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Guido van Rossum

Guido van Rossum

Dutch programmer and creator of Python programming language

Guido van Rossum (born 31 January 1956) is a Dutch computer 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. He is currently employed by Google, where he spends half his time working on Python development.


Van Rossum was born and grew up in the Netherlands, where he received a masters 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 US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Gaithersburg, Maryland, and the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI), Reston, Virginia.

In December 2005, Van Rossum was hired by Google.[4] He wrote a web-based code-review tool for Google in Python.

Van Rossum received the 2001 Award for the Advancement of Free Software from the Free Software Foundation (FSF) at the 2002 FOSDEM conference in Brussels, Belgium. Guido received a NLUUG Award in May 2003. In 2006 he was recognized as a Distinguished Engineer by the Association for Computing Machinery.

Personal life

Guido van Rossum is the brother of Just van Rossum, a type designer and also a programmer. Just van Rossum designed the font that is used in the "Python Powered" logo. Currently Guido lives in California together with his American wife Kim Knapp and their son Orlijn.


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.


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).

In 2000 he further wrote:

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

Computer Programming for Everybody

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

Arguably, several of these ambitions have since been realized. Python has grown to become a popular programming language, particularly in the Internet environment.


January 31, 1956
Guido van Rossum was born in Haarlem.


Further Resources


Internet Programming with Python, with CD-ROM

Aaron Watters, Guido van Rossum


Learning Python

Guido van Rossum, Python Development Team


Oral History of Guido Van Rossum Part 2


Oral History of Guido van Rossum, part 1


Python Essential Reference

David Beazley, Guido van Rossum



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