Vim Developer Bram Moolenaar Dead at 62

Photo by Sebastian Bergmann via Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 2.0

By Josh Levin
Published August 6, 2023 | Updated February 18, 2024 at 10:25 am

Vim creator and maintainer Bram Moolenaar died August 3, his family announced yesterday.

“Bram was suffering from a medical condition that progressed quickly over the last few weeks,” his family stated in a post to the Vim announcement email list. Moolenaar was 62.

Moolenaar was the primary developer and maintainer of Vim, an open-source, terminal-based text editor. The software is popular among system administrators and programmers, partially because it is pre-installed on popular operating systems including some Linux distributions and MacOS.

“Bram dedicated a large part of his life to VIM and he was very proud of the VIM community that you are all part of,” the family stated. Moolenaar began work on Vim in 1988 as a fork of the Stevie editor for the Commodore Amiga computer. He released the first public version, Vim 1.14, in 1991. 

According to a presentation Moolenaar gave at the Linux2000.nl conference, the project’s name, Vim, initially stood for Vi IMitation because Moolenaar was attempting to replicate Bill Joy’s VI text editor, which was not available for the Amiga. He later changed it to Vi IMproved when he began adding features which were not present in Vi.

Moolenaar was a supporter of charityware, which is free software that encourages users to donate to a specific charity if they value the software. He distributed Vim as charityware supporting ICCF Holland, a nongovernmental organization that supports Ugandan children whose parents died of AIDS.

“Not only does this raise money, it also brings awareness about third-world problems to many people,” Moolenaar wrote. He also served as treasurer of ICCF Holland, according to the organization’s website.

Moolenaar’s funeral will take place in the Netherlands and will be held in Dutch, according to his family.

 

Correction: A previous version of this article included an inaccurate description of the Commodore Amiga.

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Josh Levin is the founder and editor in chief of The Terabyte Tribune, handling all aspects of operations and coverage. He can be reached via email at [email protected]