Death in the Family

Co-founder of Opera Software, Geir Ivarsøy, died of cancer last Thursday.

The first time I met Geir Ivarsøy was in 1998 installing Opera 3.5, when Opera got CSS support. What I didn’t know then was that this very first good CSS implementation had been Geir’s work in few months, but it made CSS geeks worldwide pay attention to the Opera browser. A couple years later many of us ended up as Opera employees.

When I started in Opera I was charmed by that people worked regular hours, the atmosphere was as far removed from the life of a microserf as could be. Geir, our lead developer, went to the office in the morning and home to his family in the afternoon. But what happened in between was pure gold. Dozens of newly employed Opera programmers lined up at his door whenever they had a problem they couldn’t fix. Geir would pinpoint the problem and the solution within minutes.

While this complete command of the Opera source code was impressive, it wouldn’t fit the organisation we were to become. It must have been around 2002 when he told me with some satisfaction that he didn’t personally know the code anymore. And the rookie programmers were rookies no more. It is their work you see in Opera today.

When we needed to jump ship, both continuing on what was to become Opera 6 and developing the next generation engine, Geir and Karl Anders were the architects of Presto, based on experience from the past as well as the requirements from the future. Presto is a large collaboratory effort but it was also probably the most sensitive engineering project we have ever undertaken. We had dozens of projects hanging in the balance, we could not afford to fail and we didn’t.

As Opera Software has grown from a handful people to a quarter thousand I still recognize most of the same company culture as when I started. The Asterix-like attitude, never to be fazed by incredible odds (part of what makes it fun to work for this company), the drive to make something that is actually good, and never cease to improve what’s there.

Some of this Opera culture can be pinned on individuals such as Jon’s endearing conviction that nothing we ever do is second-rate. Less obvious but just as present is Geir’s influence, both on those who met him, and those who did not. I would not call him shy, but he was intensely attention adverse, you would never see him first in line when Opera won prizes. He didn’t brag even though he had better reasons than most everyone. He focused on doing the task right and doing it well, and the proof was in the code. To this day you won’t hear an Opera programmer brag, even when they have good reasons to, and they often do.

Geir’s understated sense of humour complemented those of us who enjoy being rather overt in our merry glibness, like elsewhere Geir was subtle but clear. He was immensely nice, likeable, unassuming, but not easily impressed. As the saying goes the good Geirs die young, but in this case his renown will last for a long time.

Join the Conversation

  1. hello ,may he rest in peace and I thank him for the blessings he has given to me since I am in Opera .Thanks for the information.May God rest his soul and welcome him into his kingdom.Eve

  2. otk_senior writes:may he rest in peacegreat man indeed. i think opera is by far the most impressive browser. his work was not in vain.thanks opera team for bringing innovation to the industry. 🙂

  3. brain writes:Condoglianze.Spero che la sua vita e i suoi valori possano restare di esempio per tutti noi.

  4. janeen writes:I never knew who to thank for the best browser, bar none. Hope his legacy lives on in the Opera company and community.

  5. Anonymous writes:rest in peace, Geir. My condolences for the family.The Opera browser, they invented, is by far more than just another software to browse the web, instead it was the first software to really explore the net, comfortable, userfriendly and secure.Michael

  6. Stan writes:I live on the other side of the world in Australia, yet this man has touched my life in a very positive way by bringing me something that is of great benefit to me and to all who choose Opera. Why we lose the good people of this world so early in their lives is a mystery, but this mans contribution to the improvement of the lives of so many will live on. In returning to the earth from which all life comes Geir will no doubt live again and contribute even more to our humble existence. May his memory live on within the Opera community and beyond. My sincere sympathy to his family and friends on the loss of an obviously loved man.

  7. Mr.Zix writes:May he rest in peace! I am from Serbia and we say: “Neka mu je laka zemlja, i neka pociva sa andjelima! Slava MU!

  8. Anne writes:As I read this message it shocked me, although I do not know Geir personally, but I know about cancer…May this message mean support for his family, friends and colleagues, people who create something wonderful like Geir did with OPERA always ‘go first’ it seems…I feel with you all, Anne, (The Netherlands)

  9. Anonymous writes:Thanks to Opera the web is a good experience to me, without it wouldn’t be the same. Thank you Geir !

  10. Anonymous writes:Great thanks to all in Opera Group I’m an oncology doctor and now I download with Opera 9.0 a book for helping to cancer illed people its great! and Allah will always blessed Geir

  11. Paul Rozario, AU writes:I’m a loyal user of Opera. I’ve tried the others but strongly fee that Opera is the best for my needs and purposes. I shall not leave this family. To the founder and developer of Opera, Geir Ivarsøy, I say a heartful and somewhat belated thanks.Condolences to your family and friends. You have your memories of this man, I can only but marvel at the stature of the man who made Opera a reality.May your memory live forever.PS – Browsing with Opera 9.0 – Go Geir!!!!

