Monday, July 15, 2019

Fernando Corbató, RIP

Katie Hafner (via Rodney Brooks):

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.


C.T.S.S. gave rise to a successor project called Multics, which Dr. Corbató also led. He told the Babbage Institute, “Multics started out as kind of a wish list of what we would like to see in a big computer system that might be made as a commercial model.”

Multics was a collaboration among M.I.T., AT&T’s Bell Laboratories and General Electric. It failed as a commercial endeavor, but it inspired a team of computer scientists at Bell Labs to create Unix, a computer operating system that took root in the 1970s and was adopted widely in the ′80s and ′90s.


In the course of refining time-sharing systems in the 1960s, Dr. Corbató came up with another novelty: the computer password.

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