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Flashback: "I’m Doing a (Free) Operating System (Just a Hobby)" – Linus Torvalds

22 years ago today Linus Torvalds sent the email that started it all

Twenty-two years ago today, a Finnish student by the name of Linus Torvalds sent an email that is now one of the iconic communications of the Internet era.

In it, he told the comp.os.minix usenet newsgroup – a newsgroup for all those using minix (from "mini-Unix"), a Unix-like computer operating system based on a microkernel architecture created by computer science professor Andy Tanenbaum – that he was "doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu) for 386 (486) AT clones."

The rest, as they say, is history.  From that fateful email in 1992 grew the Linux operating system.



Torvalds' 25 August 1991 email ended with a P.S. about his new, free and as-yet-unnamed OS:

"[I]t's free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs. It is NOT portable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that's all I have."

In 1992, the Linux kernel was released under the GNU General Public License and in 1996 the now-familiar penguin mascot (Tux) was first adopted.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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