On Friday, the world of computer security lost one of its most notable pioneers, Fernando Corbató, the American computer scientist credited with inventing the computer password therefore “pav[ing] the way for the personal computer.”
After completing a bachelor’s degree in physics at the California Institute of Technology, Corbató went on to pursue a PhD in the same field at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where, upon his academic graduation, he was hired immediately and worked until his retirement.
In addition to being the first to use a computer password to limit public access to designated files on a shared computer system, Corbató significantly contributed to the development of time-sharing operating systems, a technology that allows a single operating system to multitask.
In the early 1990s, Corbató was a recipient of the distinguished Turing Award for “his pioneering work organising the concepts and leading the development of the general-purpose, large-scale, time-sharing and resource-sharing computer systems, CTSS and Multics.”
Though computer passwords are becoming a technology of the past, becoming less secure as operating systems become more advanced, the invention has helped make computers into the personal devices that they’ve become today.
Corbató died Friday at the age of 93 as a result of diabetes-related complications.