Robert Fano, 98, Dies; Engineer Who Helped Develop Interactive Computers

By JOHN MARKOFF July 26, 2016 Robert Fano, an electrical engineer who was instrumental in creating a world of instantly responsive computers, died on July 13 in Naples, Fla. He was 98. His daughter Paola Nisonger confirmed his death. As a pioneering computer designer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mr. Fano made fundamental theoretical advances, both in the ways computers handled information and in the design of interactive software that made it possible for the machines to support many simultaneous users. Building on the idea of shared computing proposed in 1961 by John McCarthy, an artificial intelligence researcher, Dr. Fano collaborated with another electrical engineer, Fernando J. Corbato, to develop the first time-sharing computer operating system, known as Compatible Time-Sharing System, or CTSS, to run on an IBM computer. Before the…


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