Sebastopol, CA--Larry Wall, the creator of several popular free
software programs, has won the first Free Software Foundation Award for
the Advancement of Free Software. Wall was honored for "his many
contributions to the advancement of freely distributed software,"
according to the
Free Software Foundation.
The award was granted on October 9 in at Masschusetts Institute of
Technology. Wall's most well-known product is Perl, a powerful
scripting language used by system administrators and web developers for
sophisticated text manipulation, system management and active Web
pages. There are about one million Perl programmers worldwide, with a
core of more than 450 on the Perl porters mailing list, who are most
active in its development and maintenance.
Wall, Senior Software Developer at O'Reilly & Associates, also won the
award for creating rn, a widely-used news reader; patch, a development
and distribution tool; metaconfig, which writes Configure scripts; and
the Warp space-war game.
In granting the award, the Free Software Foundation said, "Larry Wall
has always promoted keeping his implementations free for all to study,
enhance, and build on, without restrictions, and the freedom for all to
benefit in whatever ways they can from his products." They called Perl
"a tool that takes the UNIX ideas of flexibility and portability
further than almost any program before it."
Tim O'Reilly, founder and CEO, O'Reilly & Associates, stated:
Larry's influence on modern computing goes well beyond Perl.
The Internet, and in fact much of the innovation that is
driving the current boom in Silicon Valley and Redmond, largely
grew out of an academic and research community in which the
sharing of source code, and the ability to build on the work of
your peers, was taken for granted. Larry's patch program
allowed people to share modifications to existing programs and
to merge divergent source trees, encouraging a style of
distributed software development that has proven to be the most
powerful methodology available. Similarly, Larry's
idiosyncratic Perl language turned out to be a key enabler for
the explosion of active content on the World Wide Web. While
industry hype focussed on Java and ActiveX, Perl quietly stole
the market, becoming a key component of the next generation
"information applications" at Yahoo, Amazon.com, and tens of
thousands of other leading sites.
Wall has won other honors, including the Dr. Dobb's 1996 Excellence in
Programming Award, and the SAGE (System Administrators Guild) 1994
Outstanding Achievement Award. Perl won the WebTechniques/WebReview
1997 Editor's Choice Award for Scripting Language. Wall has received
wide coverage in the press, including in
Dr. Dobb's Journal.
The Free Software Foundation awards committee members are Peter Salus
(Chairman), Scott Christley, Rich Morin, Adam Richter, Richard
Stallman, and Vernor Vinge.