“”I capped the line-of-code count at 100,000 and God said it must be perfect, so it will never be an ugly monstrocity.[ ]
|—Terry A. Davis|
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Long story short, Davis was a former atheist who, after being hospitalized for mental health issues, then claimed to communicate with God and said he had heard him tell him to develop TempleOS. The OS was, according to Davis, built for "God's Third Temple". He was apparently told in these communications to create the OS with 16 colors and mono sound. It also has no network capability, and — get this — a dialect of C called "HolyC", or C†. According to him, he could communicate with God through a TempleOS program called "AfterEgypt", but no one else so far has succeeded at this. So basically, this is an OS developed by a schizophrenic that is stuck in 1990 for video and sound (despite being finished in 2003). Fortunately, TempleOS is open source (it's public domain as well), so as a mildly interesting programming project, it's not all bad, and to be fair programming an entire OS on one's own is an impressive feat; consequently, he ended up developing a large following among the hacker community.
Davis was a rather confrontational individual, and was in the habit of calling people certain racial epithets, notably referring to "CIA niggers", whom Davis alleged to have killed with his car. In fairness to Davis, these epithets were likely the result of his schizophrenia getting fed into by 4chan users, who are no stranger to using racial slurs, which Davis may have adopted. Earlier comments of Davis before being noticed by the site notably indicate a lack of racial slurs.
In early 2018, he was kicked out of his parents' house, and moved in with his sister, before choosing to live in a van and moving across the US. Although fans of Davis offered support and supplies, he rejected any housing offers. During this period, his mental illness worsened, until on August 11th 2018, he uploaded a video, stating he'd removed most of his other videos because he "did not want to litter the internet". At the end he states: "It's good to be king. Wait, maybe. I think maybe I'm just like a little bizarre little person who walks back and forth. Whatever, you know, but...".
His death was met with some sadness in the hacker community — it's all too common for a hacker to have their life's work go largely unnoticed, and possibly ridiculed, so the empathy was unusual.
All in all, Davis' story is a cautionary tale about living with mental illness and the ways certain groups on the internet can choose to feed into and exploit this for entertainment.
- "I was chosen by God because I am the best programmer on the planet and God boosted my IQ with divine intellect."
- "God said 640x480 16 color was a covenant like circumcision."
- "The CIA niggers glow in the dark, you can see em' if you're driving, you just run them over. That's what you do."
- See the Wikipedia article on TempleOS.
- A constructive look at TempleOS
- TempleOS Archive
- Merch collection dedicated to TempleOS
- TempleOS | Down the Rabbit Hole, a documentary made by Fredrik Knudsen.
- TempleOS.org (archived 2016-03-23)
- Man killed by train had tech following, 7 September 2018. Archived from original at The Dalles Chronicle.
- God's Lonely Programmer:Terry Davis, a schizophrenic programmer, has spent 10 years building an operating system to talk to God. by Jesse Hicks (Nov 25 2014, 7:00am) Vice Motherboard.
- TempleOS: an educational tool for programming experiments: James Sanders explores what drives one man to write an operating system for x86_64, and what the programmer's finished product looks like. by James Sanders (January 20, 2014, 11:33 PM PST) TechRepublic.
- Biography of Terry A. Davis — The greatest programmer to ever live. (January 03, 2019, 09:19 PM PST) 256Kilobytes.
- Terry Davis has died: Hacker News thread
- Comment from Terry Davis on a Hacker News thread
- Comment from Terry Davis on /r/Programming
- Comment from Terry Davis on YouTube