News Center

News from the Reed College public affairs office

Search: or

Features

Campus News

Linux creator Linus Torvalds honored with Reed College's Vollum Award


The Vollum Award for Distinguished Accomplishment in Science and Technology was presented to Torvalds at Reed's convocation ceremonies


vollum awards image

Award recipient Linus Torvalds, Dean of Faculty Peter Steinberger, and Reed College President Colin Diver



PORTLAND, OR (August 24, 2005) - Reed College president Colin Diver officially opened the 2005-06 academic year at Reed College with convocation ceremonies at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, August 24, in the Kaul Auditorium on the Reed campus.

At the ceremonies, the prestigious Vollum Award for Distinguished Accomplishment in Science and Technology was presented to Linus Torvalds. Torvalds, a Fellow at the Open Source Development Lab (OSDL) in Beaverton, Oregon, is the creator of the computer operating system Linux. OSDL is a non-profit organization, founded in 2000, and supported by a global consortium of leading technology companies, dedicated to accelerating the growth and adoption of Linux.

Reed's convocation ceremony also included a brief lecture on "Siren Songs: Allegorizing The Odyssey" by Robert Knapp, the Richard F. Arragon Professor of English and Humanities.

Linus Torvalds
Torvalds was born in Helsinki, Finland. He earned his M.S. in computer science from the University of Helsinki. While a student at the University of Helsinki in 1991, he created the Linux kernel--part of the operating system that manages memory. He sought a reliable operating system with technological sophistication, yet more affordable than other operating systems for mainframes and computer workstations.

He soon offered his Linux program for free, and posted the source code so that other programmers could experiment on their own, making modifications at will. With input received from these programmers, Linux became exceedingly reliable, efficient, and accessible; it can be downloaded free from the Internet.

In 1997, Torvalds moved to the United States to work as an engineer for Transmeta Corporation in Santa Clara, California, leaving the company to become a Fellow at OSDL in 2003. He now works exclusively on the development of the Linux kernel.

Torvalds was named "Person of the Year" by PC Magazine in 1999. In 2001, he shared the first Takeda Award for Social/Economic Well-Being with Richard Stallman and Ken Sakamura. This award was established by Japan's Takeda Foundation to honor and encourage contributions in science and technology. In 2004, he was recognized by Time magazine as one of the most influential people in the world. He is the recipient of honorary Ph.D.s from the University of Helsinki and Stockholm University.

With David Diamond, he co-authored an autobiography, Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary. In the autobiography, Torvalds urges every company to take an open-source approach: to share information throughout management and to invite outsiders to be part of decision-making issues. The result of this strategy, according to Torvalds, is that companies would move from being "predictably successful," to being "unpredictably really, really, really successful."