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Linus Torvalds Leads Over Turing, Stroustrup, Stallman, Ritchie, and Berners-Lee

Linus Torvalds Leads Over Turing, Stroustrup, Stallman, Ritchie, and Berners-Lee

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

    It began, as these things often do, as a chance remark, in a blog. Now it has grown to a Web-wide search for the best software people alive and dead. The best ever.

    The tiny acorn was born when Tim Bray in his popular Ongoing blog described Adam Bosworth - of Quattro Pro, Microsoft Access, IE4, then BEA and now Google fame - as "probably one of the top 20 software people in the world."

    The search for the remaining 19 began, and resulted in a list of forty nominees that are now being discussed and voted on by anyone interested in i-Technology and its software development pioneers.

    Currently the leading twenty as of Monday morning 5:00AM EST are as follows (but obviously it is changing by the hour as votes come in):

    1. 483 Linus Torvalds: "Benevolent dictator" of the Linux kernel
    2. 409 Alan Turing: Mathematician; author of the 1950 paper "Computing Machinery and Intelligence"
    3. 318 Bjarne Stroustrup: The designer and original implementor of C++
    4. 293 Richard Stallman: Free software movement's leading figure; founder of the GNU Project
    5. 271 Dennis Ritchie: Creator of C and Coinventor of Unix
    6. 221 Tim Berners-Lee: "Father of the World Wide Web" and expectant father of the Semantic Web
    7. 189 Ken Thompson: Coinventor of Unix
    8. 136 Guido van Rossum: Author of the Python programming language
    9. 123 Bill Joy: Cofounder and former chief scientist of Sun; main author of Berkeley Unix
    10. 121 Brian Kernighan: One of the creators of the AWK and AMPL languages
    11. 107 James Gosling: "Father of Java" (though not its sole parent)
    12. 100 Andy Tanenbaum: Professor of computer science, author of Minix
    13. 98 Anders Hejlsberg: Genius behind the Turbo Pascal compiler, subsequently "Father of C#"
    14. 90 Tim O'Reilly: Publisher, open source advocate; believer that great technology needs great books
    15. 80 Dave Cutler: The brains behind VMS; hired away by Microsoft for Windows NT
    16= 70 Roy T. Fielding: Primary architect of HTTP 1.1 and a founder of the Apache Web server
    16= 70 Rob Pike: An early developer of Unix and windowing system (GUI) technology
    18. 66 Martin Fowler: Famous for work on refactoring, XP, and UML
    19. 64 Sergey Brin: Son-of-college-math-professor turned cofounder of Google, Inc.
    20. 62 Dan Bricklin: Cocreator of VisiCalc, the first PC spreadsheet

    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
    Duty Editor 12/15/04 08:31:40 AM EST

    von Neumann is on the newly expanded list that will be released for a second round of voting shortly. We thank the IT and CS communities for the many and various suggestions, and believe that the wider, deeper list will find favor with almost everyone, though one or two omissions will be inevitable even in any expanded selection (the new voting includes a field of over 110 contenders...including Jogn von Neumann.)

    PF 12/15/04 07:36:46 AM EST

    How could John von Neumann be left off this list (if Alan Turing is on it) ???

    Duty Editor 12/15/04 02:33:45 AM EST

    Joe thanks for the excellent feedback. Please take a look here to see how this exercise has now been widened and deepened thanks to reader input like yours. A second round of voting will shortly begin...on a field broadened to include 90% of the suggestions you make here, along with many, many more from among the hundreds of suggestions we received over the past few days.

    Joe 12/14/04 06:10:52 PM EST

    I think you missed a lot of the major influences on software:

    - Relational databases, how about adding Edgar F. Codd?
    - Development of high level programming languages: Dijkstra would be the right guy here...
    - Object oriented languages: Alan Kay for developing the root of modern OO languages, Smalltalk.
    - Modern operating systems: Professor Corbato did ground braking work on OS's that all modern OS's rely on.

    just to name some of the obvious ones, of course there are many more...

    I don't agree with all your choices

    - Martin Fowler takes a lot of wrong credit here: UML, was mainly created by Ivar Jacobson, Grady Booch, and James Rumbaugh. XP would be Kent Beck. Marting Fowler wrote a couple of books and articles about these topics...

    - Don't know if Linus belongs here. All he did was writing a Kernel to emulate a 30 year old operating system. Hardly innovative...

    - Guido van Rossum invented a scripting language. Althoug I like Python I don't think that it deserves to be in this list. Stuff like Relational databases were slightly more important...

    - Andy Tannenbaum and Minix? See my comments on Linus...

    - Brian Kernighan: AWK can be hardly called a programming languages. It's the "duct tape" of operating systems and should be banned...

    - What is Tim O'Reilly doing here? He gave us animal on computer book covers??

    Brendan Johnston 12/13/04 04:38:54 PM EST

    Relational databases are important so Codd should figure.
    GUI's are important, how about Alan Kay?
    Pattern's are much talked about, what about Ward Cunningham?

    Top 20 12/13/04 09:19:37 AM EST

    My vote goes to linus torvalds three times over.

    Founding fathers 12/13/04 05:05:09 AM EST

    You mean Vincent Cerf, "The Father of the Internet" himself - co-inventor with Robert Kahn of TCP. Yes, certainly one of the all-time Top Twenty. Not sure if this list requires you to be alive though. (Ah no, Turing's there so yes cerf needs to be added.)

    BroaderWiderDeeper 12/13/04 04:56:02 AM EST

    Interesting to see how many language authors are here - Python, C, C++, Java, etc...but the real "top software people" are surely those who produce the underlying concepts, rather than the language implementations

    TBL, yes. But what about those who gave us TCP and internetworking in the first place?