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MIT professor who helped usher-in personal computing has died

Robert Fano worked in the 1960s on time-sharing systems and was one of the first advocates of open-source coding


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CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—A former Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer science and electrical engineering professor who helped usher in the personal computing age has died. Robert Fano was 98.

The university says Fano died July 13 in Florida.

Fano’s work in the 1960s on time-sharing systems so multiple people could use a computer at one time helped pave the way for the more widespread use of computers.

His research spurred data-compression techniques now used in high-definition TVs and computer networks.

He was also one of the world’s first open-source advocates who saw computing as a public utility that should be accessible to all.

Fano was born in Italy and moved to the U.S. in 1939. He was on MIT’s faculty from 1947 until 1984.

He is survived by three daughters and five grandchildren.


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