Linus Torvalds

On this date in 1969, Linus Torvalds was born in Helsinki, Finland. He was named after the American chemist Linus Pauling. He started using computers when he was 10 and soon was writing programs using the BASIC language on his grandfather’s Commodore computer. Torvalds earned his M.S. in computer science from the University of Helsinki in 1996, where he was introduced to the Unix operating system.

In 1991 he started creating the innovative Linux software program that was the kernel used to complete the GNU free operating system started by atheist and FFRF supporter Richard Stallman in 1983-84. The GNU operating system is often incorrectly called “Linux” by the public. GNU is a self-referential acronym for “GNU’s Not Unix!” — chosen because GNU’s design is Unix-like but differs from Unix by being free software and containing no Unix code.

Torvalds received multiple awards for his work with Linux, and the asteroid 9793 Torvalds was named after him. He worked for Transmeta Corporation from 1997 to 2003. He appeared in the 2001 documentary “Revolution OS” and wrote an autobiography titled Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary (2001). He married Tove Monni in 1997 and they have three daughters, Patricia Miranda, Daniela Yolanda and Celeste Amanda. Torvalds became a U.S. citizen in 2010.

Torvalds described himself as “completely a-religious” and “atheist” in a 1999 Linux Journal interview. He explained his reason for being an atheist: “I find it kind of distasteful having religions that tell you what you can do and what you can’t do.”

2014 Photo by Krd under CC 3.0.

Freedom From Religion Foundation