The Full Wiki

Robert Tappan Morris: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Robert Tappan Morris

Robert Morris
Born November 8, 1965 (1965-11-08) (age 44)
Alias(es) rtm
Conviction(s) Intentional access of Federal interest computers without authorization thereby preventing authorized access and causing a loss in excess of $1,000.00 [1] Jury returned a verdict of "guilty" on 22 Jan 1990, after 5½ hours of deliberations[1]
Penalty Probation for a term of three years and 400 hours of community service in a manner determined by the Probation Office and approved by the Court. Fines in the amount of $50 (payable immediately); $10,000 (payable in the first year); and $91/month for the three-year probation (payable monthly)[1]
Occupation associate professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Parents Robert Morris

Robert Tappan Morris, (born November 8, 1965), is an American associate professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in the Institute's department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.[2] He is best known for creating the Morris Worm in 1988, considered the first computer worm on the Internet.[3] He is the son of Robert Morris, the former chief scientist at the National Computer Security Center, a division of the National Security Agency (NSA).


The worm

Morris created the worm while he was a graduate student at Cornell University. The original intent, according to him, was to gauge the size of the Internet. He released the worm from MIT to conceal the fact that it actually originated from Cornell. The worm was designed to count how many machines were connected to the internet. Unknown to Morris, the worm had a design flaw. The worm was programmed to check each computer it found to determine if the infection was already present. However, Morris believed that some administrators might try to defeat his worm by instructing the computer to report a false positive. To compensate for this possibility, Morris directed the worm to copy itself anyway, 14% of the time, no matter the response to the infection-status interrogation. This level of replication proved excessive and the worm spread rapidly, infecting several thousand computers. It was estimated that the cost of "potential loss in productivity" caused by the worm at each system ranged from $20,000 to more than $530,000. The worm exploited several vulnerabilities to gain entry to targeted systems, including:

  • a hole in the debug mode of the Unix sendmail program,
  • a buffer overrun hole in the fingerd network service,
  • the transitive trust enabled by people setting up rexec/rsh network logins without password requirements.

Robert Morris served no jail time, but was sentenced to community service and probation, even though federal sentencing guidelines in such cases called for much harsher consequences.


  • 1983 - Graduated Valedictorian from Delbarton High School, Morristown, NJ
  • 1987 - Received his A.B. from Harvard. Came up with the idea for the worm while working on arrays in his computer science class
  • 1988 - Released the Morris worm (when he was a graduate student at Cornell)
  • 1989 - Indicted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 on July 26, 1989 - the first person to be indicted under this Act
  • 1990 - Convicted and sentenced to three years of probation, 400 hours of community service, a fine of $10,050 and the cost of his supervision
  • 1995 - Cofounded Viaweb, a start-up company that made software for building online stores (with Paul Graham)
  • 1998 - Viaweb sold for $48 million[4] to Yahoo, who renamed the software "Yahoo! Store"
  • 1999 - Received Ph.D. in Applied Sciences from Harvard
  • 1999 - Appointed as a professor at MIT
  • 2005 - Co-founded Y Combinator, a seed-stage startup funding firm, that provides seed money, advice, and connections at two 3-month programs per year (with Paul Graham, Trevor Blackwell, and Jessica Livingston)
  • 2006 - Awarded tenure[5]
  • 2006 - Technical advisor for Meraki Networks[6]
  • 2008 - Released the Arc programming language, a Lisp dialect (with Paul Graham).

His principal research interest is computer network architectures which includes work on distributed hash tables such as Chord and wireless mesh networks such as Roofnet.

Morris is a longtime friend of Paul Graham. Graham dedicated his book ANSI Common Lisp to him, and named the programming language that generates the online stores' web pages RTML in his honor. Graham also lists Morris as one of his personal heroes saying "he's never wrong."

See also


  1. ^ a b c Ronald B. Standler (14 August 2002). "Judgment in U.S. v. Robert Tappan Morris". rbs2. Retrieved 2008-08-23.  
  2. ^ "Robert Morris". csail. 2007. Retrieved 2008-08-23.  
  3. ^ Brendan P. Kehoe (2007). "The Robert Morris Internet Worm". mit. Retrieved 2008-08-23.  
  4. ^ Randy Weston (June 8, 1998). "Yahoo buys Viaweb for $49 million". Retrieved 2008-08-07.  
  5. ^ "23 faculty members awarded tenure". mit. October 25, 2006. Retrieved 2008-08-23.  
  6. ^ "about meraki". meraki. 2007. Retrieved 2008-08-23.  

External links


Hafner, Katie; Markoff, John (1991). Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier. ISBN 0-671-68322-5.  



Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address