Sun Co-Founder Joy Departing Company

Bill Joy was a computer wunderkind in Ann Arbor and Berkeley, before joining
his Stanford cohorts to create Sun Microsystems. Now at 48, the decision has
been made that Joy will be moving onto new ventures.

On Tuesday, Sun Microsystems announced that its
co-founder and chief scientist Bill Joy will be leaving the company.

Joy joined Sun back in 1982, the year the company was created and has been
a leading designer of Sun’s key technologies, including Solaris software,
SPARC microprocessors and Java technology.

“Joy’s responsibilities will transition to Greg Papadopoulos, chief
technology officer and executive vice president, Sun Microsystems,” Sun said
in a press release on Tuesday.

In Sun’s statement, Joy was quoted as saying “the time is now right for me to
move on to different challenges.” It’s not clear if there was a clash of
ideas, or if Joy simply decided he wanted to move onto other opportunities.

For its part, Sun said while it values Joy’s contributions over the past 21
years, it still has an excellent technical and engineering staff.
Papadopoulos will be able to lean on the 12 Sun Fellows and 80 engineers,
including James Gosling, the man credited with designing the Java

The seminal design for the Unix workstation was developed by the co-founders
of Sun, several who were graduate students at Stanford University. The name
Sun originally stood for Stanford University Network, and the other founders
beside Joy, included Scott McNealy, Vinod Khosla and Andy Bechtolsheim.

Prior to co-founding Sun, Joy was the designer on the Berkeley version of
the UNIX operating system, which was a pioneering kernel in the evolution of
open source operating systems and their relation to the Internet.

While at Berkeley, Joy became the principal designer of the Berkeley version
of UNIX (BSD). BSD introduced virtual memory and networking using TCP/IP to
Unix, and it became the standard operating system for educational and
research computers, including those operated by DARPA. As a result, Joy is
considered a pioneer of the open source movement, Fortune magazine once gave
him their cover with the moniker the “Edison of the Internet.”

Joy is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and has 44 patents
issued or in progress. He holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the
University of Michigan, and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer
Science from the University of California at Berkeley, according to Sun’s
Web site.

Perhaps one of the 44 patents under review will provide some clue of what’s
next for Bill Joy?

“He’s going to take some time to research several different opportunities,”
said May Petry, spokesperson for Sun Microsystems.

On the topic of the 44 patents, one question is: who holds the legal rights
to the intellectual property? While Joy played an integral role in the
development of the prospective patent technologies, he most likely did the
bulk of the work at Sun along with other colleagues and engineers of the

Petry was not able to comment on the contractual details of any of the 44
pending patents. She refused to discuss any specific ventures that Bill Joy
may pursue.

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