10 Famous Computer Scientists Who Impacted the Industry

illustration of famous male and female computer scientists

If you’re interested in computer science and want to learn more about the industry, it’s always wise to start by studying its founding fathers (and mothers!) There is so much to learn from those who have gone before us, and sometimes it’s just fun to reflect on how technology has evolved.

But most importantly, as an aspiring computer scientist, you want to know about the famous computer scientists who have paved the way for you. Keep reading as we introduce you to some of the most notable men and women of the past and present.

10 famous computer scientists you should know about

Scientists are often thought of as those who study nature or chemistry and make discoveries in medicine. But we can’t over-look the scientists who chose to study a much different specimen: the computer. Read up on some famous computer scientists who have used their knowledge, expertise and inventive spirits to impact our world forever.

1. Barbara Liskov

Liskov helped develop and implement programming languages like CLU, the first programming language to support data abstraction. CLU has become like a guidebook for other programming languages, such as Java, which borrow from its syntax and semantics. She also helped develop Argus, a high-level language designed to support the construction and maintenance of distributed programs.

2. Elon Musk

Referred to as the real Iron Man, Elon Musk is probably best known as the famous CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX. However, he got his start with computers. At the age of 12 he began teaching himself to program which later paved the way for the launch of his first company, Zip2. But he didn’t stop there. He went on to become a co-founder of a company that later became PayPal, which allowed him to strike conversations with the brain-children behind Tesla Motors.

3. Larry Page

Can you go a week without Googling something? How about a day? We have Larry Page and co-founder Sergey Brin to thank for the trusty search engine. While at Stanford, Page started Google as a research project, and Brin joined in. The two soon discovered that their project could be used to build a search engine the likes of which no one had ever seen.

4. Carl Sassenrath

What if your laptop could only perform one function at a time? You’d have to choose between typing a document and reading an article or browsing Facebook and checking your email. Everything would take ten, maybe even twenty times as long to complete if it weren’t for Carl Sassenrath’s Amiga Computer, the first multimedia personal computer of its time. Sassenrath is also the developer of REBOL, a specialized computer language technology.

5. Guido Van Rassum

If you’re interested in computers science, then you’ve probably heard of Python, the most popular coding language of 2015 according to codeeval. Python is known for its versatility and is used by countless programmers and companies including Spotify and Dropbox.

6. Mark Zuckerburg

One of the most recognized names on the list, Zuckerburg is the founder of the most widely-used social networking tool of our era. It’s hard to imagine life without it. But everyone has to start somewhere, and Zuckerburg started Facebook in his Harvard dorm room as an exclusive site for Harvard students. Today the platform has become a place for friends and family to connect and business to build brand identity and engage with customers.

7. Brendan Eich

Whether you know what it is or not, you’ve probably heard of Java Script or even seen the language at work several times in your life. Brendan Eich developed the programming language or script, which is most widely used in HTML or browsing pages.

8. Tim Berners-Lee

What would the world be like today without “www.”? Berners-Lee is the inventor of the World Wide Web. He laid out his vision for the internet-based sharing tool in 1989 while working at CERN and by 1991 others outside of CERN were invited to join the web. Tim not only invented the “www” that the internet still thrives on, but he fought to make sure the web stayed free and became accessible for anyone.

9. Hedy Lamarr

Some may know her name or even recognize her face from old films like Samson and Delilah and White Cargo. But Lamarr was more than just a pretty face. Co-inventor of the technology behind spread spectrum and frequency hopping, Lamarr didn’t realize she was helping to pave the way for technologies of the future like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

10. Bill Gates

One of the biggest names in computer science and culture as we know it, Bill Gates started his empire writing software for the Altair computer with childhood-friend Paul Allen. Soon after, the friends started Microsoft and by age 23, Gates’ company had grossed $2.5 million. Today, the company that founded Microsoft Windows and Office Suite is still a household name, and though Gates has stepped down as CEO, his company, foundation and philanthropy live on.

Follow in their footsteps

It’s amazing to think of what these computer scientists and entrepreneurs have done (and continue to do) for our world. But if you believe that computer scientists are done making their mark on the world, think again!

The field is still in its infant stages, which means you can join in and start making an impact. Learn why there’s no better time than now to pursue a career in computer science!

Megan Ruesink

Megan is a freelance writer for Collegis education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. She hopes to engage and intrigue current and potential students.


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