Little is known about Aaron Swartz and this name seems to have made a bigger impact after his death, but the truth is that his contributions have had a huge role on how we view the Internet today.
Aaron Swartz had all the hallmarks of a child prodigy and he made one of his first contributions at the age of 14 when he co-developed the specifications for RSS 1.0.
After graduating from Stanford University, he founded a company called Infogami, which later merged with Reddit. He remained on the board of directors for a few years, but he became unhappy with the direction of the company, which forced him to leave.
He was also responsible for building the web.py framework and the architecture for the Open Library, an initiative that aims to create “one web page for every book ever published.”
Aaron Swartz was also a vehement Internet activist and he was one of the cofounders of Demand Progress, an organization which specialized in petitions and which was a powerful enemy of the SOPA act.
Besides his accomplishments as a programmer and activist, he became well known after he was accused of illegally downloading articles from JSTOR (Journal Storage), with the intent of distributing them later through a P2P network.
Even if JSTOR dropped the charges against Aaron Swartz, the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts has chosen to pursue the case further, bringing multiple charges against him.
If he had been found guilty, Aaron Swartz would have faced 50 years in jail and a fine of 4 million dollars.
The talented programmer was found dead on January 11, 2013, in this residence in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York. He was only 26 years old.
A representative from New York's Medical Examiner has deemed his death a suicide, but it’s not clear what exactly drove him to take such a drastic measure.