Bill Joy

Bill Joy

William Nelson Joy (born Nov 8, 1954), commonly known as Bill Joy, is an American computer scientist. Joy co-founded Sun Microsystems in 1982 along with Vinod Khosla, Scott McNealy, Andy Bechtolsheim and Vaughan Pratt, and served as chief scientist at the company until 2003. He now has two children, Haden and Maddie.

Early career

After growing up in suburban Detroit, Michigan, Bill Joy received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan and his M.S. in EECS from UC Berkeley in 1979. [ [] ] Joy's PhD advisor was Robert Fabry.

Joy was largely responsible for the authorship of Berkeley UNIX, also known as BSD, from which spring many modern forms of UNIX, including FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD. Apple Computer has also based much of the Mac OS X operating system line on BSD technology. Some of his most notable contributions were the vi editor, NFS, and the csh shell.

Joy's prowess as a computer programmer is legendary, with an oft-told anecdote that he wrote the vi editor in a weekend. Joy denies this assertion.Fact|date=July 2008 The mythopoesis continues, with Eric Schmidt, at the time CEO of Novell, while interviewed in PBS's documentary Nerds 2.0.1, inflating the accomplishment to Bill Joy having rewritten BSD in a weekend.


In 1982, Joy co-founded Sun Microsystems.

According to a article, during the early 1980s DARPA had contracted the company Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN) to add TCP/IP to Berkeley UNIX. Joy had been instructed to plug BBN's stack into Berkeley Unix, but he refused to do so, as he had a low opinion of BBN's TCP/IP. So, Joy wrote his own high-performance TCP/IP stack. According to John Gage,

BBN had a big contract to implement TCP/IP, but their stuff didn't work, and Joy's grad student stuff worked. So they had this big meeting and this grad student in a T-shirt shows up, and they said, 'How did you do this?' And Bill said, 'It's very simple — you read the protocol and write the code.'"

Rob Gurwitz, who was working at BBN at the time, disputes this version of events. [ [ BSD Unix: Power to the people, from the code - ] ]

In 1986, Joy was awarded a Grace Murray Hopper Award by the ACM for his work on the Berkeley UNIX Operating System.

Joy was also a primary figure in the development of the SPARC microprocessors, the Java programming language, Jini / JavaSpaces and JXTA.

On September 9, 2003 Sun announced that Bill Joy was leaving the company and that he "is taking time to consider his next move and has no definite plans".

Technology concerns

In 2000 Joy gained notoriety with the publication of his article in "Wired Magazine", "Why the future doesn't need us", in which he declared, in what some have described as a "neo-Luddite" position, that he was convinced that growing advances in genetic engineering and nanotechnology would bring risks to humanity. He argued that intelligent robots would replace humanity, at the very least in intellectual and social dominance, in the relatively near future. He advocates a position of relinquishment of GNR (Genetics, Nanotechnology, and Robotics) technologies, rather than going into an arms race between negative uses of the technology and defense against those negative uses (good nano-machines patrolling and defending against Grey Goo "bad" nano-machines). A bar-room discussion of these technologies with inventor and Technological Singularity thinker Ray Kurzweil started to set his thinking along this path. He states in his essay that during the conversation, he became surprised that other serious scientists were considering such possibilities likely, and even more astounded at what he felt was a lack of considerations of the contingencies. After bringing the subject up with a few more acquaintances, he states that he was further alarmed by what he felt was the fact that although many people considered these futures possible or probable, that very few of them shared as serious a concern for the dangers as he seemed to. This concern lead to his in-depth examination of the issue and other's positions on it, and eventually, to his current activities regarding it.

Despite this he has become a venture capitalist, investing in GNR technology companies. He has also raised a specialty venture fund to address the dangers of Pandemic diseases, such as H5N1 Avian influenza and Bioterrorist threats. In 2006, he was awarded the "Lifeboat Foundation Guardian Award" for developing this biosafety venture fund and other actions. [ [ Lifeboat Foundation Guardian Award] ]

Post-Sun activities

In 1999 Joy co-founded a venture capital firm, HighBAR Ventures, with two Sun colleagues: Andreas Bechtolsheim and Roy Thiele-Sardiña. In January 2005 he was named a partner in venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. He has once said, "My method is to look at something that seems like a good idea and assume it's true". [ [ Shirky: A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy ] ]


External links

* [ Bill Joy at Dropping Knowledge] View Bill Joy's answers to the 100 questions at Dropping Knowledge's Table of Free Voices event in Berlin, 2006.
* [ Big Picture TV] Free video clips of Bill Joy
* [ Software Isn't Complete Unless It's Secure, BusinessWeek, September 26, 2006]
* [ BSD Unix: Power to the people, from the code] - Salon article
* [ "Why the future doesn't need us"] , "Wired", April 2000
* [ Interview] "Wired", December 2003
* [ Bill Joy's Hi-Tech Warning]
* [ Bill Joy] ,
* [ Co-founder Joy to leave Sun] ,, September 9 2003
* [ "Joy After Sun"] , interview with Brent Schlender for "Fortune", September 29 2003
* [ Internet archive of biography from Sun Microsystems in 2003]
* [ CNet Interview: Talking tech with Bill Joy] - 31 March 2005
* [ NerdTV interview] (video, audio, and transcript available) - 30 June 2005
* [ An Introduction to Display Editing with Vi]
* [ The Six Webs, 10 Years On - speech at MIT Emerging Technologies conference]
* [ Computer History Museum, 11-Jan-2006: Sun Founders Panel]
** [ Sun Feature Story: The Fab Four Reunites] (webcast of the event)
* [ Joy's University of Michigan Profile]
* [ Nerds 2.0.1]
* [ Excerpts from a 1999 Linux Magazine interview regarding the development of vi]

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