John Gilmore is probably best known as an activist for freedom of speech on the net, as one of the co-founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation or EFF .
He was Sun Microsystems' employee number five, the first person hired after the company founders. At Sun, he worked on both hardware and software, wrote the Forth-based bootstrap ROM code and co-authored RFC 951 defining bootp, which eventually evolved into DHCP. He was also involved in free software, porting GNU Emacs and other programs to the Sun environment. His time at Sun made John a millionaire, leaving him free to pursue other interests.
Among his projects:
- co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
- co-founder of Cygnus Solutions, a support company for free software, eventually bought by Red Hat
- helped start the alt.* Usenet hierarchy; John's system was the first to carry it
- helped start the cypherpunks; John's site hosted the original mailing list
- project leader for FreeS/WAN, a Linux implementation of IPsec and opportunistic encryption
- sponsor of the EFF DES Cracker project
- campaign to boycott the US census, since government has historically mis-used information
- two lawsuits against US government for demanding ID to travel, which John says is unconstitutional, Gilmore v. Ashcroft & Gilmore v. Gonzales
- wrote pdtar, which eventually became GNU tar
- primary maintainer of the GNU debugger for some years in the 90s
- various other free software projects, currently including GNU radio and the Gnash flash player
- work on drug policy reform
John maintains a web site with a number of things on it, including a personal home page. His toad.com may be the only personal domain listed among the 100 oldest .com domains.