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Guido van Rossum

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Guido van Rossum
Van Rossum at the Dropbox headquarters in 2014
Born (1956-01-31) 31 January 1956 (age 68)[1]
The Hague,[2] Netherlands
🏳️ NationalityDutch
🎓 Alma materUniversity of Amsterdam
💼 Occupation
Computer programmer, author
👔 EmployerMicrosoft
Known forCreating the Python programming language
👩 Spouse(s)
Kim Knapp (m. 2000)
👶 Children1[3]
🏅 AwardsAward for the Advancement of Free Software (2001)
Van Rossum at the 2008 Google I/O Developer's Conference
Van Rossum at the 2006 O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON)

Guido van Rossum (Dutch: [ˈɣido vɑn ˈrɔsʏm, -səm]; born 31 January 1956) is a Dutch programmer best known as the creator of the Python programming language, for which he was the "benevolent dictator for life" (BDFL) until he stepped down from the position on 12 July 2018.[4][5] He remained a member of the Python Steering Council through 2019, and withdrew from nominations for the 2020 election.[6]

Life and education[edit]

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 received a bronze medal in 1974 in the International Mathematical Olympiad.[7] He has a brother, Just van Rossum, who is a type designer and programmer who designed the typeface used in the "Python Powered" logo.[8]

Van Rossum lives in Belmont, California, with his wife, Kim Knapp,[9] and their son.[10][11][12] According to his home page and Dutch naming conventions, the "van" in his name is capitalized when he is referred to by surname alone, but not when using his first and last name together.[13]


Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica[edit]

While working at the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI), Van Rossum wrote and contributed a glob() routine to BSD Unix in 1986[14][15] and helped develop the ABC programming language. He once stated, "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."[16] He also created Grail, an early web browser written in Python, and engaged in discussions about the HTML standard.[17]

He has worked for various research institutes, including the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in the Netherlands, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI). In May 2000, he left CNRI along with three other Python core developers to work for tech startup, which subsequently collapsed by October of the same year.[18][19] From late 2000 until 2003 he worked for Zope Corporation. In 2003 Van Rossum left Zope for Elemental Security. While there he worked on a custom programming language for the organization.[20]


From 2005 to December 2012, he worked at Google, where he spent half of his time developing the Python language. At 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.[21] He named another related software project after Gerrit Rietveld, a Dutch designer.[22] On 7 December 2012, Van Rossum left Google.[23]


In January 2013, Van Rossum started working at the cloud file storage company Dropbox.[24][25]

In October 2019, Van Rossum left Dropbox and officially retired.[26][27][28]


On 12 November 2020 Van Rossum announced that he was coming out of retirement to join the Developer Division at Microsoft. He currently holds the title Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft.[29][30][31]


In December 1989, Van Rossum had been looking for a "'hobby' programming project that would keep [him] occupied during the week around Christmas" as his office was closed when he decided to write an interpreter for a "new scripting language [he] had been thinking about lately: a descendant of ABC that would appeal to Unix/C hackers". He attributes choosing the name "Python" to "being in a slightly irreverent mood (and a big fan of Monty Python's Flying Circus)".[32]

He has explained that Python's predecessor, ABC, was inspired by SETL, noting that ABC co-developer Lambert Meertens had "spent a year with the SETL group at NYU before coming up with the final ABC design".[33]

On 12 July 2018, Van Rossum announced that he would be stepping down from the position of BDFL of the Python programming language.[34]

"Computer Programming for Everybody" proposal[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

In 2019, Python became the second most popular language on GitHub, the largest source code management website on the internet, second only to JavaScript.[35] According to a programming language popularity survey[36] it is consistently among the top 10 most mentioned languages in job postings. Furthermore, Python has been among the 10 most popular programming languages every year since 2004 according to the TIOBE Programming Community Index and got the number one spot on the index in October 2021.[37]



