Linus Torvalds Timeline

  • Born

    Linus Torvalds was born in Helsinki, Finland. He was the son of two journalists who were very politcally active and leaned communist. They participated in many protests and campus activism around this time. Pictured: An anti-Vietnam War protest in Helsinki in 1969.
  • Grandfather buys a computer

    Grandfather buys a computer
    In the mid 1970s, his grandfather, a statistics professor, buys Linus a computer. The computer was able to be programmed in Basic and Assembly, starting Linus's early interest in computing. The computer was a Commodore Vic 20, pictured.
  • Joined the Finnish Army

    Took a break from university and joined the Finnish Army for the mandatory service. During this time, he became interested in the UNIX operating system and ways to improve it. He was much more familiar with UNIX than the Microsoft or Apple operating systems,
  • Buys a newer computer

    Buys a newer computer
    Linus buys a new computer with an Intel 386 chip, but was dissatisfied with the limited power that using MSDOS had. He began to search for a way to use UNIX, but the UNIX license was too expensive. He decides that he will make his own form of UNIX, with some elements of MINIX and MSDOS.
  • Begins to develop Linux

    In summer of 1991, he begins to gauge interest in a MINIX-like system that would be the basis of Linux. He takes suggestions on what should be part of the system, and begins to program.
  • First version of Linux

    In Fall 1991, Linus releases the first prototypes of some UseNet groups. Immediately, programmers from around the world become interested because Linux was free and open source. Instead of asking for money, Linus asks for postcards.
  • First Official Version

    Shortly after, he releases the first official version, 0.02. This one becomes more popular, leading him to receive more suggestions and continue working on Linux.
  • Releases Linux 1.0

    After a few years of development with the help of thousands of programmers from all around the world, he releases version 1.0. This version was released free according to the GPL license, like the iterations before and after.
  • Graduated From University of Helsinki

    Graduated From University of Helsinki
    Graduated from university with a master's in computer science. His master's thesis was the Linux system. Would also go on to teach some classes there, as well as continue to improve the Linux kernel (as well as meeting his wife).
  • Linux 2.0 Released

    Linux 2.0 Released
    This version of Linux contained numerous improvements. In addition, this was around the time his first daughter was born.
  • Joins Transmeta Corp

    Joins Transmeta Corp
    He departs for the United States to work with Transmeta in California. During this time, he would continue to develop Linux in his free time.
  • Increasing Popularity

    Linux passes 7 million computers, and begins to be seen as a serious alternative to Microsoft and Apple. Both companies acknowledge Linux as a powerful alternative.
  • IBM Funds Linux

    IBM had been losing ground to Microsoft, so they decided to fund Linux with over a billion dollars to improve the code. They saw that although it was more basic than Windows at the time, it could eventually be built to be better at large server hosting than Windows could ever be.
  • Joins the Open Source Development Labs

    Joins the Open Source Development Labs
    He resigns from Transmeta and joins the Open Source Development Labs as a major member. Funded by companies like IBM, he would begin to work on Linux more intensely. In addition, he would move to Portland where he resides today.
  • Creates Git

    Creates Git
    Shortly after moving to the OSDL, he founds Git. This program allows multiple programmers to easily work together on a piece of code. This forms the basis for GitHub, a popular tool for sharing programs.
  • The Linux Foundation Formed

    The Linux Foundation Formed
    The OSDL combines with The Free Standards Group to create the The Linux Foundation, with Linus at the head.
  • Modern day

    Today, Linus retains his role at the head and final say of the Linux kernel. His contributions on comprise 2% of the total size, but this is understandable since the total size of Linux is past 80 megabytes. He continues to support open source software. For a more complete look at his modern activity: