One for All and All for One

Steven J. Searle
Web Master, TRON Web

On September 11, 2001, the Takeda Foundation announced TRON Architecture designer and TRON Project Leader Ken Sakamura, GNU Project founder and Free Software Foundation leader Richard Stallman, and Linux kernel designer and Transmeta Corporation Fellow Linus Torvalds would be jointly award the 100 million yen Takeda Foundation award for "Techno-Entrepreneurial Achievements for Social/Economic Well-Being" in December 2001. This is the second award for Prof. Sakamura, who earlier this year was awarded a special prize as part of the 33rd Ichimura Prize awards. It is also the second monetary award for Richard Stallman, who received a MacArthur Foundation fellowship and a $240,000 genius grant in 1990. As far as TRON Web can discern, this is the first monetary award that Linus Torvalds has received for his development of the Linux kernel, but he is the youngest of the group, so there is still lots of time to receive more awards in the future. He will most certainly receive some award from the Finnish government when he reaches Prof. Sakamura's age.

What's really significant about the Takeda Foundation award is that the TRON Project, which is not widely known among even "technically conversant" folks in North America and Europe, has been jointly honored with two open technology projects that are well known in the West. Thus the stage is set once again for young computers specialists to ask on Internet bulletin boards, "what's TRON?" Someone will tell them that it's a failed Japanese project [wrong] that the Japanese intended to use to take over the world [wrong again]. Someone else will misinform people that it is now used only in Japan [wrong yet again]. One can only hope that an informed person will introduce these people to TRON Web, where they can learn: (1) the TRON Project has been highly successful, probably the most successful technology project launched in Japan in the 1980s; (2) the goal is the project is to create an infrastructure for computerizing human society in the 21st century, not taking over the world; and (3) software based on the TRON Architecture, i.e., ITRON, is used in Japanese-made goods exported throughout the world.

This is all predictable, but I personally hope there is a second stage in these Internet discussions. I hope someone asks for more information about TRON. I hope someone asks, why can't we start hacking TRON code in the U.S. and/or Europe? It's an open architecture and royalty free, isn't it? Yes, it is. Moreover, it's the only open technology project that has as its main goal the development of "real-time hypernetworks." On top of that, it is the only computer project to have implemented a new personal computing model since the 1980s--the BTRON-specification platform that is better suited for PDAs and other compact applications than anything available today. In short, the TRON Project still has a lot to offer to the rest of the world. Since GNU, Linux, and TRON are not direct competitors of each other, what I'm trying to say here is that it would be nice if Ken Sakamura, Richard Stallman, and Linus Torvalds acted like Alexandre Dumas' Three Musketeers and exclaimed "one for all and all for one." Now there would be something that would make the dark forces that believe in software monopolies quiver in their boots--close cooperation between the TRON, GNU, and Linux projects!

But three musketeers don't make an army. I also hope that next year the Takeda Foundation will choose to continue honor other creators of free/open software that have prevented the software monopolists from taking control of the Internet and personal computing. The projects that come to mind are the Apache server software project and FreeBSD, the latter of which has enabled Apple Computer Inc. to build a very powerful operating system that promises to revive the company's fortunes. Such awards legitimize free software, which software monopolists try to portray as an anti-capitalist conspiracy against them and their companies, and they highlight its contribution to development of human society. It should not be forgotten here that the biggest names in commercial software, who now have amassed wealth greater than the gross domestic product of most nations on earth, began their businesses using information and/or source code that others made freely available. Others gave their young companies a "break."

Free/open software projects greatly benefit human society--and they are here to stay.