Jamie Zawinski

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Jamie W. Zawinski (born November 3, 1968[1] in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), commonly known as jwz, is a former professional American computer programmer responsible for significant contributions to the free software projects Mozilla and XEmacs, and early versions of the Netscape Navigator web browser. He maintains the XScreenSaver project which provides screenblanking for Unix-like computer operating systems using the X Window System.

Zawinski is currently the proprietor of the DNA Lounge, a nightclub in San Francisco.



Zawinski's early career included stints with Scott Fahlman's Lisp research group at Carnegie Mellon University, Expert Technologies, Inc. and Robert Wilensky and Peter Norvig's group at Berkeley. In the early 1990s, he was hired by Richard P. Gabriel's Lucid Inc. where he was eventually put to work on Lucid's Energize C++ IDE. Lucid decided to use GNU Emacs as the text editor for their IDE due to its free license, popularity, and extensibility. Zawinski and the other programmers made fundamental changes to GNU Emacs to add new functionality. Tensions over how to merge these patches into the main tree eventually led to the fork of the project into GNU Emacs and XEmacs.[2]

Zawinski worked on the early releases of Netscape Navigator, particularly the 1.0 release of the Unix version. He became quite well known in the early days of the world wide web through an easter egg in the Netscape browser: typing "about:jwz" into the address box would take the user to his home page (a similar trick worked for other Netscape staffers). In addition, Zawinski says he created the name "Mozilla".[3]

Zawinski was a major proponent of opening the source code of the Mozilla browser, but became disillusioned with the project when others decided to rewrite the code instead of incrementally improving it. When Netscape was acquired by AOL he wrote a famous bulletin explaining the nature of the Free Software Mozilla code.[4] He resigned from Netscape Communications Corporation on April 1, 1999.[5] His current occupation is managing his DNA Lounge nightclub in San Francisco.

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