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Java IoT: Article

Who's Missing From SYS-CON's i-Technology Top Twenty?

Our Search for the Top Twenty Software People in the World Produces 60 More Good Candidates

Related Links:
  • The i-Technology Right Stuff: Searching for the Twenty Top Software People in the World
  • Sung and Unsung i-Technology Heroes
  • Wanted: 19 More of the Top Software People in the World

    No sooner had we begun our reader-driven quest for the top twenty software people in the world than we find, thanks to energetic and insightful reader input, that it would definitely be advantageous if we now extend the field from over a hundred.

    Here we bring you a sneak peek at the sixty that we'll be adding now to the poll, with thanks to everyone who has proferred additional suggestions. Even 100 won't do this subject justice, for sure, but it will be interesting to see how the i-Technology community decides to rank them, when voting on this expanded group begins in February.

    The 60 Additions

    Gene Amdahl: Implementer in the 60s of a milestone in computer technology: the concept of compatibility between systems

    Marc Andreessen: Pioneer of Mosaic, the first browser to navigate the WWW; co-founder of Netscape

    Charles Babbage: Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge in 1828; inventor of the 'calculating machine'

    John Backus: Inventor (with IBM) of FORTRAN (FORmula TRANslator) in 1956

    Kent Beck: Creator of JUnit and pioneer of eXtreme Programming (XP)

    Bob Bemer: One of the developers of COBOL and the ASCII naming standard for IBM (1960s)

    D J Bernstein: Author of qmail

    Fred Brooks: Co-creator of OS/390, helping change the way we think about software development

    Luca Cardelli: Implementer of the first compiler for ML (the most popular typed functional language) and one of the earliest direct-manipulation user-interface editors

    Vincent Cerf: "The Father of the Internet," co-inventor with Robert Kahn of the first Internetworking Protocol, TCP

    Brad Cox: Father of Objective-C

    Alonzo Church: Co-creator with Alan Turing of the "Church-Turing Thesis"

    Alistair Cockburn: Helped craft the Agile Development Manifesto

    Edgar (Ted) Codd: "Father of Relational Databases," inventor of SQL and creator of RDBMS systems

    Larry Constantine: Inventor of data flow diagrams; presented first paper on concepts of structured design in 1968

    Ole-Johan Dahl: Developer (with Kristen Nygaard) of SIMULA, the first object-oriented programming language.

    Tom DeMarco: A principal of the computer systems think tank, Atlantic Systems Guild

    Theo de Raadt: Founder of the OpenBSD and OpenSSH projects

    Edsger W. Dijkstra: One of the moving forces behind the acceptance of computer programming as a scientific discipline; developer of the first compilers

    Brendan Eich: Inventor of JavaScript; Chief Architect of the Mozilla Project

    Robert Elz: University of Melbourne Department of Computer Science

    Richard P. Feynman: Legendary physicist and teacher, teacher of Caltech course 1983-86 called Potentialities and Limitations of Computing Machines

    Bill Gates: Chief Software Architect (and Lord High Chief Everything Else) of "the world's #1 company" (

    Adele Goldberg: Developer of SmallTalk along with Alan Kay; wrote much of the documentation

    Andy Hertzfield: Eazel developer and Macintosh forefather

    Grace Murray Hopper: Developer of the first compiled high level programming language, COBOL

    Jordan Hubbard: One of the creators of FreeBSD; currently a manager of Apple's Darwin project

    Jean D Ichbiah: Principal designer, Ada language (1977)

    Ken Iverson: Inventor of APL, later J

    William Kahan: "The Old Man of Floating-Point;" primary architect behind the IEEE 754 standard for loating-point computation

    Robert Kahn: Co-inventor with Vincent Cerf of the first Internetworking Protocol, TCP

    Mike Karels: System architect for 4.3BSD

    Alan Kay: Inventor of SmallTalk

    Gary Kildall: Author of the archetpical OS known as CP/M (control Program for Microcomputers)

    Donald Knuth: "Father of Computer Science" - author of The Art of Computer Programming; inventor of TeX, allowing typesetting of text and mathematical formulas on a PC

    Butler Lampson: Architect of Cedar/Mesa; Implementer of Xerox Alto

    Robert C. Martin: Agile software development proponent; CEO, president, and founder of Object Mentor

    Yukihiro Matsumoto ("Matz"): Creator of Ruby

    John McCarthy: Creator, with his graduate students, of Lisp

    Doug McIlroy: Head of department at Bell Labs where UNIX started

    Bob Metcalfe: Creator of Ethernet

    Chuck Moore: Inventor of Forth, a high-level programming language

    Andrew Morton: Linus's No. 2 in the kernel group

    Ted Nelson: Creator of the Xanadu project - universal, democratic hypertext library; precursor to the WWW

    Kristen Nygaard: Developer (with Ole-Johan Dahl) of SIMULA, the first object-oriented programming language.

