Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux, has been named joint winner of the 2012 Millennium Technology Prize.
He shares the honour with Dr Shinya Yamanaka, a stem cell scientist.
Technology Academy Finland said Mr Torvalds's achievements had "had a great impact on shared software development, networking and the openness of the web".
It is the first time the bi-annual award has been split. Each man receives 600,000 euros ($752,000; £483,000).
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The Linux kernel - the code that lets software and hardware work together - has since been through many revisions. It now powers a range of Linux-based systems behind many of the world's computer servers, digital video recorders, stock exchange equipment and Google's Android smartphone platform.
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"Linus Torvalds's work has kept the web open for the pursuit of knowledge and the benefit of humanity - not simply for financial interests," said Dr Ainomaija Haarla, president of Technology Academy Finland.
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Mr Torvalds recently revealed that over the years, others - including Apple's founder, Steve Jobs - had tried to tempt him to switch jobs.
But he told the BBC that he had no intention of leaving the Linux Foundation - the non-profit organisation committed to promoting and supporting the kernel's development.