In order to improve technology, it is important to consider past breakthroughs and explore the work of past contributors to our current capabilities. In our blog, we aim to spend some time exploring the contribution of individuals to the tech industries and today we focus on Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner.
Born on the 29th of August 1967 in Reykjavík, Iceland, Tetzchner was a bright child who went on to study computer science at university, gaining a master’s degree from Norway’s University of Oslo. In 1991, he began working for Norwegian Telecom (now Telenor), creating new browsing software alongside colleague Geir Ivarsøy. The browser they created, MultiTorg Opera, was rejected by Norwegian Telecom who abandoned its development. Undaunted, Tetzchner and Ivarsøy obtained the rights to the software and founded a company called Opera Software in 1995, enabling them to continue with development and to launch their product.
The Opera browser was released to the public with version 2.0 in 1996, although it only ran on Microsoft Windows. Although reasonably successful, its creators noticed an emerging market they wanted to start working on – mobile browsing. Development of a multi-platform version – 4.0 – began in 1998 and the finished product was released in the year 2000. By 2005, Opera was increasingly popular – more so than even Tetzchner believed. He stated in a meeting with colleagues that if Opera 8 could reach a million downloads within its initial four days, he would swim the Atlantic between Norway and the US. Needless to say, his swim was not a success – though the fact he had to attempt it demonstrated Opera’s prominence. Since, Opera has continued to evolve and is now used by a number of top hardware and software developers. Tetzchner stepped down from his long term role as CEO of Opera in January 2010, becoming a strategic advisor to the company before leaving in 2011.
Tetzchner went on to found Vivaldi.net in 2013. The service includes blogs and forums as well as a free email service and describes itself as a ‘place for our friends’. Whether Vivalidi.net can go on to emulate the success of Opera remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure – Tetzchner has earned his place in software history.