    Peter Pag: Pioneer of 4GLS (1979); developed Software AG's Natural

    Bob Pasker: founder of WebLogic, author of the first Java Application Server

    Benjamin Pierce: Harvard University faculty member for 49 years; recognized in his time as one of America's leading mathematicians

    P J Plauger: Chair of the ANSI C committee

    Jon Postel: "The 'North Star' Who Defined the Internet"

    John Postley: Developed Mark IV (1967), the first million dollar software product, for Informatics

    Martin Richards: Designer of the BCPL Cintcode System

    Martin Roesch: Author of the open-source program Snort in 1998

    Gurusamy Sarathy: Heavily involved in maintaining the mainstream releases of Perl for the past 7 years

    Carl Sassenrath: Author of REBOL, a scripting language

    Guy L. Steele: Author of athoritative books and papers on Lisp

    W. Richard Stevens: "Guru of the Unix Gurus"; author and consultant

    Ivan Sutherland: Considered by many to be the creator of Computer Graphics

    Avadis (Avie) Tevanian: Chief Software Technology Officer, Apple

    Guy (Bud) Tribble: One of the industry's top experts in software design and object-oriented programming

    Patrick Volkerding: Creator of Slackware Linux

    Larry Wall: Author of Perl

    John Warnock: Inventor of PostScript; CEO of Adobe Systems

    Michael "Monty" Widenius: Creator of MySQL

    Nicklaus Wirth: Inventor of Algol W, Pascal, Modula, Modula-2, and Oberon

    Stephen Wolfram: Scientist, creator of Mathematica

    Jamie Zawinski: Instrumental in the creation of Lucid Emacs (now XEmacs)

    The Original 40

  • Tim Berners-Lee: "Father of the World Wide Web" and expectant father of the Semantic Web
  • Joshua Bloch: Formerly at Sun, where he helped architect Java's core platform; now at Google
  • Grady Booch: One of the original developers of the Unified Modeling Language
  • Adam Bosworth: Famous for Quattro Pro, Microsoft Access, and IE4; then BEA, now Google
  • Don Box: Coauthor of SOAP
  • Stewart Brand: Cofounder in 1984 of the WELL bulletin board
  • Tim Bray: One of the prime movers of XML, now with Sun
  • Dan Bricklin: Cocreator of VisiCalc, the first PC spreadsheet
  • Larry Brilliant: Cofounder in 1984 of the WELL bulletin board
  • Sergey Brin: Son-of-college-math-professor turned cofounder of Google, Inc.
  • Dave Cutler: The brains behind VMS; hired away by Microsoft for Windows NT
  • Don Ferguson: Inventor of the J2EE application server at IBM
  • Roy T. Fielding: Primary architect of HTTP 1.1 and a founder of the Apache Web server
  • Bob Frankston: Cocreator of VisiCalc, the first PC spreadsheet
  • Jon Gay: The "Father of Flash"
  • http: ?>James Gosling: "Father of Java" (though not its sole parent)
  • http: ?>Anders Hejlsberg: Genius behind the Turbo Pascal compiler, subsequently "Father of C#"
  • Daniel W. Hillis: VP of R&D at the Walt Disney Company; cofounder, Thinking Machines
  • Miguel de Icaza: Now with Novell, cofounder of Ximian
  • Martin Fowler: Famous for work on refactoring, XP, and UML
  • Bill Joy: Cofounder and former chief scientist of Sun; main author of Berkeley Unix
  • Mitch Kapor: Designer of Lotus 1-2-3, founder of Lotus Development Corporation
  • Brian Kernighan: One of the creators of the AWK and AMPL languages
  • Mitchell Kertzman: Former programmer, founder, and CEO of Powersoft (later Sybase)
  • Klaus Knopper: Prime mover of Knoppix, a Linux distro that runs directly from a CD
  • Craig McClanahan: Of Tomcat, Struts, and JSF fame
  • Nathan Myhrvold: Theoretical and mathematical physicist, former CTO at Microsoft
  • Tim O'Reilly: Publisher, open source advocate; believer that great technology needs great books
  • Jean Paoli: One of the co-creators of the XML 1.0 standard with the W3C; now with Microsoft
  • John Patrick: Former VP of Internet technology at IBM, now "e-tired"
  • Rob Pike: An early developer of Unix and windowing system (GUI) technology
  • Dennis Ritchie: Creator of C and coinventor of Unix
  • Richard Stallman: Free software movement's leading figure; founder of the GNU Project
  • Bjarne Stroustrup: The designer and original implementor of C++
  • Andy Tanenbaum: Professor of computer science, author of Minix
  • Ken Thompson: Coinventor of Unix
  • Linus Torvalds: "Benevolent dictator" of the Linux kernel
  • Alan Turing: Mathematician; author of the 1950 paper "Computing Machinery and Intelligence"
  • Guido van Rossum: Author of the Python programming language
  • Ann Winblad: Former programmer, cofounder of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners

