Creator of cURL Awarded Prestigious Swedish Prize
Written by Sue Gee   
Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Daniel Stenberg, himself a Swede, is the recipient of this year's Polhems Prize, consisting of a gold medal and 250,000 SEK (about $31,000 USD), for his creation of cURL, an open source program that is indispensable in today's interconnected world.

The Polhems Prize, awarded annually for:

"a high-level technological innovation or an ingenious solution to a technical problem.

Named after the scientist and inventor Christopher Polhem (1661-1751), and sometimes referred to as father of Swedish engineering, the prize was established in 1876, almost 20 years prior to the Nobel Prize and the first prize was awarded in 1878. It is Sweden’s oldest and most prestigious award for technological innovation and judging by the names of the long list of laureates it is usually, but not exclusively, awarding to Swedish nationals.

On his blog,, it says:

I'm Daniel Stenberg, lead developer of curl and employed by Mozilla. I'm tall, Swedish and grumpy.




In his post announcing winning this prize, which will be presented to him by Carl Gustav XVI, the king of Sweden, he confesses to being shocked at receiving the news with the reaction:

Me? A prize? How did they even find me or figure out what I’ve done?

He goes on to explain more about why in fact he has earned it and his appreciation of the fact that his open source project has been recognized:

I get this award for having worked on curl for a very long time, and by doing this having provided an Internet infrastructure of significant value to the world. I’ve never sold it nor earned much of commercial income from this hobby of mine, but my code now helps to power an almost unimaginable amount of devices, machines and other connected things in the world.

I’m not used to getting noticed or getting awards. I’m used to sitting by myself working on bugs, merging patches and responding to user emails. I don’t expect outsiders to notice what I do much and I always have a hard time to explain to friends and “mortals” what it is I actually do.

I accept this prize, not as a single inventor or brilliant mind of anything, but like the captain of a boat with a large and varying crew without whom I would never have reached this far. I’m excited that the nominee board found me and our merry project and that they were open-minded enough to see and realize the value and position of an open source project that is used literally everywhere. I feel deeply honored.

I’m fascinated the award nominee group found me and I think it is super cool that an open source project gets this attention and acknowledgement.




The open source project in question is a command line tool and library for transferring data with URL, whose name, cURL, originally stood for "Client URL". Free and open source and first released in 1998, curl is currently at release 7.56.0. According to its site, which shares Stenberg's domain name:

curl is used in command lines or scripts to transfer data. It is also used in cars, television sets, routers, printers, audio equipment, mobile phones, tablets, settop boxes, media players and is the internet transfer backbone for thousands of software applications affecting billions of humans daily.

curl is on GitHub where anyone can join in the burden of keeping it going. In his blog post Stenberg writes:

I would like the award to make one or two more people find and take a closer look at the curl project. To dive in and contribute, in one way or another. We always need more eyes and hands! 


More Information

Polhems Prize to Daniel Stenberg

About the Polhems Prize

Polhelspriset 2017 on

curl site

curl on GitHub 


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