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Richard Matthew Stallman, often known by his initials, rms, is an American software freedom activist and programmer.
He campaigns for software to be distributed in a manner such that its users receive the freedoms to use, study, distribute and modify that software.
Software that ensures these freedoms is termed free software.
Stallman launched the GNU Project, founded the Free Software Foundation, developed the GNU Compiler Collection and GNU Emacs, and wrote the GNU General Public License.
In the first edition of the Hacker's Dictionary, he wrote, "' Richard Stallman' is just my mundane name; you can call me 'rms'." Stallman graduated from Harvard magna cum laude earning a BA in Physics in 1974.
He then enrolled at MIT as a graduate student, but abandoned his pursuit of graduate degrees while remaining a programmer at the MIT AI Laboratory.
When MIT's Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) installed a password control system in 1977, Stallman cracked the password system to reset passwords to null strings and sent users messages informing them of the removal of the password system.
Although Stallman boasted of the success of his campaign for many years afterward, passwords ultimately triumphed.
During this time, Stallman was also a volunteer Laboratory Assistant in the biology department at Rockefeller University.
Although he was already moving toward a career in mathematics or physics, his teaching professor at Rockefeller thought he would have a future as a biologist.