    Related Links:

  • The i-Technology Right Stuff: Searching for the Twenty Top Software People in the World
  • Sung and Unsung i-Technology Heroes
  • Wanted: 19 More of the Top Software People in the World
  • More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

    Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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    Most Recent Comments
    Wolbdrab 01/20/05 03:36:39 PM EST

    Glad to see John von Neumann and John Backus recommended.
    I would add Lady Ada Lovelace, Nicholas Negroponti, and William Gibson(!) (first explorer of cyberspace).

    Kelly 01/18/05 10:57:39 PM EST

    Overall, a very reasonable list. Lots of luminaries there. Then I saw "Kent Beck, creator of JUnit and pioneer of XTreme Programming" Ergh! Sorry, I just vomited a little bit, in my mouth... Give me a break! JUnit took what? An afternoon to come up with? There is no genius in JUnit, unless you count the hype machine that culimated in Kent Beck's name appearing on this list.

    Eric Sarjeant 12/22/04 09:24:46 AM EST

    Are you kidding me, where is Steve Wozniak???

    Anand Pillai 12/19/04 11:55:48 AM EST

    I think Ward Cunningham, the creator of the "Wiki" deserves to be added to the list. If not the top 40, then surely the next 60.

    Considering Perl is as popular (if not more) as Python,
    Larry Wall should also have been mentioned.

    eg 12/15/04 02:57:02 PM EST

    You have to include David L. Parnas!!!

    "Inventor of the Internet" Missing? 12/15/04 08:48:33 AM EST

    Shouldn't Al Gore get a token place in the list?

    "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."


    Khashishi 12/15/04 08:45:20 AM EST

    In any reasonably sized list, there will always be some people who are overlooked. Don't go around bashing the makers for having some unfair criteria or for missing your hero. On the other hand, go ahead and post people who have been overlooked, but don't get pissed about it.

    Duty Editor 12/15/04 03:55:42 AM EST

    We can confirm that Kristen is a male name (Norwegian) not female! Good news: Doug Engelbart is on the expanded list, as you'll when the second round voting opens shortly - we received another passionate nomination too, as follows:

    "Nothing said about this incredible engineer will describe in full justice the incredible ideas he put forward. He set the tone for modern computing, and his ideas have only recently been brought to the masses: email, teleconferencing, collaborative computing, hypertext, the graphical interface idea, the mouse, a one-handed keyboard, online help systems and much much more!
    His ideas were materialized as the NLS, an integrated idea processing system, which met an unfortunate end. His vision, however, was an inspiration for engineers at XEROX PARC (Palo Alto Research Center), which created some impressive systems such at the ALTO, and the STAR. The work at PARC was in turn an inspiration for Apple which is, today, the leading innovator in computing technology."

