Jimmy Wales

By: Mick Yates

Jimmy Donal "Jimbo" Wales (born in 1966, Huntsville, Alabama) is an American Internet entrepreneur best known for his role in the founding of Wikipedia. Wales' father worked as a grocery store manager while his mother, Doris, and his grandmother, Erma, ran a small private school, in the tradition of the one-room schoolhouse, where Wales received his education. From 1994-2000, after taking his PhD, Wales served as research director at Chicago Options Associates, a futures and options trader. By "speculating on interest rate and foreign-currency fluctuations" he had soon earned enough to "support himself and his wife for the rest of their lives", During this time one of the projects Wales undertook was the creation of a dot-com erotic search engine, Bomis, that later helped in the initial funding for Wikipedia.

In March 2000, he started a peer-reviewed, open- content encyclopedia, Nupedia ("the free encyclopedia"). Then in 2001, after Larry Sanger publicly proposed the idea of using a "wiki" to create an encyclopedia, Wales installed wiki software on a server and authorized Sanger to pursue the project under his supervision. Sanger dubbed the project "Wikipedia" and, with Wales, laid down the founding principles, content and established an Internet-based community of contributors during that year. Wikipedia was initially intended to be a wiki- based site for collaboration on early encyclopedic content for submission to Nupedia, but Wikipedia's rapid growth quickly overshadowed Nupedia's development.

In mid-2003, Wales set up the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organization based in St. Petersburg, Florida, to support Wikipedia and its younger sibling projects. Wales has explained his motivations about Wikipedia, "Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing." Wales was the first person listed in the "Scientists & Thinkers" section of the May 8, 2006 special edition of Time ("The lives and ideas of the world's most influential people"), listing 100 influential people. Not avoiding controversery (he famously edited his own biography on Wikipedia, only to be "found out" in 2005 and then having to apologize), he has nevertheless had the vision, inspiration and drive to help create entirely new ways for developing, sharing and finding information. One suspects his story is still to fully unfold.

Extracted and edited from the Wikipedia!