Congratulations Rich Hickey

Rich Hickey, creator of Clojure, has announced his retirement from commercial software development. It looks like he’ll be still active in clojure development, but as an independent developer.

I met Rich in the 90’s when I took his Advanced C++ continuing education course at NYU. I was running a C development team, and we were adopting C++, so a few of us took the class. The most memorable part was the last few sessions where he described a GUI object-oriented design built around a dynamic object system (ala Self or Javascript) using his functor library.

The next 15 years of my career were dominated by C++ where my code was heavily influenced by what I learned in this class.

In 2007, when I saw his presentation at the NYC Lisp group, I reached out to see if he wanted to present to the Western MA Developer Group. Since Clojure was still relatively new, he was willing to come to present to us.

We had about 30-40 people there. One of our members, Chas Emerick, hosted the event. He went on to be a prolific contributor to the clojure ecosystem and co-author of O’Reilly’s Clojure Programming book.

I helped promote the event by writing my 20 Days of Clojure series. For the time, that was a lot of clojure content.

He came in March 2008 and blew the doors off with an elegant, concurrency-safe ant simulation:

Here is my original write-up of the meeting.

I still keep in touch with many of the developers that were there that day and we still talk about it. I can see the influence in their work.

The most important clojure code I wrote was the code I used to apply to FogCreek/Trello. They gated their application with a programming question, and I answered it in clojure because it looked like I would need something like a BigInteger in my answer, and clojure makes that easy. I also knew that the FogCreek/Trello team liked functional programming.

We might not all have adopted clojure (we opted for F# at Atalasoft and one of our engineers went on to become a Microsoft F# MVP), but our career trajectories were changed by that day when Rich opened our minds to what was possible with modern functional programming.

Thank you Rich and congratulations.