Inventor of passwords Fernando Corbato passes away at 93


Fernando Corbato was a computer pioneer who had first used passwords to protect user accounts. Dr. Corbato passed away at 93 reportedly due to complications caused by diabetes. The computer pioneer had introduced basic security measure and developed methods that allowed people to use a computer at the same time. He had developed a technique that was called as time-sharing that had divided the processing power of a computer so that it could serve more than one person at once.

The sharing computer work was conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of technology where Dr. Corbato spent his entire career. Corbato had joined MIT in 1950 to study for doctorate in physics , but during those years he had realized that he was more interested in machines that the physicist used to do their calculations than in the subject itself. During the 50s, using computers was an exercise due to the huge monolithic machines could only handle one processing job at a time. To overcome such a limitation, Corbato developed an operating system for computers known as Compatible Time-sharing system also known as the CTSS.

Instead of having the machine dedicated to one person, the CTSS divided up the processing power of a computer in to small slices so it could do little bits of work for many people. Even during the 50s and 60s, computers were so fast that no user noticed that they were getting only a small portion of a machine’s processing power at any one time. The CTSS led to another time-sharing program known as multics which was the forerunner of the Linux operating system and many other aspects of contemporary computing. The passwords were introduced to CTSS as a way for the users to hide away the files and programs that they were working on from others on the same machine.

Dr. Corbato received the AM Turning award in 1990 which is one of the highest honors given to computer scientists.

Photo Credits: The Next Web

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