Richard Stallman, High-tech Prankster

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .
Richard Stallman at MIT dancing 1970s
Richard Stallman in MIT AI Lab: High-tech Prankster.

via [ Mark Szpakowski ] Also thx to [Scott Bilik].

Is this image fake? Probably is real.

Richard Stallman at MIT dancing photo Eric S Raymond comment
You can see comment by Eric Raymond (aka esr) at

the photo is credited to Neal Menschel. A Google search turns up what seems his page, apparently a photo journalist:

2022-04-10 , DonHopkins [ ] wrote:

I can't comment on Xah's web page so I'll comment here about this photo of Richard Stallman at MIT dancing:

Xah asked: is this image fake? ErgoEmacs asked: it'd be interesting to know what he's holding.

That's definitely real! It's RMS, distinctly recognizable by his prancing pose. He tends to just prance in place like that all the time, while swirling his hair with his fingers.

It looks like he's in Building NE43 (545 tech square) probably on the 9th floor in the machine room of the MIT AI Lab where he slept, holding the hand of Rodney Brooks' [ ] robot “COG” in his right hand.

MIT Robot Cog Moving Its Arms

MIT Robot Cog Moving Its Arms
Jun 3, 2019
IEEE Spectrum

MIT's Cog (1)

MIT's Cog (1)
Aug 27, 2011
Plastic Pals

Here is RMS a few years later, with a little more beard, holding a gerbil wrapped in duct tape:

jsol-rms-gerbil-liz-mg tw55

From COG's point of view, here's a photo of Henry Minsky taken from COG's video camera, with a look of trepidation about sacrificing his Dakin Bear to make s "plush" robot:

Henry Minsky cog view 9zw8
[2022-04-11 image from xardox []] “Henry Minsky has a look of trepidation at the idea of sacrificing his Dakin Bear to one of Rodney Brooks' experimental robots, “COG”. — with Dakin Bear at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). [frame grab from the skeletal robot's video camera]”