  12. YoungLink writes:I’m sorry to hear about the news. To tell the truth, I have never used Opera until some day ago, somebody told me that this is the best browser. But I really have no idea that 9.0 has some relation to Geir’s death. May he rest in peace.I have to say that this is the best browser ever though. I strongly recommend this to anyone.Too bad Geir won’t be able to see the best browser existing, eh? Sorry for that.

  13. MVK_Sri_Lankan writes::(The world has lost another VIP,in it’s list.It still hurts eventhough we are miles apart.He may be gone but ,what he started will remain untill this world exists.v.shanSri Lankan

  14. Count of Monte Softo writes:A good and talented person, he was the Abbe Faria to all of usand his treasure can be used and enjoyed by all.

  15. His Legacy is to Keep Opera as the Best Browser and This type of Independent Software.Sam in Tel-Aviv Jaffa

  16. Anonymous writes:Truly a Gentleman with capital “G” as died.Thank you for your presence between us.I just wish we (mortals) could have more people like you, the world needs it.Rest in peace, Geir.My condolences to the family.

  17. KpaucT writes:May he rest in peace. My condolence for the family and all of his friends and relatives.

  18. bryant writes:Thank you very much for co-writing this wonderful software. I firmly believe this is the best browser in the world, as it runs perfectly in my PC(Linux & Windows) and in my mobile.

  19. only until now i realize who did this, thanks to him for the best browser on earth and may he rest in peace. Here in Mexico (a third worl country), i recommend it very much because it just repels all that adware and adds that are seen here with all my latino fellows that use IE. kudos to Opera and all the people who make this happen.

  20. only knew of it todaybon voyage to your homecoming to our creatorthanks for opera, all the way from version 3condolence to the family


    My deepest condolences. I am paying my respects from India. As said in the Bhagavad Geeta, ” Nainam chhindanti shastraani, nainam dahati paavakah,Na cha enam kledayanti aapah, na shoshayati maarutah ” ; his soul will rest in peace.

  22. Adnan writes:

    Yattığı yerde toprağı bol olsun Geir Ivarsøy amcanın. Böylesi genç yaşta (yaklaşık Baruch Spinoza ile aynı yaşta) ölmesi gerçekten çok üzücü.:(

  23. Anonymous writes:Большое спасибо вам за создание самого лучшего браузера в мире.Мои соболезнования его семье и родственникам.

  24. Scott writes:Thank you Geir Ivarsøy for Opera. I just found out today when I saw “in memorium” in the Opera About page. I didn’t really pay that much attention until I started searching who were/was the developer(s) of Opera browser. I’ve been using this browser since Windows 95 (isn’t that a long time? LOL!). I want to say I’m sorry to hear that he died of cancer at his age. I’m sure he was happy of Opera as I am with the new version 10. I guess you all don’t brag about it. I always tell me friends about it. One of the best browsers :D. I look forward for more improvements and if we can be more like Geir Ivarsøy in our work, relationships, and life this world will be a better place :-D.

  25. whitelion writes:Shalom, bahuk Adonai.Death act like a thief,it steals when you dont expect it,he should have been living to enjoy fruits of his labour,if he was still alive?he would have in the ranks of Gate,well,however,death is always a necessary end,we all are owing a great deal of death and is unavoidably payable.WHITELION in North-Pole Longyearby Scandinavia.

  26. Joachim Saubers writes:Being of the same age of Geir I feel a lot …Having used Opera for so long and built all my websites with it using “view source/ apply changes” I will dedicate my next software to him for having influenced so many lives.

  27. Geir Ivarsøy changed the Web as we know now. At least he saved part of himself in the World.

  28. Gryaznov Alexey writes:I am from Russia.Упокой Господь душу этого замечательного человека.Большое спасибо ему, за такой замечательный браузер, которым я давно пользуюсь и который мне очень нравится!

  29. Originally posted by anonymous:Gryaznov Alexey writes:I am from Russia.Упокой Господь душу этого замечательного человека.Большое спасибо ему, за такой замечательный браузер, которым я давно пользуюсь и который мне очень нравится!

  30. William — London writes:A great piece of work — and he sounds a really nice guy too.May he rest in peace

  31. SlavikGood writes:Видел бы ты во что превратилось твоё детище… мне больно смотреть на Opera 15, Opera 16… Opera 12.16 останется лучшей. с рождением Opera 15 и более новыми версиями, Opera как индивидуальность, как отдельный не похожий ни на кого браузер, умерла для меня. Ты там наверху всё видишь, наставь своих последователей на путь истинный…You should have seen what has become of your child … it hurts me to look at Opera 15, Opera 16 … Opera 12.16 will remain the best. with the birth of Opera 15 or newer, Opera as an individual, not as a separate like anyone browser died for me. You’re up there all you see, instruct their followers to the right path …


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