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Corbató was born on July 1, 1926 in Oakland, California, to Hermenegildo Corbató, a Spanish literature professor from Villarreal, Spain, and Charlotte (née Carella Jensen) Corbató. In 1930 the Corbató family moved to Los Angeles for Hermenegildo's job at UCLA.
In 1943, Corbató enrolled at UCLA, but due to World War II he was recruited by the Navy during his first year. During the war, Corbató "debug[ged] an incredible array of equipment", inspiring his future career.
The first time-sharing system he was associated with was known as the MIT Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS), an early version of which was demonstrated in 1961. Corbató is credited with the first use of passwords to secure access to files on a large computer system, though he now says that this rudimentary security method has proliferated and become unmanageable.
Among many awards, Corbató received the Turing Award in 1990, "for his pioneering work in organizing the concepts and leading the development of the general-purpose, large-scale, time-sharing and resource-sharing computer systems".
In 2012, he was made a Fellow of the Computer History Museum "for his pioneering work on timesharing and the Multics operating system".
Corbató is sometimes known for "Corbató's Law" which states:
The number of lines of code a programmer can write in a fixed period of time is the same, independent of the language used.
Corbató is recognized as helping to create the first computer password.
Personal life and death
Corbató married programmer Isabel Blandford in 1962; she died in 1973.
Corbató had a second wife, Emily (née Gluck); two daughters, Carolyn Corbató Stone and Nancy Corbató, by his late wife Isabel; two step-sons, David Gish and Jason Gish; a brother, Charles; and five grandchildren.
Corbató died on July 12, 2019 in Newburyport, Massachusetts, at the age of 93 due to complications from diabetes.
F. J. Corbató, C. T. Clingen, J. H. Saltzer, Multics -- The First Seven Years (AFIPS, 1972) is an excellent review, after a considerable period of use and improvement
F. J. Corbató, C. T. Clingen, A Managerial View of the Multics System Development ("Conference on Research Directions in Software Technology", Providence, Rhode Island, 1977) is a fascinating look at what it was like to manage such a large software project
^Originally from Corbató, F. J. (6 May 1969). "PL/I as a Tool for System Programming". Datamation. 15 (5): 68-76. Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Regardless of whether one is dealing with assembly language or compiler language, the number of debugged lines of source code per day is about the same!