Guido van Rossum

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Guido van Rossum
Guido van Rossum OSCON 2006
Guido van Rossum at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention, 2006.
Born (1956-01-31) 31 January 1956 (age 61)
Haarlem, Netherlands[1][2]
Nationality Dutch
Alma mater University of Amsterdam
Occupation Computer programmer, author
Employer Dropbox[3]
Known for Creating the Python programming language
Spouse(s) Kim Knapp (m. 2000)
Children Orlijn Michiel Knapp-van Rossum[4]
Awards Award for the Advancement of Free Software (2001)

Guido van Rossum (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɣido vɑn ˈrɔsʏm, -səm], born 31 January[5] 1956) is a Dutch programmer who is best known as the author of the Python programming language. In the Python community, Van Rossum is known as a "Benevolent Dictator For Life" (BDFL), meaning that he continues to oversee the Python development process, making decisions where necessary.[6] He was employed by Google from 2005 until December 7th 2012, where he spent half his time developing the Python language. In January 2013, Van Rossum started working for Dropbox.[3]


Van Rossum was born and raised in the Netherlands, where he received a master's degree in mathematics and computer science from the University of Amsterdam in 1982. He later worked for various research institutes, including the Dutch Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI), Amsterdam, the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Gaithersburg, Maryland, and the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI), Reston, Virginia.

Personal life[edit]

Guido van Rossum is the brother of Just van Rossum, a type designer and programmer. Just van Rossum designed the typeface that is used in the "Python Powered" logo. Guido lives in Belmont, California with his wife, Kim Knapp,[7] and their son, Orlijn.[8][9][10]


While working at the Stichting Mathematisch Centrum (CWI), Guido van Rossum wrote and contributed a glob() routine to BSD Unix in 1986.[11][12] Van Rossum also worked on the development of the ABC programming language, later stating, "I try to mention ABC's influence because I'm indebted to everything I learned during that project and to the people who worked on it."[13] He also created the early Grail web browser which was written in Python and engaged in discussions about the HTML standard.[14]


Van Rossum at the 2008 Google I/O Developer's Conference.

About the origin of Python, Van Rossum wrote in 1996:

Over six years ago, in December 1989, I was looking for a "hobby" programming project that would keep me occupied during the week around Christmas. My office ... would be closed, but I had a home computer, and not much else on my hands. I decided to write an interpreter for the new scripting language I had been thinking about lately: a descendant of ABC that would appeal to Unix/C hackers. I chose Python as a working title for the project, being in a slightly irreverent mood (and a big fan of Monty Python's Flying Circus).[15]

In 2000 he further wrote:

Python's predecessor, ABC, was inspired by SETLLambert Meertens spent a year with the SETL group at NYU before coming up with the final ABC design![16]

Computer Programming for Everybody[edit]

In 1999, Van Rossum submitted a funding proposal to DARPA called Computer Programming for Everybody, in which he further defined his goals for Python:

  • an easy and intuitive language just as powerful as major competitors
  • open source, so anyone can contribute to its development
  • code that is as understandable as plain English
  • suitability for everyday tasks, allowing for short development times

Python has grown to become a popular programming language. As of November 2011, it was the 3rd most popular language on the GitHub social coding website.[17] According to a programming language popularity survey[18] it is consistently amongst the top 10 most mentioned languages in job postings. Furthermore, Python is consistently[clarification needed] in the top 10 most popular languages according to the TIOBE Programming Community Index.[19]


While working for Google, Van Rossum developed Mondrian, a web-based code review system written in Python and used within the company. He named the software after the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian.[20] He named another related software project after Gerrit Rietveld, a Dutch designer.[21]


In December 2012, Van Rossum joined the cloud file storage company Dropbox.[22]



  1. ^ "Old interview – Guido van Rossum". Retrieved 28 January 2014. I only took some time to visit my family in Haarlem. 
  2. ^ "Schoolbank profile". Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Constine, Josh. "Dropbox Hires Away Google’s Guido Van Rossum, The Father Of Python". Techcrunch. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  4. ^ "Guido van Rossum". CodeCall Programming Wiki. Archived from the original on 31 October 2008. 
  5. ^ van Rossum, Guido (31 January 2007). "(Python-Dev) Happy Birthday, Guido!". Python-Dev mailing list. 
  6. ^ "Benevolent dictator for life". Linux Format. 1 February 2005. Archived from the original on 1 October 2006. Retrieved 1 November 2007. 
  7. ^ Manheimer, Ken (6 June 2000). "(Python-Dev) Guido and Kim married". Python-Dev -- Python core developers. 
  8. ^ "Guido van Rossum - Brief Bio". 
  9. ^ "(Mailman-Announce) forwarded message from Guido van Rossum". Oh, and to top it all off, I'm going on vacation. I'm getting married and will be relaxing on my honeymoon. 
  10. ^ van Rossum, Guido. "What's New in Python?" (PDF). "Not your usual list of new features". Stanford CSL Colloquium, 29 October 2003; BayPiggies, 13 November 2003. Elemental Security. 
  11. ^ "'Globbing' library routine". Archived from the original on 19 December 2007. 
  12. ^ "File::Glob - Perl extension for BSD glob routine". 
  13. ^ Venners, Bill. "The Making of Python". Retrieved 14 September 2016. 
  14. ^ "Re: xmosaic experience". 
  15. ^ "Foreword for "Programming Python" (1st ed.)". 
  16. ^ "Python-Dev] SETL (was: Lukewarm about range literals)". 
  17. ^ " Top Languages". Archived from the original on 23 July 2013. 
  18. ^ "Programming Language Popularity". 
  19. ^ "TIOBE Programming Community Index for November 2011". November 2011. 
  20. ^ van Rossum, Guido (May 2008). "An Open Source App: Rietveld Code Review Tool". Retrieved 24 August 2012. ... the internal web app, which I code-named Mondrian after one of my favorite Dutch painters 
  21. ^ "An Open Source App: Rietveld Code Review Tool". Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. 
  22. ^ "Dropbox Tech Blog » Blog Archive » Welcome Guido!". 7 December 2012. Retrieved 6 September 2013. 

External links[edit]