MacArthur Fellows Program

Richard M. Stallman

Computer Programmer | Class of 1990

Computer Programmer
Cambridge, Massachusetts
37 at time of award
Published August 1, 1990

About Richard's Work

Richard Stallman is a computer programmer and the founder of the Free Software Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting computer users' rights to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs.

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has developed an operating system called GNU (a recursive acronym for GNU’s Not Unix), which is compatible with UNIX. GNU is free software that can be copied, redistributed, or changed. Variant GNU systems, which use the Linux kernel and are often called “Linux systems,” have been in use since 1994; the GNU system was first released in 1996. Stallman is the principal author of the GNU Compiler Collection, a portable optimizing compiler that was designed to support diverse architectures and multiple languages. The compiler now supports over thirty different architectures and seven programming languages.


Stallman is the president of the Free Software Foundation. He also helped found the League for Programming Freedom, an organization of programmers working to preserve the freedom to write software.  He is the author of Free Software, Free Society (2001). Stallman received a B.A. (1974) from Harvard University.

Recent News

In September 2019, Stallman resigned from his positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Free Software Foundation.

Last updated September, 2019

Select News Coverage of Richard M. Stallman
More Fellows

View All 1990 Fellows

Stay Informed
Sign up for periodic news updates and event invitations.

Connect with us on social media or view all of our social media content in one place.

The privacy of your data is important to us. We've updated our privacy policies in response to General Data Protection Regulation.