New submitter MikeatWired writes "If you're like most people, you're annoyed by passwords. So who's to blame? Who invented the computer password? They probably arrived at MIT in the mid-1960s, when researchers built a massive time-sharing computer called CTSS. Technology changes. But, then again, it doesn't, writes Bob McMillan. Twenty-five years after the fact, Allan Scherr, a Ph.D. researcher at MIT in the early '60s, came clean about the earliest documented case of password theft. In the spring of 1962, Scherr was looking for a way to bump up his usage time on CTSS. He had been allotted four hours per week, but it wasn't nearly enough time to run the detailed performance simulations he'd designed for the new computer system. So he simply printed out all of the passwords stored on the system. 'There was a way to request files to be printed offline by submitting a punched card,' he remembered in a pamphlet (PDF) written last year to commemorate the invention of the CTSS. 'Late one Friday night, I submitted a request to print the password files and very early Saturday morning went to the file cabinet where printouts were placed and took the listing.' To spread the guilt around, Scherr then handed the passwords over to other users. One of them — J.C.R. Licklieder — promptly started logging into the account of the computer lab's director Robert Fano, and leaving 'taunting messages' behind."
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