Last year on this day, we celebrated the 60th birthday of the visionary Richard Stallman. I don’t like to repeat myself, but there is no one who I particularly want to celebrate. Jerry Jeff Walker is a fine singer-songwriter. Bernardo Bertolucci is a great film director. And I’m really fond of actor Alan Tudyk. But Stallman is probably the most important man you’ve never heard of.
So this day belongs to the great computer scientist and free software advocate Richard Matthew Stallman—often known as RMS, probably because it is a nerdy little mathematics reference. He started the GNU Project, which is what ultimately led to Linux. And he started the Free Software Foundation. As a programmer, his greatest accomplishment is probably writing the first gcc compiler. But I think what is more important has been his leadership in developing the free software movement. We should be building statues to him.
Here is a short interview with him. There is a great line in it, “Innovation is not my highest value; human rights are my highest value.” This is from a man who is several quantum levels above the technical expertise of all the pundits and businessmen who rant about innovation. That, in a nutshell, is why I so admire him.
Happy birthday Richard Stallman!