Linux Versus E. coli
In 1991, a 21-year-old Finnish computer science student named Linus Torvald got annoyed. He had bought a personal computer to use at home, but he couldn’t find an operating system for it that was as robust as Unix, the system he used on the computers at the University of Helsinki. So he wrote one. He posted it online, free for anyone to download. But he required that anyone who figured out a way to make it better would have share the improvement with everyone else who used the system. Torvald would later tell Wired that his motives were not noble. “I didn’t want the headache of trying to deal with parts of the operating system that I saw as the crap work,” he said. “I wanted help.”
In his quest to avoid crap work, Torvald unleashed a monster. People began to download the system, dubbed Linux, all over the world. Within a few weeks, Torvald was getting emails from hundreds of users, explaining how to fix bugs and how to add new bells and whistles. People began to write programs that would only work on Linux computer. They founded companies around Linux-based software. Millions of people chose Linux for their computers, and major computer companies like Microsoft and Dell begn to support the system. Along the way, Linux evolved. Torvald’s first version contained 10,000 lines of code. Linux now holds over 12 million lines.