Linus Torvalds wins the tech. equivalent of a Nobel Prize: the Millennium Technology Prize.

Linux Creator's Linus Torvalds is one of two laureates for the Millennium Technology Prize. This award is close as technology has to a Nobel Prize.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Linus Torvalds, Linux s creator, has won technology's highest award.

Linus Torvalds, Linux's creator, has won technology's highest award.

You can win Nobel prizes for physics, chemistry, and medicine, but technology? No. There is, however the Millennium Technology Prize. This is the world's largest technology prize. It is rewarded ever two years for a technological innovation that significantly improves the quality of human life, today and in the future. This year, Linus Torvalds, Linux's creator, and Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, maker of a new way to create stem cells without the use of embryonic stem cells, are both laureates for the 2012 Millennium Technology Prize.

This prize, which is determined by the Technology Academy of Finland, is one of the world’s largest such prizes with candidates sought from across the world and from all fields of technology. The two innovators will share over a million Euros. The final winner will be announced by the President of the Republic of Finland in a special ceremony on June 13, 2012.

Gallery: The 20 most significant events in Linux's 20-year history

Previous winners include Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web; Professor Robert Langer for his invention and development of innovative biomaterials for controlled drug release and tissue regeneration; and Professor Michael Gratzel for his innovative developments in dye-sensitized solar cells.

“The Millennium Technology Prize is like the Nobel Peace Prize of technology,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation. “Linus Torvalds embodies the innovation and collaborative spirit that this award stands for, and we congratulate him on this tremendous honor.”

In response to the reward, Linus said, “Software is too important in the modern world not to be developed through open source. The real impact of Linux is as a way to allow people and companies to build on top of it to do their own thing. We’re finally getting to the point where “data is just data”, and we don’t have all these insane special communications channels for different forms of data.”

Is it deserved? Well, judge for yourself. Since Torvalds created Linux in 1991, it has become the world’s most ubiquitous operating system it powers the popular Android phones and eight out of 10 financial trades; it runs Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter and other major web networks. It is the dominant OS for supercomputers, supporting nine of 10 of these major systems, and is the preferable platform for cloud computing. Yes, I think we can safely say this award was richly deserved.

Congratulations Linus!

Related Stories:

Twenty Years of Linux according to Linus Torvalds 20 Years of Linux down, and the best is yet to come

Editorial standards