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Bram Moolenaar

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Bram Moolenaar
Moolenaar in 2007
Born1961 (1961)
Lisse, Netherlands
Died (aged 62)
Known for
AwardsNLUUG Awards

Bram Moolenaar (Dutch: [ˈbrɑm ˈmoːlənaːr]; 1961 – 3 August 2023) was a Dutch software engineer and activist who was the creator, maintainer, and benevolent dictator for life of Vim,[1] a vi-derivative text editor. He advocated for ICCF Holland, a non-governmental organization supporting AIDS victims in Uganda, and used the popularity of Vim to encourage donations.

From July 2006 until September 2021, Moolenaar was employed by Google, working in the Zürich office on Google Calendar.[2] He spent part of his time maintaining Vim.[3]

Early life and education


Moolenaar was born in Lisse, Netherlands, in 1961.[2] In 1985, he graduated from the Delft University of Technology with a degree in electrical engineering.[4]


The opening screen of Vim
The opening screen of Vim

In 1988, Moolenaar purchased an Amiga computer. Familiar with vi, which had not been ported to the Amiga at the time, he tested several clones of vi, including Stevie. Moolenaar took the source code of Stevie and improved upon it. Seeking to match vi, Moolenaar eventually added in additional features, such as undoing multiple levels.[4] The first version of "Vi IMitation" was released in 1988 on a public domain disk set made by Fred Fish. Several users ported Vim onto other platforms, such as MS-DOS and Unix. In version 1.22 in 1992, Vi IMitation was renamed to "Vi IMproved".[4][5]

Vim is open-source and charityware; users are encouraged to donate to ICCF Holland.[4] A number of other applications have been licensed this way since Vim's inception.[6] Vim has won several awards[7] and has been referred to as one of the most popular text editors.[8][9][10]

Other ventures


Other software tools that Moolenaar developed include a software build tool written in Python, called A-A-P, which is similar to make, and a programming language called Zimbu which puts an emphasis on readability of programs.[2]

Moolenaar was a member of the Dutch Unix user group, NLUUG, which presented him with an award during its 25th anniversary, for his creation of Vim and his contributions to open-source software in general.[11]



Moolenaar was an advocate of ICCF Holland, a non-governmental organization based in Kibaale, Uganda which he founded to support children whose parents have died of AIDS. In 1994, he volunteered as a water and sanitation engineer for the Kibaale Children's Centre; he made several return trips over the following twenty-five years. In 1995, he made Vim charityware. An estimated US$2,000 was raised for ICCF Holland in 1997, followed by US$4,000 a year later.[4] In 1999, donation income totaled approximately US$7,000.[12] He last visited the Kibaale Community Centre in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic.[2]

Illness and death


Moolenaar reported health problems in October 2022.[2]

On 5 August 2023, Moolenaar's family announced[13] in the Vim Google Group that Moolenaar had died two days prior, at the age of 62, because of a rapidly developing medical condition.[2] His funeral was held in Lisse, The Netherlands, on 16 August 2023.[14] Vim will be continued by co-contributor Christian Brabandt.[2]




  1. ^ Rehman, Rafeeq Ur; Paul, Christopher (2003). The Linux development platform: configuring, using, and maintaining a complete programming environment. Prentice Hall PTR. pp. 37–. ISBN 978-0-13-009115-4. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Proven, Liam (7 August 2023). "RIP Bram Moolenaar: Coding world mourns Vim creator". The Register. Archived from the original on 8 August 2023. Retrieved 7 August 2023.
  3. ^ "Yahoo! Groups". groups.yahoo.com. Archived from the original on 9 November 2020. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e Moolenaar, Bram (15 January 2002). "Vim, an open-source text editor". free-soft.org. Archived from the original on 5 August 2023. Retrieved 5 August 2023.
  5. ^ Moolenaar 2000, p. 4.
  6. ^ "charityware . info | for developers and users who care". charityware.info. Archived from the original on 28 April 2009. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  7. ^ "Vim". Moolenaar.net. Archived from the original on 12 November 2011. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  8. ^ Jacob Gube. "The 15 Most Popular Text Editors for Developers". Sixrevisions.com. Archived from the original on 18 January 2012. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  9. ^ "14 Most Popular Text Editors for Linux | TuxArena Blog". Tuxarena.blogspot.com. April 2009. Archived from the original on 13 March 2012. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  10. ^ "Best Text Editors". Lifehacker.com. 1 May 2008. Archived from the original on 8 November 2011. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  11. ^ "NLUUG Award". 2008. Archived from the original on 13 April 2011. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  12. ^ Marshall 2002, p. 103-104.
  13. ^ "Message from the family of Bram Moolenaar". Retrieved 13 February 2024.
  14. ^ Axon, Samuel (8 August 2023). "Rest in peace Bram Moolenaar, author of Vim and hero of many developers". Ars Technica. Retrieved 8 August 2023.

Works cited