F. J. Corbato

F. J. Corbato


Fernando J. Corbato, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at M.I.T., has achieved wide recognition for his pioneering work on the design and development of multiple-access computer systems. He was associated with the M.I.T. Computation Center from its organization in 1956 until 1966. In 1963 he was a founding member of Project MAC, the antecedent of CSAIL. An early version of the Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS) was first demonstrated in November 1961, at the M.I.T. Computation Center. In the fall of 1963, after further development, the system began daily operation at Project MAC.

Out of the CTSS experience, further research and development began of a new system, Multics (Multiplexed Information and Computing Service). Multics became available for general use at M.I.T. in October 1969 and a Honeywell product in 1973. Fernando Corbato received his Ph.D. from M.I.T. in 1956 in Physics. He was appointed Associate Professor in 1962, promoted to Professor in 1965, and was Associate Department Head for Computer Science and Engineering during 1974-78 and 1983-93. At retirement in 1996, he held a Ford Professor of Engineering Chair.


  • The Compatible Time-Sharing System: A Programmer's Guide, (coauthored), M.I.T. Press, June 1963.
  • "Introduction and Overview of the MulticsSystem," (with Vyssotsky, V. A.), Proceedings of the FJCC, 1965.
  • "A Managerial View of the Multics System Development," (with Clingen, C. T.) in Research Directions in Software Technology edited by P., Wegner, M.I.T. Press, 1979. (Also published in Tutorial: Software Management, Reifer, Donald J. (ed), IEEE Computer Society Press, l979; 2nd Edition l981; 3rd Ed., 1986.)
  • Turing Award Lecture: "On Building Systems that will Fail" CACM 34, No. 9, 73-81, Sep. 1991.


  • Computer History Museum: Fellow (2012)
  • California Institute of Technology: Distinguished Alumni Award (2003)
  • NEC: Computers and Communications Award (1998)
  • Association for Computing Machinery: Fellow (1994)
  • Association for Computing Machinery: A.M. Turing Award (1990)
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science: Fellow (1982)
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers: Computing Society Computer Pioneer Award (1982)
  • American Federation of Information Processing Societies: Harry Goode Memorial Award (1980)
  • National Academy of Engineering: Member (1976)
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences: Fellow (1975)
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers: Fellow (1975)
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers: Computer Society W. Wallace Mc Dowell Award (1966)