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Published on Jul 20, 2011
Fernando José "Corby" Corbató (born July 1, 1926 in Oakland, California) is a prominent American computer scientist, notable as a pioneer in the development of time-sharing operating systems.
Amongst many awards, he 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".
The first timesharing system he was associated with was known as the MIT Compatible Time-Sharing System, an early version of which was demonstrated in 1961. The experience gained led to a second project, Multics, which was adopted by Honeywell. Multics, while not particularly commercially successful in itself, directly inspired Ken Thompson to develop Unix, the direct descendants of which are still in extremely wide use; it also served as a model for every other subsequent operating system design.
Born in Oakland, California, Corbató received a bachelor's degree from the California Institute of Technology in 1950, and then a Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1956. He joined MIT's Computation Center immediately upon graduation, became a professor in 1965, and stayed at MIT until he retired.
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.