CREATOR: Ryan Dahl (shown above) has a master's degree in math from the University of Rochester. His open-source projects beyond Node are the Ebb web server and the "EY" load balancer module for Nginx. He has worked as a freelance programmer and lived in Germany.
Linus Torvalds is the "benevolent dictator for life" of Linux -- meaning he has the final say in disputes over that open-source language. Ryan holds the title for Node.js.
The bigger picture: the Internet has come a long way from static HTML pages and even HTML pages populated by information stored in databases. As Metamarkets CTO Mike Driscoll has explained, pages are actually "event-driven applications through which information moves." Other languages can do event-driven applications but Node.js was designed for them.
WHEN/WHERE: February 2009 / Germany. Version 0.4.10 on July 20.
TIMELINE: Ryan floated the idea for what would become Node in a January 5, 2009 post to his blog. He announced the project on February 9, 2009 and started the Node repository on GitHub on February 15, 2009. The break-out moment came when Ryan presented Node at JSConf 2009 that November in Berlin.
San Francisco-based Joyent, which provides cloud computing services, brought Ryan on board not long after the JSConf 2009 and the Node.js project in-house in November 2010 to give it "the investment and support Ryan felt it needed" according to this Joyent blog post.
The only practical difference for developers: the contributor agreement is directed to Joyent instead of Ryan. The project remains open source.
More early Node.js history here.
SITES USING NODE: Etsy, Yammer, Uber, LearnBoost, Voxer, WordSquared (f.k.a. Scrabbly), Storify. See wiki for complete list of sites and projects.
[ Note: Startup darling Turntable.fm seems like an ideal business for Node.js, but CEO Billy Chasen told LAUNCH that they did not consider Node.js because he and his team are Python programmers. ]
NEXT NODE.JS EVENT: Node Knockout 2011 is a coding contest that takes place August 27-29 in San Francisco although teams from anywhere in the world can compete. The 2010 event attracted 215 teams. Overall winner was a collabortative game called Swarmation.
GROWTH: No official stats, but "growing" is the consensus. Node.js on GitHub has 8.2K watchers, the Node.js Google Group has 5,282 members, and the npm (Node package manger) registry has 3,059 packages.
HOW NODE.JS FITS WITH JOYENT: Joyent CEO David Young says cloud services and Node.js "really go hand in hand. They are two different businesses trying to accomplish the same thing: highly efficient performance cloud solutions."
James Duncan, chief architect at Joyent and head of the Node platform team says, "Node really makes the kind of applications we focus on and we think are going to push forward into the cloud not only possible but comparatively easy to write."
JOYENT'S GOAL WITH NODE.JS: "Maximum adoption of the Node platform," says David. He adds that Joyent is "investing heavily" in Node and is "very open to making sure the ecosystem and community are as broad and well run as possible."
JOYENT'S BUSINESS MODEL AROUND NODE.JS: The No.de service is for deploying and hosting Node.js applications.
NODE EMPLOYEES AT JOYENT: 10.
2. "Why Everyone Is Talking about Node" (Mashable, March 10, 2011)
3. "How do I get started with Node.js" (Stack Overflow, March 1, 2010)
CONTACTS & LINKS
Email: ry at tinyclouds dot org
Node on GitHub: https://github.com/joyent/node