Just Chris


Don’t Ever Forget About Linus Torvalds

“Giant” Penguin

I don’t think Torvalds has Zuckerberg’s PR department.

A Google search of Mark Zuckerberg in 2017 gets 27.5 Million results. Torvalds. 500,000. It’s a crude measure of popularity, anyway...

History has a way of picking and choosing who is venerated. I have to believe that people who lived 100 years ago would be surprised at who from that era is widely admired today, and who was forgotten.

Many have said, “we stand on the shoulders of giants”. Too often, no one knows the giants names.

There’s no doubt Facebook will be a force for the rest of our lifetimes. People won’t forget about Zuckerberg. Rightfully so. Torvalds, I’m not so sure.

He won’t be forgotten amongst hackers. But, the technology industry
Increasingly, VCs and money, Wall street and ARR gets the attention. That’s the trend, and there’s only so much attention to go around.

So, just in case.. Here’s one more Google result to add to the 500k. 
A brief tribute of sorts, to live on in the Internet.

Computing has changed in the last 20 years. There was a time before every single-page web app needed its own corporation.

When the Internet blew up, it happened quickly. 1994. That was the pivotal year. Soon after, two shocking things happened. Sandra Bullock starred in the movie The Net, and as I recall a TV commercial for Yahoo appeared.

It was like having a neighborhood treehouse club with your friends, and suddenly they were making a movie about your club and your treehouse is on television. There was big tech business before 1994, but not near like today.

Here’s a quick example, PCs sell 15x today what they sold in 1998. In a mobile world where PCs are almost a joke!

It probably would have happened without Torvalds. After all, there was Gates, Andreessen, Oracle, IBM. But without Torvalds, it would have been different. I remember first reading about Linux in the mid-90s and thinking, someday this may be ubiquitous. It has been for a long time now.

Which brings me to Git. Maddening in trying to master it, but it’s a work of art. A lesson on how to think about a problem and design a brilliant solution. The source control systems pre-Git were the best multi-billion dollar companies could come up with. They didn’t have the imagination to create a solution like Git.

Fast forward to 2017. Instant communication everywhere. Billions of computers in everyone’s pockets. Over 2 billion run Android. And guess what OS runs under that.

All that stuff you can’t live without. Facebook, Twitter, AirBnB, Uber, Medium, your PC, phone, business systems, consumer systems. Much of it runs on the tech that ONE GUY invented.

Oracle had a marketing slogan a while back. It was great, as far as slogans go. In big red letters. ORACLE SOFTWARE POWERS THE INTERNET

That can honestly be said about Torvalds’ inventions.

Hacking lives on, if you can stay out of Federal Prison, but people are ultimately more enamored with the big money. The tech press, especially. Chasing dollars and begging millionaire 20-somethings? Networking, even? Not exactly what I like to call, the Hacker way.

So, in a tech world that at times has gotten a little full of itself, who else but Torvalds comes out and says all the innovation fluff is bullshit! Work hard. I can’t think of any other prominent person in tech with that message, that has done more to make it all possible.

That’s the Hacker way.

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