Simon Tatham: About Me

[back to home page]

Simon the collection of historical fact

Births, marriages and deaths: 3rd May 1977, none, and none, respectively.

Education: changed primary schools three times but only went to three primary schools, due to doing the same one (Dolphin, Hurst) twice. Then Leighton Park, Reading; Cambridge University; hard knocks. Mostly in that order.

Employment: three varied and mostly interesting summer jobs at Digital (as was), followed by my current full-time job at ARM.

Simon the human being

I live in Cambridge (UK), near a large group of friends who I met at the University. Some of those friends form the sinister Green End organisation and the mysterious Tartarus. I also know some number of the users of Monochrome. (See this transcript for one of the funniest things I ever saw happen on Monochrome...)

I played the violin as a child; I gave up when I was 14 or 15, because I got tired of the pressure to practise and there were other things I wanted to do with my time. I still maintain some interest in things musical, though, which is why I created Gonville.

When I was about ten, I was forever dropping and breaking things. I was the clumsiest kid I knew. Then one day I saw one of those "never a dull moment" books, with a double spread on how to learn to juggle, and I picked up three balls and went "Right! Nobody is ever going to call me clumsy again." (It didn't work. Any time I haven't got three balls in my hands, I can still drop and break things with the best of them.) I don't juggle so much these days, but I can still do it reasonably well if the occasion arises.

I like science fiction, or magical fantasy, depending what mood I'm in. I like destructive computer games which don't require thought, because my job and several of my other hobbies require thought, and sometimes I like to switch off and blast things mindlessly. (That said, I'm fonder of puzzle games than I used to be; I maintain a collection of them to prove it.)

I have no sense of smell. Most people who find this out tend to ask me the same questions, so here's a FAQ about it.

I also suffer from coeliac disease, which means I can't eat gluten (found in most wheat products and a few other things) or else my intestines begin to tear themselves apart.

Simon the geek

I've been doing computers for most of my life, ever since my well-meaning parents bought a 16K Spectrum when I was five and I started reading the manual. By the time I was nine, I could write reasonably complex things that worked, and my dad had attempted to teach me C (unsuccessfully; eight-year-olds don't take well to pointer arithmetic). By the time I was fifteen, I was writing serious things that the people and occasionally small businesses around me were finding useful; by the time I started at university, it was clear that I wasn't going to be concentrating on my maths degree nearly as much as on my free-time hacking. Now I work at ARM, but I still try to find time to benefit the rest of humanity when I'm not at work.

Type "man console_codes" at a Linux machine, and in the section that describes the escape sequences for changing the colour palette, you'll see a frowny bemoaning the fact that the sequences conflict with established policy on escape sequence layouts. This was my fault: those sequences were my contribution to the Linux kernel, along with an enhancement or two to the virtual console scrollback.

I was sitting on one of the Intel x86 assembly language newsgroups one day when someone started bemoaning the lack of a decent free Intel assembler (all of them being either not decent, or not free, or not either). Being a young and idealistic student, I accepted the challenge and found myself becoming the primary developer in the Netwide Assembler Project. I left the project a few years ago, because a full time job made it infeasible; it still seems to be active, though.

Once upon a time, I had a vision that maybe it would be possible to take the Linux telnet implementation, and the xterm front end, and hack them together to form a terminal-emulator-and-telnet client which should then be relatively easy to port to Win32. So I tried it. It was an utter failure: I have never found two more mutually hostile pieces of software. So I re-implemented a terminal emulator, and Telnet, from scratch, and produced a thing called STel. While avoiding revising for my exams in 1998, I accidentally implemented an SSH back end, and PuTTY was born. It's still an active project.

Those are the highlights of my various computer-related activities, but there are quite a few lesser things I've done. Return to my home page and browse around the rest of my site if you're interested.

(comments to
(thanks to chiark for hosting this page)
(last modified on Mon Jul 11 15:37:12 2011)