The owner of the candle shop in the Gnomish Mines town, Izchak, is named after one of the former DevTeam members, Dr. Izchak Miller, who passed away before the release of Nethack 3.2.
This project is also the descendant of an older game called Hack. (and Hack is actually based on another text game called Rogue!) Hack was one of the first "dungeon" type games to use a graphical display instead of text based room descriptions - though it still used ascii characters to portray your environment. Only later on in the project "real" graphics were added (this was an open source game). Also, note that the release year supplied on this page is only the one for the most recent version.