Who first created and drew the Golang gopher?

Tremaine Eto
4 min readJul 15, 2022

If you’ve used Golang or have at least heard of it, then you’ve very likely seen this little creature around:

This mascot is virtually synonymous with the actual programming language, and it’s probably the best animal mascot for something in software engineering since the Linux penguin, Tux:

The question does arise, though, where in the world did this gopher come from? Who first created it?

What if I told you that the gopher was first made for nothing to do with a statically typed, compiled programming language?

In fact, the gopher was created by artist Renee French, who actually has a Wikipedia article!

French, with her pen name Rainy Dohaney, has many published works to her name, among them H Day, The Soap Lady, The Ticking, Edison Steelhead’s Lost Portfolio: Exploratory Studies of Girls and Rabbits, and Marbles in My Underpants.

Around the turn of the 21st century, French was commissioned to design a t-shirt of all things for the WFMU radio station in New Jersey. The design she came up with has a familiar face in it:

Illustration by Renee French for WFMU.

The intersection of this random gopher drawing and computing began when Bob Flandrena of Bell Labs used the gopher as his avatar in the Bell Labs mail system.

Rob Pike, a key contributor to the Go programming language, an employee of Bell Labs on the Unix team at the time, and crucially, Renee French’s husband, then got French to design a logo for the Go project that he, Andrew Gerrand, and others were working on; this is what she came up with:

Image by Renee French and courtesy Go.

The above logo was featured on the first Go t-shirt ever made (t-shirts are a big part of this origin story) as well as the Google Code site for Go.

Tremaine Eto

Senior Software Engineer @ Iterable | Previously worked at DIRECTV, AT&T, and Tinder | UCLA Computer Science alumni | Follow me for software engineering tips!