Torvalds, Linus Benedict

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Torvalds, Linus Benedict

Linus Benedict Torvalds, 1969–, Finnish-American computer software engineer. A member of Finland's Swedish-speaking minority, he attended the Univ. of Helsinki (M.S., 1996), where he also taught. In the early 1990s he began working on a Unix-like operating system for personal computers built with Intel microprocessors, leading to the release of version 1.0 of the Linux kernel in 1994. Together with other free software developed under the GNU public license, Linux has become the core of a stable, graphical operating system that has been freely installed and improved by millions of computer users looking for an alternative to systems developed by Microsoft, Apple, and other companies. Most commonly, however, it is used on servers, and it also has largely replaced Unix as the operating system most commonly used by supercomputers. From 1997 to 2003 Torvalds worked at Transmeta Corp. in California as a software developer while continuing to supervise the development of the Linux kernel. In 2003 he became a fellow at Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), a Linux-development consortium in Beaverton, Oreg.; OSDL was merged in 2007 into the Linux Foundation (est. 2007), which now sponsors his work. In 2012 he, along with stem-cell researcher Shinya Yamanaka, was awared the Millennium Technology Prize. Torvalds became a U.S. citizen in 2010.

See his autobiography (with D. Diamond, 2001).

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