It may seem like computer science and technology are fields that are relatively new, but there have been a great number of people whose knowledge, work, and innovation have made huge impacts on society and the world at large. Below we have listed some of the most famous people in technology who have all worked towards creating the foundation for modern computing.
1. Charles Babbage (1814 – 1827)
According to the Charles Babbage Institute, Charles Babbage is considered the “father of computing”. Originally, he created a mechanical tablet for computing that was only able to compute one type of mathematical task. In his efforts to create a machine that can compute any kind of mathematical calculation, he invented the Analytical Engine, which many consider to be the precursor to modern computers.
2. Alan Turing (1912 – 1954)
Alan Turing not only made important academic contributions to the technology field, but was also a helpful force in World War II. During the war, he used his foundation of knowledge in math, computer science, logic, and cryptology to crack German codes for the British government. Turing also created a proof that showed that automatic computation could not solve all problems, which the BBC says is the “basis for the modern theory of computation.”
3. Philip Don Estridge (1937 – 1985)
The father of the IBM Personal Computer, Philip Don Estridge is another one of the most important people in computer history. Although he died tragically in a plane crash at the age of 48, the New York Times applauded his accomplishments, saying his “skill and leadership helped guide IBM’s personal computer business to success.” From 1980 until his death in 1985, his initially small personal computer department grew to employ over 10,000 people, as the personal computer became an important tool in modern America.
4. Tim Berners-Lee (1955 – )
Tim Berners-Lee is credited with inventing the World Wide Web, which makes up the backbone of the Internet. Scientific American describes the World Wide Web as a series of linked documents, which is how we view things online today through the use of the Internet and web browsers.
5. Bill Gates (1955 – )
Bill Gates, a Harvard drop-out, is the founder of Microsoft. He had a vision for the personal computer as an important tool in the professional world and at home. With this in mind, he created the Window Operating System and Microsoft Office Suite, which have proved to be easy-to-use and affordable software for personal computers. Today, the company is a multinational technology corporation with nearly $80 billion dollars in yearly revenue.
6. James Gosling (1955 – )
James Gosling is one of the most important people in technology, because of his invention of the Java programming language. Java is unique and important for modern computing specifically, because it allows programmers to build software on one computer platform and consumers to use this software on other platforms. This is especially critical today with the number of different types of devices that we use.
7. Steve Jobs (1955 – 2010)
Steve Jobs is the co-founder of Apple and guided the company’s growth and direction up until the time of his death. He helped to revolutionize personal computers, smartphones, and tablets, as well as the music and film distribution industries. His innovations have majorly impacted how people receive and interact with information and entertainment. Today, Apple has become the “world’s most valuable brand,” surpassing even Coca-Cola.
8. Mark Zuckerberg (1984– )
Mark Zuckerberg is the second Harvard dropout on this list, but his achievements are no less impressive. Mark Zuckerberg co-founded Facebook, the popular social networking site, with his college roommates from their dorm room With Zuckerberg at the helm as CEO, Facebook is now a multibillion-dollar company that has helped to transform how we use social media today.
While the above famous people in technology are certainly not the only professionals to influence the computer industry, they have all made a lasting impression. Each individual has left their mark in helping to create the rich and thriving tech-savvy world we live in.
With additional education, you too could take part in shaping the future of technology. Start by exploring some of the schools featured throughout our site.