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Every day you turn on a computer or a smartphone, send emails, browse the web, or Skype with a distant friend. These actions are commonplace, a normal part of the way we live today; but that wasn’t always the case. A lot of hard work and ingenuity brought humanity the technological wonders that we enjoy today. Discover eight fascinating people who completely changed the landscape of technology during their lifetimes.
When it comes to tech visionaries, the first name to pop into many heads is Steve Jobs. A tough boss, a brilliant businessman, and the driving force behind some of the world’s most innovative technology for consumers, Jobs was an undeniable genius whose products have transformed the way we live today. Smart, forceful, and insistent upon excellence, Jobs took Apple from humble beginnings and transformed it into a powerhouse of the tech world.
Bill Gates started out as a student in Seattle, Washington, and his first program was a version of tic-tac-toe on an old GE computer. Today, he is the world’s richest man, with about $77.3 billion. Gates co-founded Microsoft, which produced Windows, the world’s most widely used operating system. Some may find with his business tactics, but no one can deny that Gates definitely altered the entire tech world forever.
Born in England, Tim Berners-Lee bears the distinguished title of “Inventor of the World Wide Web.” In March 1989, he wrote a proposal for a virtual pool of information that could change and develop along with its users. According to the popular story, Berners-Lee’s boss wrote “vague but exciting” on the cover of the proposal after reading it. Later that year, Berners-Lee initiated the first successful communication between a server and an HTTP client. He now directs the World Wide Web Consortium and holds several other distinguished offices.
A lesser-known but still important figure in the technology field was Grace Hopper. During World War II, she joined the U.S. Navy and programmed the Mark I computer. Later, she led a group of computer scientists in creating the first computer language compiler. Due to her extensive work and influence with the foundations of coding and programming, she is sometimes called the “Godmother of the Internet.”
You probably email coworkers, friends, or family members every day. The man who made that communication method possible is programmer Ray Tomlinson, also known as the “Father of Email.” He also invented the modern email address format, including the “@” symbol.
Robert Tappan Morris
Not everyone who changed the technology landscape did so in a good way. Robert Tappan Morris created one of the world’s first worm viruses. It was released via the internet during the 1980s and resulted in significant financial damage and loss of productivity for businesses. The Morris Worm was just the first of many other malignant worms to plague the tech world.
Niklas Zennstrom co-founded Skype, the handy free software that you have probably used to make voice or video calls from your computer via the internet. When it was first released, Skype became the world’s fastest-growing communications trend, and it has continued to serve users well ever since.
Alan Turing, a brilliant young man from Wilmslow, England, is generally acknowledged to be the father of theoretical computer science. He built an intricate electromechanical machine for the purpose of cryptanalysis during World War II. Later on in his life, he created the first detailed design for a stored-program computer and crafted the Turing test to identify artificial intelligence. His work changed the path of technology; and had he lived beyond his forties, he might have done so much more.
There are so many innovators in the field of technology that it’s impossible to list them all— but why not give a nod to your favorite tech guru or tech pioneer? Tell us who it is in the comments.