87-Year-Old Inventor Of Computer Password Keeps His On Sheets Of Paper

Do you have so many online accounts that you can barely keep track of where you’re registered, let alone what the passwords are? You’re certainly not alone. Heck, even Fernando Corbató, a retired researcher who is one of the people credited with inventing the computer password 50 years ago, keeps all of his on a few typed sheets of paper.

Don’t be too horrified: by the time you read this, he will have transferred them over to some kind of password-keeping program, just like you made your dad/aunt/all other relatives do while you were visiting over Christmas.

Passwords came about to simplify life in the early ’60s while using a mainframe: researchers at MIT were sharing a disk file and needed separate accounts. To keep each other out of their accounts, each one had its own password. “You wanted to avoid people needlessly nosing around in everybody’s files,” Corbató explained to the Wall Street Journal. That holds true today, but those files are now a lot more intimate and important to us. Yet no one has invented any better technology than the password…yet.

Man Behind the First Computer Password: It’s Become a Nightmare [Wall Street Journal]