I just came across an old article at Norwegian IT site Digi from 2004 called the real vision behind Opera Software (translation), which talks about Opera's co-founder and CEO, Jon S. von Tetzchner. What got him started? What is his driving force? Where does he want to take Opera? …
He obviously wants to create a browser which is available on as many platforms as possible. He wants as many people as possible to get access to the internet. The browser is not a goal in itself, but a tool to achieve that goal.
His vision, he says, is to develop technology which enables people, all people, to use technology to realize more of themselves as humans independently of their qualifications, independently of ethnic origins, cultural background, religion, gender, age or handicap of different kinds, whether physically or mentally handicapped.
Those are some very big words. Anyone can say that. But perhaps Jon has a reason to?
His father, Stephen von Tetzchner, is a professor of psychology at the University of Oslo, and his speciality is his work with mentally handicapped children. Digi writes that Stephen von Tetzchner has been a pioneer both domestically and internationally in using computer technology and software to help mentally handicapped children live fuller lives.
As his father's son, Digi continues, Jon's dream, his driving force, is not to become rich and famous, but to create technologies which helps people realize themselves regardless of their starting point in life.
That's pretty heavy stuff, but it makes you realize that there's more to Opera than good ideas and cool technology. You don't have to be semi-non-profit to do good things. Indeed, Opera has been actively involved in promoting open Web standards for a very long time. I won't even start guessing how much money Opera has put into open standards, but it probably isn't a small sum.
And let's not forget that Jon predicted that full mobile browsers would be the way to go before just about anyone else. He knew before the market did that WAP was a dead end.
It just so happens that the full Web browser is one of the keys to closing the "digital divide" and bring technology to even more people. No one is better positioned than Opera to do exactly that. And it all started with a vision.