Who Are The All-Time Heroes of i-Technology?
February 5, 2007
From Ada, Countess of Lovelace to Jamie Zawinski
Web 2.0 Article
By Jeremy Geelan
I wonder how many people, as I did, found themselves thrown into confusion by the death last week of Jean Ichbiah, inventor of Ada.
Learning that the inventor of a computer programming language is already old enough to have lived 66 years (Ichbiah was 66 when he succumbed to brain cancer) is a little like learning that your 11-year-old daughter has grown up and left home or that the first car you ever bought no longer is legal because it runs on gasoline in an age where all automobiles must run on water. How can something as novel, as new, as a computing language possibly already be so old-fangled that an early practitioner like Ichbiah can already no longer be with us?
The thought was so disquieting that it took me immediately back to the last time I wrote about Ichbiah, and indeed about Ada Lovelace for whom his language was named. It was in the context of my quest a couple of years ago to identify the Top Twenty Software People in the World.
It began as an innocent enough exercise, inadvertently kick-started by Tim Bray writing in his popular “Ongoing” blog about how he rated Google’s Adam Bosworth as “probably one of the top 20 software people in the world.” Already famous for Quattro Pro, Microsoft Access, and Internet Explorer 4 even before he joined BEA as VP of engineering in 2001, when BEA bought Crossgain, the company he’d by then cofounded after leaving Microsoft, Bosworth went on to become BEA’s chief architect before leaving to join Google. Definitely a shoo-in for the Top Twenty then. But the question naturally arose – or at least it did in my mind – who are the other 19?
I knew that it would not be easy to answer, and not because there are too few candidates but because there are too many. The names of today’s leading i-technologists – whose collective smarts Internet technologies rely on for their unceasing innovation and ingenuity – trip off most people’s tongues in a heartbeat: just think of Sergey Brin, Bill Joy, Linus Torvalds, Tim Berners-Lee, James Gosling, Anders Hejlsberg, Don Box, Nathan Myhrvold, W. Daniel Hillis, Mitch Kapor… all clear members of the “technorati” or “digerati” – call them what you will – the undisputed aristocrats of the online world.
But what about those who came before, the precursors of the current crop of talent? I wrote at the time:
“Can a list of the Top 20 i-Technologists possibly be compiled that doesn’t cause the online equivalent of fistfights when published? Obviously not. But that shouldn’t deter us from trying.”
My inbox soon began to fill up with a deluge of nominations, and within days I was able to list forty mind-bogglingly gifted candidates, as follows :
- 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: Co-author of SOAP
- Stewart Brand: Co-founder in 1984 of the WELL bulletin board
- Tim Bray: One of the prime movers of XML, now with Sun
- Dan Bricklin: Co-creator (with Bob Frankston) of VisiCalc, the first PC spreadsheet
- Larry Brilliant: Co-founder in 1984 of the WELL bulletin board
- Sergey Brin: Son-of-college-math-professor turned co-founder of Google
- Dave Cutler: The brains behind VMS; hired away by Microsoft for Windows NT
- Don Ferguson: Inventor of the J2EE application server at IBM, now with Microsoft
- Roy T. Fielding: Primary architect of HTTP 1.1 and a founder of the Apache Web server
- Bob Frankston: Cocreator (with Dan Bricklin) of VisiCalc, the first PC spreadsheet
- Jon Gay: The “Father of Flash”
- James Gosling: “Father of Java” (though not its sole parent)
- 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: Co-founder of Ximian, now with Novell
- Martin Fowler: Famous for work on refactoring, XP, and UML
- Bill Joy: Co-founder 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: Co-inventor 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
Brief Description: Former VP of Internet technology at IBM, now “e-tired”
John Patrick was vice president of Internet Technology at IBM Corporation, where he worked for 34 years until he “e-tired” at the end of 2001. Widely described as a leading Internet visionary, Patrick believes the next generation of the Internet is about to make today’s Internet seem primitive.
During his IBM career, Patrick helped start IBM’s leasing business at IBM Credit Corporation, and was senior marketing executive during the launch of the IBM ThinkPad. It was in the early 1990s, that he began dedicating his time to fostering Internet technologies.
His blog is one of the most-read in the industry, and here he not only continues to expound on his theory that only 4-5% of the Internet’s potential is being used, but also packs it full of other observations and insights too.
“Blogs can potentially deliver the grassroots discussions and knowledge-sharing that top-down, corporate-sponsored efforts never could,” he has said, adding:
“I think this blog phenomenon is one of those things that comes along every decade or so and gets completely underestimated by just about everybody. It’s very much like what’s going on with Wi-Fi now, and very much what happened with the Web ten years ago. Blogs are a whole new Internet channel, yet another example of how the Internet has made it possible for new ideas to come along and change the status quo.”
Original link for this article: http://www.sys-con.com/node/331813