Robert Morris – Cryptographer, Developer of the Unix OS Dead at 78

Posted by at 1:50 am on July 11, 2011

Robert Morris, who helped develop the Unix OS died Sunday at 78. Mr. Morris was also a renowned cryptographer and expert on online warfare. He was best known for some of his work in the early 70s, he became part of a group developing the Unix computer operating system. His contribution included work on security, password systems and encryption.

Mr Morris received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s in applied mathematics from Harvard. He went on to work for the think tank Bell Labs.

In the late seventies, he became focused on cryptography. He also attracted the attention of the National Security Agency (NSA), which he joined in 1986. While there, he was a thought leader on computer security, electronic surveillance and online warfare. Although his career there is hidden in secrecy, he is credited with helping to launch the US’ first digital attack ever against Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War in 1991. It’s said, unofficially, that he helped compromise the dictator’s military command and control capabilities in the days leading up to the war.

Mr. Morris retired from the agency in 1994.

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