Wired has a great piece on Linus Torvalds. Linus is one of the most under appreciated people in the world. We all interact with his work daily, yet very few even know what his work is, much less him. Even Steve Jobs apparently realized that:
Torvalds has never met Bill Gates, but around 2000, when he was still working at Transmeta, he met Steve Jobs. Jobs invited him to Apple’s Cupertino campus and tried to hire him. “Unix for the biggest user base: that was the pitch,” says Torvalds. The condition: He’d have to drop Linux development. “He wanted me to work at Apple doing non-Linux things,” he said. That was a non-starter for Torvalds. Besides, he hated Mac OS’s Mach kernel.
“I said no,” Torvalds remembers.
Had he said “yes”, the world could be a very different place. Mac OS X surely would be different, same for iOS. Linux would also be different as the kernel would have likely lost some steam as different folks forked and went their separate ways. Linus is a driving force and a constant in the Linux world. Linux runs many of the most popular services in the world from Google to Facebook to the Android OS among others. It’s being free, open and a rock solid OS is part of what helped these companies grow.
It’s amazing to think how far that chain reaction would go.