Most people in the free software world know that before he wrote Linux, Linus was using the Minix operating system. To run it, he had to acquire his first "proper" PC - his main machine until then was the Sinclair QL (remember that?). As he told me a few years ago, the PC arrived early in 1991:
"I had Christmas money."
He remembered the machine's spec:
"386, DX33, 4 Megs of RAM, no co-processor; 40 Megs hard disc."
It took a while for Minix to turn up, and in his first published interview, with Linux News in autumn 1992, he explained what happened next:
"While I got my machine on January 5th 1991, I was forced to run DOS on it for a couple of months while waiting for the Minix discs. Jan-Feb was spent about 70-30 playing Prince of Persia and getting acquainted with the machine."
In PoP, I'm actually pretty good at the acrobatics (I like the platforming part, and I've played all the versions of PoP over the years), but the fights are really frustrating. You're supposed to be able to create those wondrous fight sequences with the right button combinations. I can't do it, so I just flail wildly around, mashing the buttons as best I can, and eventually I wear the opponent down. I'm pretty certain some of the bosses just decided that suicide was better than watching me jump around and hit things at random. Or maybe I just embarrassed them to death. But as long as they die, I don't care.
It somehow seems appropriate that as well as continuing to devote himself to the development of the Linux kernel, Linus is still playing the games that occupied him at the time of its birth.
Find your next job with computerworld UK jobs