Robert C. Pike, Co-designer of the Go programming language

Is simplicity best or simply the easiest?

Yes, would be the answer from Rob Pike, Principal Engineer at Google and co-designer of the Go programming language.
He states his software passion as: "Simplicity is better than complexity because simpler things are easier to understand, easier to build, easier to debug and easier to maintain."
He has tried to implement this passion in the Go programming language which Google released in November 2009.
"Go may have fewer features than most mainstream languages but in expressiveness I argue it is ahead" and
"Simplicity makes Go easy to understand, fast to use and fast to compile," are some of his pitches for Go. Even though his keynote "The Expressiveness of Go" at JAOO is targeted at "Programmers willing to take a step back for a wider view", it will probably be a very good idea for narrowminded programmers to attend too.
Before Rob joined Google he was a member of the Computing Sciences Research Center at Bell Labs, the lab that developed Unix. No doubt Rob Pike picked up his insistence on simplicity from the birthplace of Unix.*
In an interesting and stimulating environment he worked on computer graphics, user interfaces, languages, concurrent programming and distributed systems.
"When I arrived, in 1980, the Computing Science Research Center... had recently launched 7th Edition Unix and the Center, after a long period of essentially zero growth, was just entering a period of rapid expansion. That expansion brought in a lot of new people with new ideas. I was a graphics guy then and I hooked up with Bart Locanthi, another graphics guy, and we brought graphics to Research Unix with the Blit," he reminiscensed in a Q&A at Slashdot
Blit was a programmable bitmap graphics terminal. Soon Rob expanded his areas of interest and together with Ken Thompson and other developers, he wrote the text editor Sam for Blit.
"Other folks brought in new languages, novel hardware, networking; all kinds of stuff. That period in the early 80s generated a lot of ideas that influenced Unix both within the Labs and in the outside community," Rob Pike continues.

Among other things he started the development of the distributed operating system Plan 9 together with others such as Ken Thompson. Plan 9 replaced Unix as the primary platform for research at Bell Labs:
"Ken Thompson and I started Plan 9...  The major things we saw wrong with Unix when we started talking about what would become Plan 9, back around 1985, all stemmed from the appearance of a network. As a stand-alone system, Unix was pretty good. But when you networked Unix machines together, you got a network of stand-alone systems instead of a seamless, integrated networked system."
Rob Pike also developed the text editor Acme for Plan 9
Rob Pike and others developed the operating system Inferno based on the design principles from Plan 9. Rob Pike was also involved in the development of Inferno's programming language Limbo and he wrote the book ”The Unix Programming Environment” with Brian W. Kernighan

* An appropriate quote from one of the key developers of Unix Dennis Ritchie: "Unix is simple. It just takes a genius to understand its simplicity."
You did not know that:
Go programming language: