Robert Allan Monroe, also known as Bob Monroe (October 30, 1915 – March 17, 1995), was a New York radio broadcasting executive who became known for his research into altered consciousness. His 1971 book Journeys Out of the Body is credited with popularizing the term "out-of-body experience".
Monroe achieved world-wide recognition as an explorer of human consciousness. His research, beginning in the 1950s, produced evidence that specific sound patterns have identifiable, beneficial effects on our capabilities. For example, certain combinations of frequencies appeared to enhance alertness; others to induce sleep; and still others to evoke expanded states of consciousness.
Assisted by specialists in psychology, medicine, biochemistry, psychiatry, electrical engineering, physics, and education, Robert Monroe developed Hemi-Sync, a patented audio technology that is claimed to facilitate enhanced performance.
He is also notable as one of the founders of the Jefferson Cable Corporation, the first cable company to cover central Virginia.
Robert Allan Monroe was born in Indiana, weighing twelve pounds. He grew up in Lexington, Kentucky and Columbus, Ohio; his mother, Georgia Helen Jordan Monroe, was a non-practicing medical doctor and cellist and piano player. His father, Robert Emmett Monroe, was a college professor of Romance Languages who led tours in Europe in the summers. Monroe had two older sisters, Dorothy and Peggy, and a younger brother, Emmett, who became a medical doctor.
According to his third book "Ultimate Journey", he dropped out of Ohio State University in his sophomore year due to a hospital stay for a facial burn that caused him to fall behind in his studies. During almost a year away from college, a desire to find work led him to become a hobo who rode freight trains. He returned to college Ohio State to graduate after having studied pre-med, English, engineering and journalism.
He had an early fascination with flying and music and had great mechanical aptitude. He displayed some ability to read music by age four without having studied the subject, perhaps by listening to his mother and sisters playing piano.
He married Jeanette, a graduate student and daughter of a lawyer, in 1937 and divorced her in 1938 or 1939. He married Mary Ashworth, a divorcee with a daughter Maria, in 1950 or 1951, They had Bob's only biological child together, daughter Laurie. They divorced in 1968. He then married Nancy Penn Honeycutt, a divorcee with four children. They remained married until her death from breast cancer in about 1993 or 1994.
Monroe developed ulcers in young adulthood and so was classified 4F (unfit for service) during World War II. He spent the war years working for a manufacturing company that designed a flight-simulator prototype. He wrote for an aviation column in "Argosy" magazine and was given a job with the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), for whom he produced a weekly radio show called "Scramble!", the primary purpose of which was to interest youth in aviation.
In 1953 Mr. Monroe formed RAM Enterprises, a corporation that produced network radio programs, as many as 28 programs monthly, principally in dramatic and popular quiz shows.
In 1956 the firm created a Research and Development division to study the effects of various sound patterns on human consciousness, including the sleep state. Monroe was especially attracted to the concept of sleep-learning. This was a natural direction to take, applying to this new area the audio production methods used in the firm's commercial activity. The purpose was to find more constructive uses for such knowledge than was ordinarily available, and the results of this research have become internationally known.
According to his own account, while experimenting with sleep-learning in 1958 Monroe experienced an unusual phenomenon, which he described as sensations of paralysis and vibration accompanied by a bright light that appeared to be shining on him from a shallow angle. Monroe went on to say that this occurred another nine times over the next six weeks, culminating in his first out-of-body experience. Monroe recorded his account in his 1971 book Journeys Out Of The Body and went on to become a prominent researcher in the field of human consciousness. Monroe later authored two more books, Far Journeys (1985) and Ultimate Journey (1994).
In 1962 the company moved to Virginia, and a few years later changed the corporate name to Monroe Industries. In this location it became active in radio station ownership, cable television, and later in the production and sale of audio cassettes. These cassettes were practical expressions of the discoveries made in the earlier and ongoing corporate research program.
In 1985 the company officially changed its name, once again, to Interstate Industries, Inc. This reflected Monroe’s analogy of how the use of Hemi-Sync serves as a ramp from the “local road” to the “interstate” in allowing people to go "full steam ahead" in the exploration of consciousness, avoiding all of the stops and starts.
The research subsidiary was divested and established as an independent non-profit organization, The Monroe Institute, later in 1985. Interstate Industries, Inc. remains a privately held company, now doing business as Monroe Products.
Robert Monroe's leadership of the entire program of development were supported for more than 50 years by many specialists who continue their participation to this day. His daughter, Laurie Monroe, continued her father’s research into consciousness and the mind’s potential until her death in 2006. Under the current direction of another of Monroe's daughters, Maria Monroe Whitehead, Monroe's stepson, A. J. Honeycutt, and Teresa West, president of Monroe Products, the company's objective is to continue to expand the Hemi-Sync line of products and their benefits into markets worldwide.