25 Years of Python at CWI

At the ACM website an interview was published with Guido van Rossum on 25 years of Python.

Publication date
4 Mar 2015

At the ACM website an interview was published with Guido van Rossum on 25 years of Python. This popular programming language originates from research institute Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in Amsterdam, where Guido van Rossum designed Python in December 1989 and finished the first working draft some months after that in 1990 (before the first public release of version 0.9.0 on 20 February 1991).

Science journalist Bennie Mols, author of the ACM article, told his listeners more about the history of Python on Radio 5 in the programme De Kennis van Nu on 25 February 2015.

Mols also published an article in NRC on 2 March, 'De Python-dictator voor het leven', and in NRC.next, 'what: if(c&&e): "guido" (were > | |) hit.by a>bus?'


Guido van Rossum. Source: G. van Rossum.


Bennie Mols wrote for ACM: "For many years, Python has appeared on the list of the 10 most-utilized computer languages in the world. Companies like Dropbox, Google, Mozilla, and Walt Disney  Animation Studios are large users of Python, as are banks, universities and institutions such as the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research).  

Dutch software engineer Guido van Rossum created the language in 1990 while working at the Centre for Mathematics and Computer Science (CWI) in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He named the language after the British comedy series Monty Python's Flying Circus.

In 1995, van Rossum moved from the Netherlands to the U.S., where he worked as a software engineer at the U.S. National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI), and Google. Since December 2012, he has been worked for the cloud service Dropbox in San Francisco. In 2001,  he received the Free Software Foundation’s Advancement of Free Software Award, and in 2006 he was recognized by ACM as a Distinguished Engineer." 

On Python's success Van Rossum told Mols: "Python is easy to learn and easy to use, and it works in a very interactive way. Computer programmers can get new results very quickly. It’s also a great tool for scientists who work interactively with data. Furthermore, it has been very important that from the beginning, Python has been available according to the open source philosophy, even before the term "open source" was invented. Python users feel part of a community and are very active in making improvements."

(Source: Bennie Mols for ACM, with the author's permission.)

For the whole interview with Van Rossum, who spoke about developing Python and his passion for software engineering, see the interview that was published on 24 February 2015 on the ACM website.

More information

- Python website

- History of Python, a blogpost by Guido van Rossum (2009)

- In 2007, Van Rossum visited CWI for a lecture on Python 3000

- Wikipedia on Python