From his web page (http://www.cs.bell-labs.com/who/rob/):
Rob Pike, well known for his appearances on "Late Night with David
Letterman", is also a Member of Technical Staff at Bell Laboratories
in Murray Hill, New Jersey, where he has been since 1980, the same
year he won the Olympic silver medal in Archery. In 1981 he wrote
the first bitmap window system for Unix systems, and has since written
ten more. With Bart Locanthi he designed the Blit terminal; with
Brian Kernighan he wrote The Unix Programming
Environment and The Practice of Programming. A
shuttle mission nearly launched a gamma-ray telescope he designed.
He is a Canadian citizen and has never written a program that uses
This is also the blurb
that gets used to introduce him in
announcements about talks he gives.
Some of this information is a bit out of date. (My favorite bit on the
web page is a video, made in 1982, where he explains how to use a
mouse. He's really an employee of Google these days, but Bell Labs
hasn't taken away his web page yet. He designed a lot of the Plan 9
Operating System, and unlike most Google engineers who use Linux on
their desktop, he sometimes uses it. He also uses his Mac quite a bit.
He's rather annoyed at the publisher of The Unix Programming
Environment, since they inexplicably removed many of the quotes
from the example scripts in the book in some printings. If you want a
copy of it, make sure it's one of the really old printings, or one of
the really recent printings.
I've heard stories that when he was younger, he always wore a pair of
He once told me that his favorite haircut of all time was one which was long on one side, and
a crew cut on the other side. If you looked at him in profile, he
looked either like a hippie or a member of the military, and head on,
I guess he just looked kinda weird. I haven't actually seen it, but
apparently it was an amazing sight to behold.