World Password Day – the 1960s just called and gave you your passwords back – Naked Security

Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s (or so we’ve heard), primary school children in the UK got a special treat.

Unlike their parents and grandparents before them, they were exempted from learning how to do calculations involving money.

Their teachers were no longer expected to show them how to do the confusing and needlessly complex sums required when working with the UK’s “old money”, even though it was still the official currency.

Widely referred to as LSDshort for the old Latin words librum, solidus and denariusthe units of Pounds, Shillings and Pence (itself an archaic alternative form of the word pennies) made up the strange monetary system of the day.

There were twelve pence in a shilling, and 20 shillings in a pound, so even simple shopping tasks in Britain used to require familiarity with decimal, duodecimal and vigesimal numbers, or base 10, base 12 and base 20 respectively.

Also, the coins not only had a mishmash of historical names, including florins, half-crowns and thr’p’ny bitsbut also a curious array of values: 0.5d, 1d, 3d, 6d, 1 shilling, 2 shillings, 2.5 shillings and 5 shillings.

The reason for this late 1960s pedagogical exemption from learning about LSD was obvious: the “old money” was scheduled for blanket replacement in 1971.

A much simpler decimal currency of 100 pence to the pound was on the way, with a more predicable progression of coins going 0.5p, 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 50p. (For some reason, the 20p coin was omitted at first and did not come out for a further 11 years; the minuscule 0.5p coin vanished forever in 1984.)

Why bother?

Why bother learning the intricacies of a counting system that had next to no life left in it, and that would ultimately not be missed for a moment even by people who thought it would be a wrench to leave behind?

Well, that’s where some people seem to think we are with passwords right now.

No one likes passwords; everyone is gasping to leave them behind; and the technology marketplace is promising a perfectly passwordless future any time now.

So why bother with World Password Day when we’re soon going to have a great big World Password Bonfire…

… And replace passwords with something else that’s easier and better?

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