Linus Torvalds was born on December 28, 1969 in Helsinki, Finland. His parents were communist radicals and other children used to tease Linus about it.
Linus expressed his intelligence at a very early age. His grandfather bought a Commodore VIC 20, one of the first personal computers, and Linus learned to write computer games for it when he was twelve. He became obsessed with computers and programming, buying many books on the subject. When his grandfather died, he was given the computer to work on at home.
He was described as a perfectionist and sore loser. He was very focused on computers and ignored other activities such as sports to program in solitude. He later invested in a Sinclair QL computer, which was invented by a British man named Clive Sinclair.
In 1988, Linus began studying computer science at the University of Helsinki. He invested in a better computer with a 386 processor and began learning the assembly language for the processor. He coded a number of advanced software projects, including a floppy disk driver and software assembler.
In 1990, he began learning Unix when the university purchased a MicroVAX system. He decided to start writing his own Unix kernel for personal computers and spent half of a year in front of the PC coding. Once he started using the C programming language, his productivity increased greatly.
The product of his hard work became known as Linux. Linux was released as an open source kernel, meaning that anyone could write operating systems around it without having to pay anything. It quickly became a symbol of the open source movement, with a tuxedo penguin as its mascot.
Over the next decade, it became more and more popular as more people decided to abandon Microsoft Windows in favor of free operating systems that utilized the Linux kernel. Today, the Linux movement is still perceived as a threat to Microsoft, which currently has a tight grip on the world's personal computers. The many Linux-based operating systems include Red Hat, Knoppix, Debian, and Fedora.
From 1997 to 2003, Linux worked for Transmeta Corporation. He currently works for Open Source Development Labs in Beaverton, Oregon.
To handle Linux matters, Linus created Linux International, a non-profit corporation that holds the trademark name Linux. In 2004 he was named one of the world's most influential people by Time Magazine.