Named by Time magazine as the ‘one of the most influential people in the world’, Linus Torvalds is the creative genius behind the Linux kernel operating system. He wrote it as a part of his Master’s thesis titled, ‘Linux: A Portable Operating System' at the young age of 21. Listed in The Britannica Guide's 'The 100 Most Influential Inventors of All Time', he is also listed 17th on the Time magazines poll of ‘Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century'. He is one of the world’s most renowned software programmers, who revolutionised the computer industry. He even has an asteroid and an asteroid moon named after him. He is the owner of the Linux trademark and is one of the highest authorities who decide the incorporation of new codes. He has a total of 35 applied and granted patents internationally. He served as one of the chief architects of the Linux kernel operating system and currently works as the main coordinator of the project. He has authored a memoir titled, ‘Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary'.
Childhood & Early Life
Linus Benedict Torvalds was born in Helsinki, Finland. His parents are Anna and Nils Torvalds, both of whom are journalists. He is the grandson of the Finnish-Swedish journalist and poet, Ole Torvalds.
Between 1988 and 1996, he studied at the University of Helsinki, from where he obtained a master’s degree in computer science. He belonged to the NODES research group.
During his period of study, he became a part of the Finnish Army and attended an eleven month training programme in order to meet the compulsory military service criteria of Finland. This interrupted his studies.
While in the army, he reached the position of a second lieutenant. In 1990, he went back to university to continue his studies. It was during this time that he got acquainted with the operating system, ‘Unix’.
He wrote his Master’s thesis on ‘Linux: A Portable Operating System'. He became fascinated and deeply interested in computer science after he worked on the 8-bit home computer, VIC-20.
He later bought the personal computer, Sinclair QL and modified the computer, especially the operating system. He programmed assembly language, text editor and a few games.
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In 1991, he purchased the Intel 80386-based IBM PC and obtained a MINIX operating system. With this, he began to work and research on the Linux operating system.
In 1996, he went on a visit to the technology firm, ‘Transmeta’, where he began to work from the following year. He later worked for the Open Source Development Labs.
From 1997 to 1999, he worked on the '86open' project, which is a binary file format for the ‘Unix’ and Unix-like operating systems. They were to be used on a common x86 PC.
In 1999, he was offered stock options for his creation by the companies, Red Hat and VA Linux. That very year, the stock prices increased to about $20 million after the companies went public.
In June 2004, along with his family, he relocated to Beaverton, Oregon, where Open Source Development Labs was headquartered. The following year, he developed the software, ‘Git’.
By 2006, about two per cent of the Linux kernel was written by him, which was a significant contribution.
In 2012, he stated that his contribution to the Linux kernel mostly involved merging codes that were already written by others and did not involve much programming.
He is the founder and the creator of the new operating system ‘Linux’, which was released in 1991. This Linux kernel is one of the most significant free and open source software.
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Awards & Achievements
In 1998, he was a recipient of the EFF Pioneer Award.
In 1999, he was given the title of 'one of the top 100 innovators, under the age of 35, in the world' by MIT Technology Review TR100.
In 2000, he was the recipient of the Lovelace Medal, which was conferred by the British Computer Society.
In 2001, along with Richard Stallman and Ken Sakamura, he shared the Takeda Award for Social/Economic Well-Being.
In 2005, he was given the Vollum Award from Reed College.
In 2008, he became an inductee into the Hall of Fellows of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.
In 2010, he was awarded the C&C Prize by the NEC Corporation.
In 2012, he was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame.
In 2012, he was one of the recipients of the Millennium Technology Prize.
Personal Life & Legacy
He is married to Tove Monni, a karate champion. The couple has three daughters.
He calls himself an atheist. He is completely irreligious and believes that religion should be a personal choice and not a political issue.
In 2010, he became a citizen of the United States of America.