The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Bill Joy

William N. Joy (born 1954), commonly known as Bill Joy, co-founded Sun Microsystems in 1982 along with Vinod Khosla, Scott McNealy and Andy Bechtolsheim, and served as chief scientist at the company until 2003.

Joy received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan and his M.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from UC Berkeley.

Bill Joy was the person 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. Some of his most notable contributions were TCP/IP, the vi editor and the csh shell.

In the early 1980s, DARPA had contracted BBN to add TCP/IP, devised by Vinton Cerf and Bob Kahn, into Berkeley UNIX. Joy had been instructed to plug BBN's stack into Berkeley Unix. But Joy refused to do so. In his opinion, BBN's TCP/IP wasn't good enough. So he wrote his own high-performance TCP/IP stack.

As John Gage tells it, "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.'" Others dispute this version of events.

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, and JINI.

In 2000 he gained notoriety with the publication of his article in Wired Magazine, "Why the future doesn't need us", in which he put forward, in what some have described as a "neo-Luddite" position, that he was convinced by the growing advances in genetic engineering and nanotechnology that intelligent robots would replace humanity, at the very least in intellectual and societal dominance, in the relatively near future.

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

In January 2005 Joy was named a partner in venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB).

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Last updated: 05-09-2005 20:52:41