    Jo Are Rosland 12/15/04 03:47:26 AM EST

    OK, Kristen Nygaard is definitely male (or, rather, was. Both he and Ole Johan Dahl have passed away in the last couple of years)

    One more (male, unfortunately) omission: Doug Engelbart (who should also end up in the top 5)

    OOPS 12/14/04 12:51:24 PM EST

    Bertrand Meyer not on the list? (Eiffel and Design By Contract)

    Wil 12/14/04 11:21:22 AM EST

    If this is supposed to cover the whole history of software (including deceased pioneers), then how the heck can the list not **start** with the name of John von Neumann???? And if you included Charles Babbage (the first hardware guy), shouldn't you certainly include his assistant Countess Ada Lovelace (the first software person)? And I must say I'm quite surprised to see no mention at all of Douglas Englebart, even if he is known more popularly for hardware (by inventing the mouse) than for his software inventions (windows, hypertext) on user interfaces, which it was meant to enable.

    MikeO 12/14/04 10:32:14 AM EST

    Chris Date

    Alon Cohen 12/14/04 09:45:33 AM EST

    I may be a bit late, but I decided to try anyway, as I feel you have left out a good chunk of a very important software revolution which has happened in the past 10 years and is still happening as we speak.

    I am talking about VoIP.

    Jo Are Rosland 12/14/04 09:12:29 AM EST

    How about: Marvin Minsky, John von Neumann, C.A.R. Hoare?

    SimulaGirl 12/14/04 08:05:06 AM EST

    >>>Donald Knuth: "Father of Computer Science" - author of The Art of Computer Programming; inventor of TeX, allowing typesetting of text and mathematical formulas on a PC<<<

    Great to see Don Knuth now in his warranted place among this top 100...and doubtless among the top 5 by the time we're through...

    SimulaGirl 12/14/04 07:38:23 AM EST

    I am surprised that no one has realized that even on this extended list there are only two women - out of over 100.

    Adele Goldberg - who helped Ala Kay with developing SmallTalk - and Grace Murray Hopper.

    DistaffSide, think you've missed Kristen Nygaard, who developed the first object-oriented programming language, SIMULA, with Ole-Johan Dahl, They're both here on this new list. Female hackers unite!

    Apples&Oranges? 12/13/04 08:59:38 PM EST

    How is one to compare the relative merits - in terms of being "top software people" - of, say, James Gosling versus Bill Gates? Or Bill Gates versus Vincent Cerf? this is going to be a very very difficult exercise. Only the very brave would dare bet on the final outcome, if the aim is still to cull the overall expanded list down to 20. 80% of these folks seem to be indisputably "top" people to me. There will be bloodshed once the new voting gets of the ground!

    DistaffSide 12/13/04 08:36:01 PM EST

    I am surprised that no one has realized that even on this extended list there are only two women - out of over 100.

    Adele Goldberg - who helped Ala Kay with developing SmallTalk - and Grace Murray Hopper.

    in AWE 12/13/04 08:24:33 PM EST

    Just running one's eye down the new, expanded list is enough to reassure us that technology hasn't reached a plateau as some would argue but that it remains in high gear: there seems to be no let-up in innovation and brilliance, whether we look at the early mathematician-pioneers or the later bytecode masters. This is human innovation at its best. We should salute these 100 or so incredibly gifted individuals as an affirmation of what's possible...and of some things that (as yet) aren't. Magnificent!

    In memory of Edgar F. Codd 12/13/04 08:17:21 PM EST

    I share the previous poster's pleasure at seeing this list expanded. I am not certain how true it is, though, to say that Ted Codd "invented" SQL, at least not in a syntactical sense.

    Some consider SQL an imperfect relational language anyhow.

    Welcome Alonzo 12/13/04 08:12:44 PM EST

    What a delight to see Alonzo Church - his work is of major importance in mathematical logic, recursion theory and in theoretical computer science. Lambda Calculus, which he created in the 1930s, remains an invaluable tool for computer scientists today.

    Toby 12/13/04 05:39:44 PM EST

    Why not leave it at 40, just remove the dead wood (Myhrvold? Winblad? wtf??) and actually put some serious effort into a) defining the criteria and b) sorting the candidates.

    Eric Herman 12/13/04 12:58:16 PM EST

    Joshua Bloch made the list but Doug Lea didn't? Odd. (Not to knock Bloch, his work has been good and valuable.) Anyway, perhaps I'm biased, but I hope Monty makes the final cut. :-)

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