Wired points out the first computer virus was made public 26 years ago by Fred Cohen, a University of Southern California graduate student. Cohen demonstrated his proof-of-concept code during a security seminar at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.
Cohen inserted his proof-of-concept code into a Unix command, and within five minutes of launching it onto a mainframe computer, had gained control of the system. In four other demonstrations, the code managed to seize control within half an hour on average, bypassing all of the security mechanisms current at the time. It was Cohen’s academic adviser, Len Adleman (the A in RSA Security), who likened the self-replicating program to a virus, thus coining the term.