Allegro was originally created by Shawn Hargreaves. Published sometime between
1994 and 1995, it was just a simple lib for himself. At that time, many people
were switching from Borland C to DJGPP and looking for a decent graphics
library. Allegro was the first reasonably complete one to show up, so it
attracted enough interest to keep growing, and a little contribution here, and
some more encouragement there made it all light up like fire.
Some time after the latest 3.x stable release, though, Shawn was flooded with
Allegro tasks and Real Life (TM) work, and chose the latter to focus his
energies on. While this somehow stalled Allegro's development, it also
attracted a lot of people who wanted Allegro to live longer. Also, by that
time other people had started to work on Windows and Unix ports of Allegro,
which suggested that Allegro had the potential to survive its only decaying
main platform (DOS).
The current situation is that Shawn still keeps watching Allegro's progress
from time to time, but is not involved with development any more. The
community that grew over the years when Shawn was in charge of everything has
stepped forward to continue improving Allegro. Transformed into a meritocratic
community, users keep sending bug reports to the mailing lists, developers
around the world keep sending patches to fix them, and a few carefully chosen
have write access to the CVS repository, from which releases are built every
now and then.
But, who decides when a build is stable enough? Who decides when somebody is
granted write access to the CVS? Who chooses the lesser of two evils patching
some obscure bug? And more importantly, who decides what's Allegro's mascot?
For all these reasons, the community decided to replace Shawn's position with
the Allegro Dictator.
In republican Rome, political power was with the Senate and the Consuls.
However, if it was nescessary that decisions were made very quickly then the
senate could appoint a Dictator. The Dictator was appointed for a specified
duration or charged with a specific task, after which he was expected to
surrender his authority back to the Senate. Nowadays, the Allegro Dictator is
a benevolent figure and rarely has to use his overwhelming fist of iron to put
order into chaos.
The truth is that the Allegro Dictator is usually the person in charge of
doing releases and all that unsexy work inside the community, like pestering
users to test some obscure bugfix or rejecting incomplete patches.
Past Allegro dictators have been: Shawn Hargreaves, George Foot, Peter Wang
and Eric Botcazou. At the moment of writing this, Evert Glebbeek is the
active Allegro Dictator. Should you want to change Allegro in some illogical
way, he's the guy you have to send your bribes too :-)