Linux creator Torvalds shares Millennium Technology Prize
The man behind the Linux kernel and Git revision control system has been awarded a top honour by the Technology Academy in Finland. Typically he gets a big homecoming.
The man behind the Linux Kernel, Linus Torvalds collected the
tech equivalent of the Nobel Prize yesterday,
scooping €600,000 and the
Millennium Technology Prize 2012 for his work towards the
open source operating system.
The prize which is awarded every two years, was for the first
time in its history given to two recipients – the other being
Japanese stem call scientist Shinya Yamanaka. Both were made
laureates for the award back in April, so it comes as no surprise
to see them both recognised with the illustrious honour. Fittingly
for Torvalds, the glitzy ceremony took place in the town where he
was born, Helsinki in Finland, making a return home from Oregon in
the US for the accolade.
“The International Selection
Committee has to judge whether an innovation has had a favourable
impact on people’s lives and assess its potential for further
development to benefit humanity in the future. The innovations of
both this year’s winners embody that principle,” Dr Ainomaija
Haarla, President of Technology Academy Finland said in a
Torvalds, specifically was
honoured by the Technology Academy Finland “in
recognition of his creation of a new open source operating system
for computers leading to the widely used Linux kernel.”
Speaking at the ceremony,
Torvalds thanked “all the people I’ve worked with, who have helped
make the project not only such a technical success, but have made
it so fun and interesting.”
It’s remarkable to chart the progress of the Linux
operating system – started in 1991 by Torvalds whilst in university
as “just a hobby” that “won’t be big and professional”
(or so he wrote on Usenet about the project), Linux now sets the
computing benchmark for how large collaborative open source
projects should be carried out. The initial kernel code base
consisted of 10,000 lines of code – it now stands at 15
million, with an estimated combined 73,000
man-years spent working on Linux. A phenomenal amount,
that cements Torvalds legacy as Linux field
Previous winners of the Millennium Technology Prize include blue
and white LED inventor Shuji Nakamura in 2006 and the World Wide
Web and creator, Tim Berners-Lee in 2004.
Speaking to the BBC, Torvalds said he had no intention of
stepping away from the Linux Foundation, despite revealing in the
past lucrative job offers (from Steve Jobs no less).
Hey, I’ve had job offers, but I’ve really tried to make it very
clear to everybody that what I appreciate most is my neutral
status, and it really turns out that I think all the companies
involved with Linux really do prefer things that way too.
I seriously believe that even though the Linux kernel has become
a big thing for a number of large companies, people really do
appreciate how nice it is that I don’t work for any of them.
Typical Torvalds straight-talk, but it’s a fantastic personal
achievement for him in a long list of accolades. Especially
considering how phenomenally successful a test project has become –
it’s revolutionised the tech world and helped set the agenda for
open source as part of software. He hasn’t become jaded either,
still actively coding from his Oregon home. Now we’re just awaiting
the proper recognition for Git. Congratulations Linus!