  1. van Rossum, Guido (31 January 2007). "(Python-Dev) Happy Birthday, Guido!". Python-Dev mailing list. Archived from the original on 8 September 2009. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  2. Hsu, Hansen (2018-04-05). "2018 Museum Fellow Guido van Rossum, Python Creator & Benevolent Dictator for Life". Computer History Museum. Archived from the original on 2018-07-24. Retrieved 2021-05-19. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  3. "Guido van Rossum". CodeCall Programming Wiki. Archived from the original on 31 October 2008.
  4. "Benevolent dictator for life". Linux Format. 1 February 2005. Archived from the original on 1 October 2006. Retrieved 1 November 2007.
  5. "Transfer of power".
  6. "Steering Council nomination: Guido van Rossum (2020 term)". 27 November 2019.
  7. "International Mathematical Olympiad". Retrieved 2022-05-23.
  8. Thomas, Jockin (May 28, 2016). "Learning Python Makes You A Better Designer: An Interview with Just van Rossum". Medium. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  9. Manheimer, Ken (6 June 2000). "(Python-Dev) Guido and Kim married". Python-Dev -- Python core developers. Archived from the original on 28 September 2010. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  10. "Guido van Rossum - Brief Bio". Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  11. "(Mailman-Announce) forwarded message from Guido van Rossum". 30 May 2000. Archived from the original on 27 May 2008. Oh, and to top it all off, I'm going on vacation. I'm getting married and will be relaxing on my honeymoon. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  12. 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. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 June 2010. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  13. van Rossum, Guido. "Guido's Personal Home Page". Retrieved 2 Feb 2018.
  14. "'Globbing' library routine". Archived from the original on 19 December 2007.
  15. "File::Glob - Perl extension for BSD glob routine". Archived from the original on 7 August 2013. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  16. Venners, Bill. "The Making of Python". Archived from the original on 1 September 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  17. "Re: xmosaic experience". Archived from the original on 28 August 2016. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  18. "Oral History of Guido van Rossum, part 2 - Computer History Museum" (PDF). Retrieved 2021-11-17.
  19. "Python 2.3.2 License A. HISTORY OF THE SOFTWARE". Retrieved 2020-11-17.
  20. "2018 Museum Fellow Guido van Rossum, Python Creator & Benevolent Dictator for Life - Computer History Museum". 5 April 2018. Archived from the original on 2018-07-24. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  21. van Rossum, Guido (May 2008). "An Open Source App: Rietveld Code Review Tool". Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 24 August 2012. ... the internal web app, which I code-named Mondrian after one of my favorite Dutch painters
  22. "An Open Source App: Rietveld Code Review Tool". Archived from the original on 17 October 2015.
  23. "Guido van Rossum". @gvanrossum. Twitter. Retrieved 15 August 2022. Today's my last day at Google. In January I start a new job at Dropbox:
  24. Constine, Josh (7 December 2012). "Dropbox Hires Away Google's Guido van Rossum, The Father Of Python". Techcrunch. Archived from the original on 9 December 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2012. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  25. "Welcome Guido!". Dropbox Tech Blog. 7 December 2012. Archived from the original on 7 September 2013. Retrieved 6 September 2013. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  26. @gvanrossum. "It's bittersweet: I'm leaving @dropbox, and am now retired. I've learned a lot during my time as an engineer here -- e.g. type annotations came from this experience -- and I'll miss working here" (Tweet). Retrieved 30 October 2019 – via Twitter. Missing or empty |date= (help)
  27. "Thank you, Guido". Dropbox Blog. Dropbox. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  28. Tung, Liam (31 October 2019). "Python programming language creator retires, saying: 'It's been an amazing ride'". ZDNet. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  29. [self-published source]
  30. @gvanrossum. "I decided that retirement was boring and have joined the Developer Division at Microsoft. To do what? Too many options to say! But it'll make using Python better for sure (and not just on Windows :-). There's lots of open source here. Watch this space" (Tweet). Retrieved 12 November 2020 – via Twitter. Missing or empty |date= (help)
  31. Lardinois, Frederic (12 November 2020). "Python creator Guido van Rossum joins Microsoft". TechCrunch.
  32. "Foreword for "Programming Python" (1st ed.)". Archived from the original on 24 July 2014. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  33. "Python-Dev] SETL (was: Lukewarm about range literals)". 29 August 2000. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  34. Fairchild, Carlie (July 12, 2018). "Guido van Rossum Stepping Down from Role as Python's Benevolent Dictator For Life". Linux Journal. Archived from the original on 13 July 2018. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  35. "The State of the Octoverse". The State of the Octoverse. Retrieved 2021-05-06. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  36. "Programming Language Popularity". Archived from the original on 12 April 2015.
  37. "index | TIOBE - The Software Quality Company".
  38. "Guido van Rossum Ontvangt NLUUG Award". NLUUG. 28 May 2003. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  39. "Guido van Rossum". Computer History Museum.
  40. "David Chaum and Guido van Rossum awarded Dijkstra Fellowship".

External links[edit]

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