Richard Stallman

Richard Stallman is the founder of the GNU Project, launched in 1984 to develop the free operating system GNU (an acronym for ``GNU's Not Unix''), and thereby give computer users the freedom that most of them have lost. GNU is free software: everyone is free to copy it and redistribute it, as well as to make changes either large or small. Today, Linux-based variants of the GNU system, based on the kernel Linux developed by Linus Torvalds, are in widespread use. There are estimated to be some 20 million users of GNU/Linux systems today. Richard Stallman is the principal author of the GNU C Compiler, a portable optimizing compiler which was designed to support diverse architectures and multiple languages. The compiler now supports over 30 different architectures and 7 programming languages. Stallman also wrote the GNU symbolic debugger (GDB), GNU Emacs, and various other GNU programs. Stallman graduated from Harvard in 1974 with a BA in physics. During his college years, he also worked as a staff hacker at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab, learning operating system development by doing it. He wrote the first extensible Emacs text editor there in 1975. In January 1984 he resigned from MIT to start the GNU Project. Stallman received the Grace Hopper Award for 1991 from the Association for Computing Machinery, for his development of the first Emacs editor. In 1990 he was awarded a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, and in 1996 an honorary doctorate from the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. In 1998 he received the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Pioneer award along with Linus Torvalds. In 1999 he received the Yuri Rubinski Award.