Linux Creator Linus Torvalds Splits $1.5 Million Tech Prize

The principal force behind the development of the Linux kernel, Linus Torvalds, is going to get a cool $750,000.

Two innovators, including Linus Torvalds, a Finnish American software engineer and the driving force behind the open-source Linux kernel, have won this year€™s Millennium Technology Prize, given out every two years by the Technology Academy of Finland. The other recipient of the prize, Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, was singled out for his contributions to stem-cell development. Torvalds was awarded the honor for his creation of the operating system. This is the first time that the grand prize has been shared by two scientists.

Torvalds was cited for the €œgreat impact€ the Linux operating system has had on the openness of the Web and shared software and networking development. €œI€™m really honored to be the joint recipient of this year€™s Millennium Technology Prize. This recognition is particularly important to me given that it€™s given by the Technology Academy of Finland,€ he said in a press statement. €œI€™d also like to thank 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.€

The Technology Academy of Finland (TAF) is an independent foundation established by the Finnish industry and the Finnish state in partnership. €œThe aims of the prize are to promote technological research and innovation that have a positive impact on the quality of life, alleviate fears towards technological change and encourage discussion between technology specialists and societal decision makers,€ according to the Technology Academy€™s Website.

€œThe Prize Committee decided, for the first time in the Millennium Technology Prize€™s 10-year history, to award the Grand Prize to two innovators. Dr. Shinya Yamanaka€™s work in stem-cell research and Linus Torvalds€™ work in open-source software have transformed their fields and will remain important for generations to come,€ Dr. Ainomaija Haarla, president of TAF, said in prepared remarks. €œLinus Torvalds€™ work has kept the Web open for the pursuit of knowledge and for the benefit of humanity€”not simply for financial interests.€

Yamanaka, a Japanese citizen, discovered a new method of developing stem cells, which has helped scientists worldwide make advances in medical drug testing and biotechnology. His work could one day help grow implant tissues for clinical surgery and combat intractable diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer€™s, a TAF press statement noted.

Previous winners include Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, Professor Shuji Nakamura, who invented colored LEDs and a blue laser, and Professor Robert Langer, for developing innovative biomaterials for use in tissue regeneration. The winner of the 2010 prize was Professor Michael Graetzel, who was honored for his work on low-cost, renewable energy sources with the development of dye-sensitized solar cells.