By fall, Stallman was back within the mainstream population of New York City high-school students.
It wasn’t easy sitting through classes that seemed remedial in comparison with his Saturday studies at Columbia, but Lippman recalls proudly her son’s ability to toe the line.
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.
Thirty years after the fact, Lippman punctuates the memory with a laugh. “To tell you the truth, I don’t think I ever figured out how to solve that puzzle,” she says. “All I remember is being amazed he knew the answer.”