RIP Fernando Corbató, whose "work on computer time-sharing in the 1960s helped pave the way for the personal computer, as well as the computer password"
Fernando Corbató, whose work on computer time-sharing in the 1960s helped pave the way for the personal computer, as well as the computer password, died on Friday at a nursing home in Newburyport, Mass. He was 93.
His wife, Emily Corbató, said the cause was complications of diabetes. At his death he was a professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Corbató, who spent his entire career at M.I.T., oversaw a project in the early 1960s called the Compatible Time-Sharing System, or C.T.S.S., which allowed multiple users in different locations to access a single computer simultaneously through telephone lines. [...] In the course of refining time-sharing systems in the 1960s, Dr. Corbató came up with another novelty: the computer password.
C.T.S.S. gave each user a private set of files, but the lack of a login system requiring a password meant that users were free to peruse others’ files.
“Putting a password on for each individual user as a lock seemed like a very straightforward solution,” Dr. Corbató told Wired magazine in 2012. The passwords for C.T.S.S. are widely considered to be among the earliest computer security mechanisms.