When he wasn't working on official projects such as Sussman's automated circuit-analysis program, Stallman devoted his time to pet projects. It was in a hacker's best interest to improve the lab's software infrastructure, and one of Stallman's biggest pet projects during this period was the lab's editor program TECO.

As a single parent for nearly a decade-she and Richard's father, Daniel Stallman, were married in 1948, divorced in 1958, and split custody of their son afterwards-Lippman can attest to her son's aversion to authority. She can also attest to her son's lust for knowledge. It was during the times when the two forces intertwined, Lippman says, that she and her son experienced their biggest battles.

By the spring of 1985, Richard Stallman had settled on the GNU Project's first milestone-a Lisp-based free software version of Emacs. To meet this goal, however, he faced two challenges. First, he had to rebuild Emacs in a way that made it platform independent. Second, he had to rebuild the Emacs Commune in a similar fashion.

Although it meant courting more run-ins at school, Lippman decided to indulge her son's passion. By age 12, Richard was attending science camps during the summer and private school during the school year. When a teacher recommended her son enroll in the Columbia Science Honors Program, a post-Sputnik program designed for gifted middle- and high-school students in New York City, Stallman added to his extracurriculars and was soon commuting uptown to the Columbia University campus on Saturdays.