psychology. He first tried his hand at fiction and poetry before eventually concluding that his talents lay elsewhere.
Skinner earned his doctorate from Harvard University in 1931 and remained at that university as a researcher until 1936, investigating the adaptive behaviour of organisms to environmental stimuli. In 1937 he joined the University of Minnesota as an Assistant Professor; it was in Minnesota that he wrote his first major work, The Behavior of Organisms (1938), in which he presented the principles of operant conditioning. In 1945 he was appointed Professor at Indiana University; there he wrote Walden Two (1948), a utopian treatment of how society might be based on learning principles--simultaneously fulfilling his earlier ambitions in the field of literature. In 1948 Skinner returned to Harvard, where he remained until his death--some 16 years past his “retirement” in 1974.