The Most Important Programmers in History

Meet the people who have contributed a lot to the advancement of computing and digital technologies in general in the world

Today we have a good number of talented programmers, responsible for services that we didn’t even imagine would exist a few years ago. But a considerable part of their work would not have been possible without those who came before or who worked behind the scenes of technology. We then selected some of the most important and influential computer scientists and programmers in relatively recent history. They are writers and creators of fundamental languages ​​and technologies to this day.

Famous Software Creators That Made History

First of it, by the way, is Ada Lovelace, considered the first programmer in history.

Vint Cerf

Recognized as one of the fathers of the internet, Vint Cerf was largely responsible for the development of TCP/IP technology. The system serves as the foundation for today’s web, and allows end-to-end connection and communication. The American was also instrumental in creating the first commercial email system, MCI Mail, and ICANN, the body that manages the many domains spread across the internet.

Tim Berners-Lee

The British computer scientist falls into the same category as Cerf and is “father” from another essential aspect of today’s internet: the World Wide Web. He was who, at the end of the 80s, managed to make a client and an HTTP server communicate successfully over the network, basically inaugurating a new era in communication. Today, Berners-Lee is director of the World Wide Web Consortium, the W3C, responsible for web standards.

Ray Tomlinson

The American programmer implemented the first e-mail system that is known, still on ARPANET, in 1971. Even primitive, the service already used @ to separate the username from the identification of the machine it was using since messages could only be sent to people connected to the same network. The symbol is still used today, but to identify the provider used by the person, while the concept has only been expanded.

Dennis Ritchie

Died in 2011, at the age of 70, the programmer created the C programming language, between 1968 and 1973. One of the most used to date, the language influenced C++ (from Windows), Java (used in Android applications), and C#, JavaScript, Python and Objective-C and Swift, from Apple’s systems. Furthermore, Ritchie was still one of the main names behind UNIX, the base system of countless other current operating systems, including Linux, the many open source OS distributions and OS X. Ken Thompson (pictured left) and Brian Kernighan, who were also involved in the project, are also worth mentioning here.

Linus Torvalds

Linus Torvalds

After the creators of UNIX, let’s talk about the father of Linux: Torvalds started the project in 1991, as a hobby, and by September of the same year he had already written the entire kernel of an operating system. Initially called Freax, the initiative ended up becoming the basis for many operating systems today, and started being used in conjunction with software from the GNU Project hence the name GNU/Linux. The creator of the idea now owns a share of about 2% of the kernel code (which is a lot considering that it is open source), and the core systems is the most used in the world today a lot thanks to Android.

James Gosling

Coming out of the field of open source, the 59-year-old Canadian programmer is the father of the Java programming language, considered one of the most popular (if not the most) today. The idea was to create a project that was simple and familiar, but at the same time robust, portable and dynamic, offering high performance. The language is influenced by C and C++, especially, and is the basis for the SDK and, consequently, for many Android apps.

Alonzo Church

A contemporary of Grace Hopper, the late mathematician (1903 – 1995) contributed immensely to the field of computer science with his Lambda Calculus. The formal system influenced LISP, the oldest high-level programming language family still in use second only to FORTRAN. Widely used in experiments involving artificial intelligence until the 1980s, the language influenced giants like Python and Perl. John McCarthy, her creator, is another one that deserves mention here.

Edsger Dijkstra

Dutch was recognized as early as 1972 for his contributions related to various programming languages, which include an algorithm that takes his last name and an operating system informally called THE. The OS has as its main point its design based on layers the last one was the user himself, while the first one was basically the core of the system. This division of the kernel into layers is something we still see today, albeit slightly differently, in Windows NT and OS X.

Larry Wall

Creator of Perl, the American programmer is also the author of two books related to the programming language, which focused especially on facilitating reporting processes. The language is considered one of the most flexible ones today, and has already helped giant sites like Yahoo! to come out of the paper.

Guido van Rossum

Another father of the programming language, the Dutchman van Rossum is responsible for Python, one of those influenced by Perl. Focusing on “code readability”, the language developed between the late 1980s and early 1990s has a syntax that allows developers to create with fewer lines. Although newer than C and Java, for example, Python has already influenced its languages, such as JavaScript and Swift.

Alan Cooper

Billed as “the father of Visual Basic”, Cooper actually sold Microsoft a concept he dubbed “Ruby”. The project was bought by Bill Gates and turned into a professional development tool, which he eventually used to create business-oriented Windows applications, especially. The 62-year-old American is one of the few to have received a Windows Pioneer Award at the hands of Bill Gates, and won the “position” of father after Mitchell Waite dedicated a VB manual to him.

bill gates

Bill Gates

Speaking of the founder of Microsoft, he couldn’t be left out. Despite the much more commercial focus compared to other names on the list, Gates was responsible for the Altair BASIC interpreter, in 1975, and for leading the development of Windows 1.0, in 1985. The system would be succeeded by more modern versions until becoming the most used OS in the world. Now 58, Gates serves as an advisor at Microsoft and focuses his efforts on charity. Incidentally, Paul Allen, who participated in the creation of Altair Basic, also deserves a mention here.

Rasmus Lerdorf

From the younger crowd, Lerdorf is known for being the creator of PHP, which he launched in 1994. Born in Greenland and now 45 years old, the programmer created a language already installed in the code of a few hundred million websites (82%, according to the W3C count), including Facebook, Wikipedia, Twitter and some Chinese giants like Baidu and QQ.

Anders Hejlsberg

At 53, the software engineer participated in the development not of one or two, but of three programming languages ​​and systems. Hejlsberg started with Turbo Pascal, in the 1980s, and then became Delphi’s chief architect in the 1990s. Later, in 1996, he joined Microsoft and started to lead the development of C#, which only appeared in the 2000s. The programmer also takes care of TypeScript, an open source language maintained by the American company.

Marc Andreessen

Known for founding Netscape Communications and for work involving the Netscape browser, the 43-year-old American was also the creator of the first browser used on a larger scale Mosaic, in 1992. To create the program, Andreessen also had the help of Eric Bina, who would also participate in the foundation of the company, in 1994. Both were of great importance in the popularization of the Web, conceived a few years before.

Niklaus Wirth

The Swiss was awarded a Turing Award in 1984 for his work involving a range of programming languages, influenced in part by ALGOL 60. The list includes ALGOL W, Euler and, in particular, the most influential Pascal. Wirth also popularized the phrase “software is getting slower faster than hardware has been getting faster”, which would later be rephrased by Google’s Bill Gates and Larry Page.