Cover image for Actual 10x Engineers

Actual 10x Engineers

elmuerte profile image Michiel Hendriks ・3 min read

Earlier this month Fabrice Bellard released QuickJS. Which is a Javascript runtime, which is almost ES2019 complete, that you can embed in your application. This is no small feat.

In the past week or so there has been a lot of discussion about 10x engineers. While the concept of 10x engineers is flawed in numerous ways, there are software developers who have a truly amazing track record of work.

Bellard's QuickJS release started a discussion on hackernews about great developers who have done amazing work.

Fabrice Bellard

So let's start with Fabrice. His website lists the great things he created/started. His work is not just in a single domain.

He created FFmpeg, which is the basis for a lot of audio video software out there. There is now obviously a whole project team which keeps improving this.

Bellard also created the QEMU, a generic machine emulator and virtualizer. Which has been a major player in virtual machine hosts.

And then there are a whole bunch of other projects like a LTE/NR Base Station, a PC emulator in JavaScript, ASN1 compiler, etc.

Dan J. Bernstein

Also known as djb. Not only did he sue the US government about the export laws around cryptography, and won, he also create a lot of great software.

His main field is cryptography. Creating algorithms/ciphers like Sals20, ChaCha20, Curve25519. And a whole bunch of research.

On his software resume is a lot of really secure software, which is often still used despite not having had any updates for years. It includes: qmail, a SMTP server; djbdns, a DNS server; ezmlm, a mailing list server.

qmail is probably the most notable. It has not received significant updates for a really long time. Only a few bugs have been found, none of them deemed as a security bug.

Linus Torvalds

Probably the most well known person of this list. He started the Linux kernel, and is still actively working on it and managing the project.

But he also created Git because he needed a decentralized version control system that suited his needs.

Richard Stallman

Probably mostly known for his activism. But when he original started the GNU project there was not a lot of software he could use within his idea of Free Software.

He had to write this own compiler (which became GCC), his own debugger (GDB), a standard C library (glibc), and a whole bunch of other parts in the GNU userland. He also created GNU Emacs.

Ludvig Strigeus

One of the younger guys on this list.

He is one of the original developers of ScummVM, a re-implementation of the LucasArts Scumm game engine. These days ScummVM has grown to a generic VM for various older graphical adventure games, not just Scumm based games.

Ludvig also started the OpenTTD project, which is a reverse engineered implementation of the Chris Sawyer video game Transport Tycoon Deluxe. The community continued his work, and OpenTTD is now available as a fully standalone video game.

One of the most popular BitTorrent clients on MS Windows is probably uTorrent. This client was also written by Ludvig.

And then there is this thing called Spotify. Ludvig was there from the start to build the technology.


Who else has a track record of creating amazing pieces of software which baffles the most? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

PS. This article is not intended to imply that 10x engineers are a normal or even real thing.

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elmuerte profile

Michiel Hendriks


I shouldn't have written all of those tank programs.


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