MIT professor wins $82,000 prize for pioneering work in computer operating systems

CAMBRIDGE, Mass -- MIT Professor Emeritus Fernando Jose Corbato has received a 1998 Computers & Communications (C&C) Prize from the Foundation for C&C Promotion, a nonprofit group established by NEC Corporation. The prize, which includes a medal and a cash award of ten million yen (approximately $82,000 USD), commemorates the groundbreaking work done by Professor Corbato that established the basic concepts of modern computer operating systems.

Professor Corbato, of the Laboratory for Computer Science and Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, was presented with the prize in a ceremony held November 4 in Tokyo.

The computer operating system is the program that controls and shapes the way a computer runs. In addition to being a key feature in enabling a computer's functions, the operating system is important because it sets the standards for application programs that run on the computer. The citation on Professor Corbato's award read, "For Pioneering Contributions to the Establishment of the Basic Concepts of Modern Operating Systems through the Development of the Seminal General Purpose Time-sharing Systems: CTSS and Multics."

Other honors Professor Corbato has received over his career at MIT include the IEEE W.W. McDonnell Award in 1966, the Harry Goode Memorial Award from the American Federation of Information Processing Societies in 1980, the IEEE Computer Pioneer Award from the IEEE Computer Society in 1982 and the Alan M. Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery in 1990.

Professor Corbato began his career with MIT in 1955 at the Computation Center at MIT where he received a Ph.D. for his work in physics. In 1963, he helped to establish the research group, Project Mac, which is now known as MIT's Laboratory for Computer Science. Project MAC was part of a national program in information processing funded by the Department of Defense. From 1963 through 1972, Professor Corbato was the head of the Computer Systems Research Group under Project MAC. In 1978 he was named the Cecil Green Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, a position he held until 1980, and in 1993 he was awarded the Ford Professorship of Engineering chair.

The Foundation for C&C Promotion was established in March 1985 to encourage and support technological study and development toward the integration of computers and communications technologies. The Foundation also promotes the further development of the electronics industry worldwide.

The annual C&C Prize recognizes two individuals or teams for their outstanding contributions to the development of computer and communications technologies. Candidates are recommended from all over the world. In its thirteen years of existence, the C&C Prize has been awarded to 27 Americans, 3 British, 16 Japanese, and one person from Hong Kong for a total of 47 prize winners representing 27 areas of work.

The MIT Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) is an interdepartmental laboratory which brings together faculty, researchers, and students in a broad program of study, research and experimentation. The members of LCS are focused on the architecture of tomorrow's information infrastructures.

Some areas of research include the development of human-machine communication via speech understanding, advanced graphics and rendering tools, new computers and operating systems for a networked world, communication architectures, the automation of information intensive human tasks, and better ways to find and organize information. Research is also being conducted to explore the boundaries between computer science, biology and medicine.

The Laboratory's principal goal is to pursue innovations in information technology that will yield substantive long-term improvements in the ways people live and work. LCS strives for excellence, relevance, and social purpose. The hallmark of its research is a balanced consideration of technological capability and human utility.

Topics: Computer science and technology, Electrical engineering and electronics, Awards, honors and fellowships

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