Linus Torvalds, the father of Linux himself, designed and implemented the first version of Git (almost over a weekend, in pure-hacker style) to give his kernel developers an alternative to BitKeeper. Linus not only did the original design (simple, clean, genius), but helped promote the project with his unique style. (See http://blog.plasticscm.com/2007/05/linus-torvalds-on-git-and-scm.html.)
During his famous speech, he heavily criticized (ok, insulted) CVS, SVN, and Perforce: “Subversion has been the most pointless project ever started”, “If you like using CVS, you should be in some kind of mental institution or somewhere else” and finally “Get rid of Perforce, it is sad, but it is so, so true”.
You can love him or hate him, but he definitely made his point: the Middle Ages were over and now distributed systems were to rule the world, including removing the arcane fear of branching and merging, a key concept behind every DVCS.
During the next years, every major open-source project migrated away from Subversion towards Git (and www.github.com provided a really huge, huge hosting service), making it the strongest and coolest SCM on earth.
Git is based on a DAG structure (Directed Acyclic Graph), in which the main unit of change is the changeset. It implements full merge-tracking, but at the commit level instead of the individual file revision level (as, for instance, ClearCase does). It is extremely fast, with the only caveats being management of large binary files and the requirement to replicate repositories in their entirety.
Git is clearly influenced by its kernel roots, and it’s obviously not the easiest thing on earth to use . But it will definitely be the SCM of the next decade. Check out this awesome book.