He grew up on a farm in Iowa and had no plans to attend university until a school teacher drove him and some classmates to Ames to visit Iowa State University. Rogers decided to pursue a degree in agriculture there. He then served in the Korean War for two years. He returned to Iowa State University to earn a PhD in sociology and statistics in 1957.
Academic Research He published 30 books, translated into 15 languages, and more than 500 articles. In a 47-year academic career, Rogers taught at Ohio State University, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Michigan State University, University of Michigan, Stanford University, Universite de Paris, University of Southern California, and the University of New Mexico. In total, he taught at six US universities and six universities in Europe, the Far East, and Latin America. He taught or conducted research in Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Thailand.
Diffusion of Innovations
Rogers achieved academic fame for his Diffusion of innovations theory; his book, Diffusion of Innovations, is now in its fifth edition. He proved that adopters of any new innovation or idea could be categorized as innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. Each adopter's willingness and ability to adopt an innovation would depend on their awareness, interest, evaluation, trial, and adoption. Rogers showed these innovations would spread through society in an S curve.
His research and work became widely accepted in communications and technology adoption studies, and also found its way into a variety of other social science studies. Geoffrey Moore's Crossing the Chasm drew drom Rogers in explaining how and why technology companies succeed. Rogers was also able to relate his communications research to practical health problems, including hygiene, family planning, cancer prevention, and drunk driving.
In 1995, Rogers moved to the University of New Mexico, having become fond of Alberquerque while stationed at an airbase during the Korean War. He helped UNM launch a communications doctoral program.
Rogers suffered from kidney disease and retired from the University of New Mexico in the summer of 2004. He died just a few months later, survived by his wife, Corinne Shefner-Rogers, and two sons: David Rogers and Everett King.