NORCROSS, GA – In a career spanning thirty years, programmer Bob Horton has documented the highs and lows with passwords that reflected his trajectory at the time.
In 1988, Horton got his first job out of school programming for InveigleTek, brimming with enthusiasm for the future that lay ahead. His login at the time was username BHorton, password STR82theT0P, then in later required password changes he used variations on cars he wanted to buy, such as L4MB0R6H1N1 and P0r$CH3.
He remained at that position through the recession of the early 90s, maintaining his spirit with encouraging passwords like N3v3rG1v3Up and G0NN4M4K31T. A crestfallen Horton left InveigleTek when the return of favorable economic conditions did not find their way to him, as seen in his last password there, Pa$$ed0vR.
Horton stayed with his next employer DataGraft through the wild days of the dotcom boom, when Horton expected to advance with many of his peers who met with great fortune. However, most of his peers jumped from job to job in order to move up, and Horton remained at the same company. He racked up countless hours of overtime with no corresponding reward, creating passwords like A11WRKnN0PlaY and NoTpr0@ct1ve, a dig at one supervisor’s lackluster performance review.
When the tech bubble burst, Horton was D0WnS1z3d (as he put it in a password), in order to create space for less expensive programmers. Promises by management to rehire him as a consultant went nowhere, prompting epithets such as RatFinKB055! and 5ycoph@nt.
A series of tentative jobs followed that, never affording Horton the security he had pursued, and getting him as far as a F0RDT4URU$ that at least is paid in full. The downturn of 2008 solidified what Horton had started to wistfully acknowledge, that his career had hit a PL4T3AU. His company at the time, Mountebank Systems, did make for another telling password at the time, 401kG0ne.
These days, approaching 50, Horton’s passwords reflect shifting moods of resentment and resignation in his latest position at StrataGem. Adjusted for inflation, his salary is now less than when he first started out. Some passwords try to focus on the future, such as 30yrs2ret1rement. The rest of the time, he simply uses a mishmash of indifferent symbols like #@$%&!<?.