Thursday, July 29, 2010

Frank Willison Memorial Award Recipient Selected

The 2010 Frank Willison Memorial Award for Services to the Python Community has been awarded to Christian Tismer.

Christian's contributions to the technology behind Python have focused on performance. For example, he is the founder of the Stackless Python project, a micro-threading system with the first implementation of generators and continuations. You can learn more about Stackless from the project's history page and this IBM developerWorks interview with Christian by David Mertz.

Christian also co-founded PyPy, an implementation of Python in Python, with Armin Rigo and Holger Krekel. Christian worked on PyPy full time for a period, using EU funding. Later, he worked on the JIT compiler Psyco with Raymond Hettinger to create Psyco V2. Most recently, he has been employed by CCP Games to work on combining Stackless and Psyco and updating them to support 64-bit systems.

In 1997, as one of his earliest contributions to the Python community, Christian launched the Starship Python website. That was a time when setting up your own server online required considerable effort, and hosting services were nascent and expensive. Starship filled an important gap as a free playground and hosting site for Python programmers. Members of the Python Software Activity (the forerunner of the PSF) were given preference when requesting accounts on the Starship, which had the effect of increasing membership in the PSA from 60 to 300

The Starship site was quite popular (by 2000 it had over 250 "crew members"), and moved several times, with several other volunteers helping with the system administration. Old versions of the site are available through the Internet Archive Way Back Machine. A revived version is running on one of Christian's servers now, but because hosting services are much easier to find today, he is looking for another concept to give it a renewed purpose.

When he's not working on Python, Christian enjoys watching movies, reading, and practicing playing piano. You can follow him on twitter @ctismer.

About the Award

Since 2002, O'Reilly Media has presented the Frank Willison Award for Contributions to the Python Community to someone who has done outstanding work for the Python community. The award was established in memory of Frank Willison, a Python enthusiast and O'Reilly editor-in-chief, who died in July 2001. Previous recipients include Martin von Löwis (2008) and Steve Holden (2007).

More details about the award, including a complete list of past recipients, are available on the Python web site at

Updated: The award is for 2010, not 2009.