It's a booming industry with exciting opportunities and innovations taking place every day. But who's really making waves in programming and software development? And, who's responsible for getting the industry where it is today? From 19th century female pioneers to the youngest centibillionaire ever, we take a look at the most inspiring and influential software developers of all time...
Who are the most influential programmers of all time?
Born in 1815, mathematician Ada Lovelace is known as the world's first computer programmer. As the daughter of famed poet, Lord Byron, Ada had good standing in society and was given access to fields where women were traditionally excluded. She was mentored by mathematician and mechanical engineer, Charles Babbage, and is credited for inventing the world's first computer program, which she wrote for Babbage's computer. Today, the second Tuesday of October is Ada Lovelace Day, where women in science, technology, engineering and maths are celebrated in Ada's name.
Renowned English mathematician, computer scientist and logician, Alan Turing played a vital role in WWII. He developed the Turing machine, a device that could simulate computer algorithms and help decipher coded messages sent by the Germans during the war. He said, "A computer would deserve to be called intelligent if it could deceive a human into believing that it was human." Turing is known as one of the great heroes of WWII and the father of modern-day computing. Check out the Academy Award-winning film The Imitation Game to learn more about his fascinating life.
Where would we be without Larry Page and his Google co-founder Sergey Brin? Larry is an American computer scientist known for inventing the pioneering search engine we all use every day. Larry created Google's search ranking algorithm, PageRank and is the CEO of Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc. This internet entrepreneur is definitely one of the most influential computer scientists and programmers of our time.
Another remarkable man of our generation. Love him or hate him, Bill Gates is responsible for much of the technology we use in our daily lives. He founded the mega tech company, Microsoft Corporation, back in 1975. And went on to become one of the most famous American business magnates of the 21st century. Today, he's an investor, philanthropist, humanitarian and author of several books, including this year's How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need .
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The famous co-founder of Facebook, and a sometimes controversial media magnate. Mark Zuckerberg was initially a psychology major at Harvard University, though he apparently attended more computer science classes than anything else. He built the first iteration of Facebook in 2004, and is still currently the CEO of the company. Not to mention, he was recently named the world's youngest centibillionaire with a net worth of over $100 billion. All this, and at the tender age of 36.
Trained as a lawyer, Mitchell set her sights on programming when she helped create Netscape's open-source software license as part of their legal team. The experience inspired her to develop her own open-source company called the Mozilla Project. This enterprise is best known for being the company behind web browsing system, Mozilla Firefox. Today, Firefox offers top-class web browsing solutions. Her involvement in open-source software and the Mozilla Corporation led Mitchell to be named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in 2005.
Known to most as a beautiful Hollywood superstar, Hedy Lamarr made her biggest contribution to the world in a totally different industry. Without this woman, the wireless technology known as Wi-Fi wouldn't exist, and who knows how we'd be communicating today. During WWII, Hedy invented a radio guidance system to help guide underwater missiles and keep the Allies' location unknown. This communication system would later be used as the basis of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS technology. Not just a pretty face...
This English engineer and computer scientist absolutely changed the way the modern world works. His great accomplishment? He's known as having invented the World Wide Web in 1989, and is the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). It's hard to imagine the world before the World Wide Web, so he's surely an influential computer engineer of our time. Tim has been inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame, and was knighted by H.M Queen Elizabeth in 2004.
This inspiring woman is celebrated as one of the most important and acclaimed computer scientists to have ever lived. In her extraordinary life, she led a dual career as a computer scientist and naval officer in America. In her capacity as a computer scientist and programmer, she was a woman of firsts. At Harvard, she was part of the team that developed the first computer, the Mark 1. Then, she went on to help create the world's first commercial computer during WWII. And, she's even credited as having developed the first universal programming language for business, COBOL. She passed away in 1992, but her contribution to software development will never be forgotten.
Guido van Rossum
Celebrated Dutch programmer, Guido is best known for having created the widely-used programming language, Python. He has a decorated CV, having worked for Google and Dropbox in the past. He's also authored dozens of books about the programming language, Python. Today, he is retired and enjoying an active life on Twitter.