75 years of Innovators: Linus Torvalds

Jan. 8, 2004
At age 21, Linus Torvalds decided to write his own computer operating system.

In the 75 years since Machine Design began publication, here are some of the people who have changed the way we live.

Linus Torvalds
Father of the free Operating System
1969-

Torvalds, then a student at the University of Helsinki, Finland, recognized the need for a capable Unix OS for use on his home PC. The result: Linux, a Unix-like operating system for Intel-based computers.

Besides claiming to be more stable and run faster than Windows, Linux is free. And, because Linux is not copyrighted, Torvalds did not make his first million from it. It's an open program, which means that the source code is available for programmers to download from the Internet to tweak and customize. And while he didn't invent open programming, Linux will forever be known as its first success story.

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