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Richard Stallman

Stallman, rechtlijnig individualist, heeft de gedachte van de ‘free software’ ontwikkeld. Een concept dat o.a. door Linus Thorvalds, de maker van Linux, is overgemomen bij de ontwikkeling en verspreiding van Linux.

‘Free software’ werd door Bill Gates een ‘cancer’ genoemd en wordt door velen inclusief MS gezien als de enige serieuze bedreiging voor Microsoft. Momenteel is free software een geaccepteerde manier om software te produceren door honderden bedrijven o.a. toegepast door IBM, Sun en Novell. Vooral zich snel ontwikkelende landen als China, India en Venezuela stimuleren gebruik en de ontwikkeling van free software.

Richard Matthew Stallman, a.k.a. RMS, (born March 16, 1953) is the founder of the free software movement, the GNU project, and the Free Software Foundation. He is also a renowned programmer, whose major accomplishments include GNU Emacs, the GNU C Compiler, and the GNU Debugger. He is also the author of the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or GPL), the most widely-used free software license, which pioneered the concept of the copyleft.
Since the mid-1990s, Stallman has spent most of his time as a political campaigner, advocating free software and campaigning against software idea patents and expansions of copyright law. The time that he still devotes to programming is spent on GNU Emacs. He supports himself by being paid for around half of the speeches he gives.

Stallman was born in Manhattan. His first access to a computer came during his junior year at high school in 1969. Hired by the IBM New York Scientific Center, Stallman spent the summer after his high-school graduation writing his first program, a preprocessor for the PL/I programming language on the IBM 360. "I first wrote it in PL/I, then started over in assembly language when the PL/I program was too big to fit in the computer", he later said.

Stallman was simultaneously a volunteer Laboratory Assistant in the Biology Department at Rockefeller University. Although he was already moving toward a career in mathematics or physics, his analytical mind impressed the lab director such that a few years after Stallman departed for college, his mother received a phone call. "It was the professor at Rockefeller", she recalled. "He wanted to know how Richard was doing. He was surprised to learn that he was working in computers. He'd always thought Richard had a great future ahead of him as a biologist."

In 1971, as a freshman at Harvard University (graduated with a BA in Physics in 1974), Stallman became a programmer at the MIT AI Laboratory, where he became a fixture in the hacker community. During these years, he was perhaps better known by his initials, "RMS". In the first edition of the Hacker's Dictionary, he wrote, '"Richard Stallman" is just my mundane name; you can call me "rms".'

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