Fernando Corbató, Ph. D.


Ahead of His Generation

  • A native of Oakland, California, Fernando Corbató discovered a passion for debugging systems after training as an electronics technician for the Navy during World War II. A Caltech (‘50) and MIT (‘56) graduate, Corbató was ahead of the curve as he encouraged his colleagues and those who worked for him to implement what is now known as agile software development.
  • In the early 1960s, Corbató oversaw the development of the Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS), a program that allowed multiple users across locations to access a single computer concurrently. Understanding that this access would allow different users to access the files of others, Corbató invented a security protocol to protect user-specific information – otherwise known as the password.
  • Decades later, Corbató would go on to receive the A.M. Turing Award – often referred to as the Nobel Prize of Computing – for his pioneering work in the development of CTSS.

Building a Trusted Future

  • Since its development, CTSS has provided multi-location users to operate particular computer systems simultaneously while reducing the processing time of operating systems being shared by multiple users.
  • CTSS also enabled online file systems to store data, programs, and user files on the machines as opposed to in card decks stored in individual users’ offices. This online system made it possible for the sharing of such data and programs between users.