Peter Mattis

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Peter Mattis is a computer programmer most notable for his early work on the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP).

In 1995, while students at the University of California at Berkeley, Mattis and his classmate Spencer Kimball developed the first version of the GIMP as a class project. The two were also members of a student club at Berkeley called the eXperimental Computer Facility (XCF).[1]

According to Mattis in 1999:

Spencer did much more work on the GIMP proper while I did much more on GTk. This provided a fairly clean break that allowed us to work in parallel fairly easily. I probably wrote 95 percent of the original GTk code. The only widgets I didn't write were the file-selection widget, the text widget, and the rulers. I'm not sure how much of the original GIMP code was mine. There, I mostly worked on the plug-in architecture.

On free software and the motivations to write it and what makes good and enduring free software:[2]

You should understand that the GIMP and GTk weren't written to fill holes in the software available under the GPL (GNU General Public License) and LGPL (GNU Library General Public License). The GIMP was started because I wanted to make a Web page. GTk was started because I was dissatisfied with Motif and wanted to see what it took to write a UI toolkit. These are purely selfish reasons. That is probably why the projects progressed so far and eventually succeeded. I find it much more difficult to work on something for extended periods of time for selfless reasons.

Think about how many vaporware projects have started because someone said, "the open source community needs X to succeed." Now think about how many open source software packages are available in which the author states, "I wrote Y because I needed to be able to do Z" or "I wrote Y because I wanted to learn how to do Z."

Mattis works for Square, Inc.. He has worked on Google Servlet Engine[3] along with Spencer Kimball.


  1. ^ Frauenheim, Ed (2000-12-04). "Free Photoshop for the people". Retrieved 2006-08-28. 
  2. ^ "Where did Spencer Kimball and Peter Mattis go?". LinuxWorld. Archived from the original on 1999-04-17. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  3. ^ "OpenGSE Released". Google. Retrieved 2009-01-27.