Python was conceived in the late 1980s by Guido van Rossum at Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in the Netherlands as a successor to the ABC programming language, which was inspired by SETL, capable of exception handling and interfacing with the Amoeba operating system. Its implementation began in December 1989. Van Rossum shouldered sole responsibility for the project, as the lead developer, until 12 July 2018, when he announced his "permanent vacation" from his responsibilities as Python's "benevolent dictator for life", a title the Python community bestowed upon him to reflect his long-term commitment as the project's chief decision-maker.

Python 2.0 was released on 16 October 2000, with many major new features, including a cycle-detecting garbage collector (in addition to reference counting) for memory management and support for Unicode.

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