Richard Matthew Stallman is a software engineer, who is founder of the GNU project and the Free Software Foundation. He is a 1974 Harvard University Physics graduate. The GNU project was primarily an ethical initiative which Stallman announced in September 1983 on net.unix-wizards and net.usoft. He began his announcement: "Starting this Thanksgiving I am going to write a complete Unix-compatible software system called GNU (for Gnu's Not Unix), and give it away free to everyone who can use it. Contributions of time, money, programs and equipment are greatly needed." This announcement, is widely thought of as the launch of the free software movement, although its deep roots lie in hacker culture.
Stallman is a tireless campaigner against software patents and what he views as the excessive encumbrances of copyright. He is a developer of the free text editor Emacs.