Who is who in open source - Part 2: geek biographies

    We continue to talk about people who influenced the development of open source.

    / photo Sebastiaan ter Burg CC BY-SA

    Richard Stallman

    Richard Matthew Stallman was born in 1953 in the family of a teacher and seller of printing presses. From an early age he was fond of computers. Stallman read books on computer programming and technical documentation.

    In high school, he was invited to an internship at the IBM Research Center , where he first started programming. In 1970, Stallman entered the physics department of Harvard University. Communication with peers was difficult for him, so he devoted all his free time to study and work. In his first year, Richard began to work as a laboratory assistant at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

    It was work at MIT that had the greatest impact on Stallman's approach to writing programs. The atmosphere of academic cooperation reigned in the laboratory - people freely exchanged code and helped each other with projects. But by the end of the 1970s, the situation began to change - open programs began to replace proprietary software.

    Stallman did not like the fact that the university was no longer a place for an open exchange of ideas and software tools. Therefore, he left MIT and began to engage in popularizing open source software.

    Richard set two tasks for himself - to create a free operating system and a legal base for its distribution. And in 1983, the GNU project (GNU's Not Unix) was born, designed to become an open and improved copy of Unix (which at that time was proprietary). It also developed an open GPL license. She secured the right to use software products for free, modify them and sell them.

    / photo Anders Brenna CC BY

    In 1985, Richard founded the Free Software Foundation, under the auspices of which were released GNU GCC (C compiler), GNU GDB (debugger) and GNU Emacs (iconic text editor). These tools and the GPL later served as the basis for the Linux operating system.

    After the spread of Linux, Stallman began to speak frequently at IT conferences. He travels the world lecturing on ethics and intellectual property. At the same time, Richard Stallman continues to act as president of the Free Software Foundation to this day.

    Linus Torvalds

    Linus Benedict Torvalds was born on December 28, 1969 into a Finnish family of Swedish descent. As a child, Linus became interested in microcomputers and began to program: first in BASIC, and then in machine code.

    The largest project of his youth was a modification of the Sinclair QL operating system, for which he independently wrote an assembler and a text editor. It is not surprising that Linus entered the country's main university, the University of Helsinki, without any problems.

    / photo Krd CC BY-SA
    It was there that in the late 80s he met with a Unix-like operating system called Minix. Linus liked its portability and lightness, but did not like the terms of the license. In 1991, he decided to create his own free alternative to Minix for 32-bit Intel processors. For these purposes, he used the tools of the GNU project founded by Stallman.

    What started as a hobby soon turned into one of the most popular operating systems and an international phenomenon - Linux.

    After some time, a massive community formed around the OS that needed to be managed. Therefore, Linus was forced to take a leadership role and move away from development as such. As of 2006, only two percent of the Linux kernel source code was written personally by Torvalds. But in addition to kernel code, Linus also developed the Git version control system, which remains popular today.

    As a leader, Linus is known for his directness, sometimes reaching the point of rudeness. Last year, he had to apologize for his behavior. Torvalds even temporarily resigned as Linux project coordinator. But he soon returned to his duties and plans to further develop the open source ecosystem.

    Guido Van Rossum

    Guido Van Rossum was born in 1956 in Haarlem - the capital of North Holland. At the age of ten, young Guido was presented with a designer from electronic components. Having exhausted the book with examples, he began to assemble his own schemes. This experience instilled in him a love of electronics. In high school, Rossum intensively studied physics and wanted to design electronic devices.

    Programming, unlike Torvalds and Stallman, Guido began to deal much later. In the 70s, he entered the University of Amsterdam at the Faculty of Mathematics. The mainframe was located in the university building, the capabilities of which struck Guido. He began to study Algol, Fortran and Pascal, and subsequently completely transferred to the faculty of computer science.

    While still a student, Rossum began working as a programmer. Led by Andrew Tanenbaum, the creator of Minix, he joined the development of the Amoeba operating system , and later, the interpreted, object-oriented language ABC . By all standards, this language was ahead of its time, but the hopes that it placed on it did not materialize. The product failed and after three years its development was abandoned.

    During the Christmas holidays of 1989, Rossum began to independently develop a new programming language, which included the best ideas of the "dead" ABC. The project was called Python - in honor of the comedy group Monty Python, which he loved so much.

    In the 90s, Python surpassed in popularity not only its predecessors, but also many modern languages. An active community formed around him, and Guido was baptized as the “Magnanimous Life-long Dictator” of the project.

    / photo Daniel Stroud CC BY-SA

    Later Rossum moved to the USA. There he worked at Google and popularized programming among children. In 2008, Guido began to help the still young Dropbox team and is still working on it.

    As for Python, its popularity is only growing. Today, millions of people begin their journey in the programming world with it.

    Tim O'Reilly

    For open-source technologies to be used, someone needs to write about them. And Tim O'Reilly literally “formed” the language we are talking about open-source.

    / photo Christopher Michel CC BY
    Tim O'Reilly was born in 1954 in southeastern Ireland. As a child, he moved to San Francisco. Unlike the other people mentioned in the article, Tim received a liberal arts education and graduated from Harvard with a diploma in antique literature.

    Soon after graduation, O'Reilly got married and also received a grant to translate Greek fables. But you won’t feed seven academic grants - O'Reilly began to look for a way to build a career. A friend - an engineer named Peter Brier - offered Tim a job - to write technical documentation for his company's products. Despite the fact that O'Reilly had never seen computers in his life, he agreed. So, his journey into the IT world began.

    By the mid-80s, Tim had accumulated enough knowledge to establish his own company. During this time, he developed his own technical language - simple and accessible even to such humanities as himself. Initially, his organization was engaged in the production of custom documentation, but later turned into a whole publishing empire - O'Reilly.

    O'Reilly's first “breakthrough” was The Whole Internet User's Guide and Catalog . It was published in 1992, at the dawn of the Internet - and for a long time remained one of the most authoritative resources on the topic. Each year, the company sold 250 thousand copies of this book.

    When in the mid-90s, Cisco turned to Tim with an offer to buy a company, he refused, confident that he could develop his own business. And so it happened - now his publishing house earns more than $ 50 million a year.

    In addition to publishing, Tim actively participated in the life of Silicon Valley. For his ability to predict trends, he was nicknamed the "oracle." In 1998, it was he who popularized the term open source software, in the zero published a work about Web 2.0. For the past ten years, he remains one of the most prominent figures in the culture of makers .

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