Linus Torvalds: Linux Creator, Laureate for 2012 Millennium Technology Prize (open to readers)

Erik Finkenbiner reports on Linus Torvalds’ nomination for the 2012 Millennium Technology Prize and staffers and readers comment. Torvalds created Linux, the most dominant operating system in the world.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Linux creator and Linux Foundation fellow Linus Torvalds is a step away from winning the Millennium Technology Prize and is its Laureate now, according to the Technology Academy of Finland and the Linux Foundation reps in a recent statement. The prize, awarded by the Technology Academy of Finland every two years, is one of the world’s most prestigious prizes in science and tech.

The criteria for winning is the invention of a technology that has “improved the quality” of human life or helped along the field of sustainable development.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

This is about as close as it comes to getting the equivalent of a Nobel in the world of science and technology. Torvalds is now a step away from the grand prize of more than 1 million Euros. The first winner of the Millenium Technology Prize was Tim Berners-Lee, innovator of the World Wide Web and current director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Berners-Lee received that honor in 2004.

Torvalds is best known for the creation of Linux kernel, the basis for what would become the free and open source Linux operating system loved by geeks worldwide, me included.  Programmers also will recognize another one of Torvalds’ contributions to open source software. That’s Git, which allows developers to perform version control and source code management.

Technology Academy Finland, which created and awards the prize, praised Torvalds for his continued progress on Linux and his fostering of a community which has allowed Linux to “become the basis of Android smartphones, tablets, digital television recorders and supercomputers the world over.”

Torvalds created Linux in 1991, an open source operating system that today is the most popular OS in the world. It dominates supercomputing and cloud computing, runs on a majority of financial trade systems, powers Android and is the OS behind Amazon, Twitter, Google, Facebook and other major worldwide networks.

According to Jim Zemlin, exec director at the Linux Foundation:

The Millennium Technology Prize is like the Nobel Peace Prize of technology, … Linus Torvalds embodies the innovation and collaborative spirit that this award stands for, and we congratulate him on this tremendous honor.

The academy will announce the 2012 Millennium Technology Prize winner on Wednesday June 13th at an awards ceremony in Helsinki.

I’m a supporter of open source software and have been running Linux on my primary home PC for the past six years.  It is also pretty obvious that I love Android, which uses the Linux kernel. I even do a podcast on Android. And I’m not the only supporter.

David Street, COO here at, former OS exec at Compaq and COO of Larry Ellison’s 2000-era thin client company, NIC, said, “I’ve been Windows-free for almost four years now. The only software I’ve paid for is the (junk) that comes preloaded on a new computer.”  That wouldn’t have been possible with Linux, of course.

Our senior contributor, Ant Pruitt, is an IT pro who says that, thanks to Linux, “I built a pretty nice rig for myself.  I am running Linux on it.  Why? Because it run extremely well on all subpar hardware. I have no desire to run a different OS. “
+Richard Hay, a Silicon Valley engineer, issues a rhetorical question: “Can you think of a coder who has had a more dramatic impact on computer science and cloud computing than Linus?”
+Dave Lockwood, of Ormond Beach, Florida, adds, “he created Linux and Linux has changed the world. QED he deserves the prize.”
Even if Linus Torvalds does not come out on top this week — he is going up against a well-known stem cell pioneer — he’s still a hero in our book. Let us know what you think and we’ll add it to the story.