Linus Torvalds shares top tech prize with stem cell scientist Shinya Yamanaka
Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux open source operating system, has been announced as a joint winner of the €1.2 million Millennium Prize, along with stem cell scientist Shinya Yamanaka.
Previous winners of the top tech prize have included Sir Tim Berners Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, and Shuji Nakamura, who was first to create coloured LEDs and the blue laser. This is the first time the prize, awarded every two years by the Finnish Government, has been shared by two winners, with each getting €600,000.
Open source honour
The Millennium Prize is a leading technology award, which focuses particularly on inventions which have had a beneficial effect on society. Torvalds‘ contribution to technology is immense, with his open source Linux operating system running on millions of computers and smartphones, as well as supercomputers and embedded processors in humble devices such as video recorders. At last 73,000 man-hours have been invested in this collaborative project.
“I’m really honored to be the joint recipient of this year’s Millennium Technology Prize,” said Torvalds, a Finnish-American citizen. “This recognition is particularly important to me given that it’s given by the Technology Academy of Finland. Thank you to the International Selection Committee and the TAF Board.”
“I’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.”
Dr Yamanaka’s work has enabled the development of “pluripotent” stem cells, which have the potential to treat all sorts of diseases including cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
“The International Selection Committee has to judge whether an innovation has had a favourable impact on people’s lives and assess its potential for further development to benefit humanity in the future,” said Dr Ainomaija Haarla, president of Finland’s Technology Academy. “The innovations of both this year’s winners embody that principle.”
“Linus Torvalds’s work has kept the web open for the pursuit of knowledge and for the benefit of humanity – not simply for financial interests,” he added.
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