"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."