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Advogato.org: Interview: Donald E.Knuth

Jan 25, 2000, 15:28 (5 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Raph Levien)

[ Thanks to S.Ramaswamy for this link. ]

"This week, Advogato had the pleasure and honor of interviewing Prof. Donald E. Knuth. He is the author of the TeX typesetting system as well as The Art of Computer Programming and a number of deep, insightful papers and books. The interview took place by phone on a rainy California winter day. The topics covered the freeness of TeX and its fonts, how TeX's innovations have slowly diffused into commercial systems, some history of math typesetting, the design of TeX from the beginning as an archival system, literate programming in the age of the Web, MMIX and the Transmeta chip, how to avoid generating inscrutable error messages, and taking the TeX ideas to a broader community. Read below to find more about a remarkable person."

"Advogato: The first questions that I have are about free software. TeX was one of the first big projects that was released as free software and had a major impact. These days, of course, it's a big deal. But I think when TeX came out it was just something you did, right?"

"Prof. Knuth: I saw that the whole business of typesetting was being held back by proprietary interests, and I didn't need any claim to fame. I had already been successful with my books and so I didn't have to stake it all on anything. So it didn't matter to me whether or not whether I got anything financial out of it."

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