When thinking of famous people associated with the word Python, many people’s minds will immediately head to Monty Python: John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael What’sHisName, the Terry that writes music, the other Terry whose movies keep getting weirder if that’s even possible, and the dead one that most Americans don’t remember even though he was the star of Life of Brian. (Of course, that’s what goes through most people’s minds. We know that these masters are named John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, and Graham Chapman.)
While the Python coding language was named after these comedians, that was more than 25 years ago. Today, for those who have learned to code, there is one big Python out there that you need to know about: Guido.
Guido van Rossum
Guido is the author of Python. If you’ve ever wondered “how can someone create a new coding language that ends up getting used by millions of people?” just ask him. He’s also the Monty Python fan who named it Python and started the tradition of hiding obscure Python references in the code.
van Rossum was born in the Netherlands and earned a master’s degree in computer science. After he worked on ABC (another coding language), he was bored one Christmas break and started Python in December of 1989. His intention the entire time was to a language that was easy to learn and as close to English as possible. It was also his intention that the code remain open source so that it could work for the betterment of mankind.
Moving Python Forward
Guido van Rossum was employed by Google from 2005 until 2012, working on the continued development of Python. You might wonder what’s to be done on a coding language after it’s released into the wild, especially if it’s open source. Well, there’s always room for improvement. Before his time with Google, Python 2.0 was released in 2000, and while at Google Python 3.0 was released in 2008. While Python 3 is powerful, a large amount of existing code is not compatible with 3, so many coders work with versions of 2.
When no one owns a language, it can be hard to say who gets the final say when big decisions have to be made. That’s where Benevolent Dictators For Life, or BDFLs, come in. These are the go-to programmers who can help communities make the right decisions about the future of the language. Guido is BDFL of Python, having authored the language and seen it through two major updates and countless minor ones. Considering that Guido van Rossum’s creation was always intended to be open source and free for everyone, we’re big fans of the BDFL!
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