10 Unknown Tech Heroes That You Would Not Have Been Without


You know the names Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and other celebrities in the IT industry. None of these IT-celebrities would be making a name if it were not for a bunch of rather unknown tech heroes who made the really big discoveries.

Swedish PC World has compiled a list of the ten largest technology heroes in the IT industry. How many have you heard of before?

  1. Marty Cooper
    As an employee at Motorola, Marty Cooper in 1973 filed a patent application for a radio telephone system. He was also the first person who ever made a telephone call to a mobile phone. Cooper said that he got the inspiration for the invention from Star Trek… how cool is that!
  2. Mike Lazaridis
    Mike Lazaridis moved to Canada from Turkey when he was five years old. When he was 12 years old, he won a prize for having read all the books in science in their local library. In 1984 he jumped to his studies and started the company “Research in Motion” (RIM), which later developed the mobile phone Blackberry.
  3. Tony Fadell
    Fadell had an idea and tried to sell it in different places, eventually he became employed at Apple. In 2001 Apple launched its first iPod, which quickly became a success worldwide. Fadells name is mentioned often when Apple prefers to keep the spotlight on another person within the company. Fadell was promoted to Senior Vice President of Apple’s iPod division in 2006 but stepped down in 2008 to work as an adviser for Steve Jobs.
  4. John Backus
    Backus who was formerly employed at IBM, developed the programming language “Fortran” during the 50’s. It is considered the world’s first major computer programming language. Backus died in 2007, 82 years old.
  5. Jack Nilles
    Jack Nilles was the first person who coined the term telecommuting in the early 70’s. He formed the consulting firm Jala International in the 1980s and advocated for how people could use computers to “work at a distance”, telecommuting.
  6. Doug Engelbart
    Engelbart is known as the father of the computer mouse. He applied for a patent for computer mouse already in 1970. His patent expired in 1987 and he never received any royalties or compensation for his invention. Engelbart was also one of the first Internet users when he tested the predecessor ARPANET in 1969.
  7. Gary Thuerk
    Gary Thuerk is probably not a hero as such, but he is nevertheless the grandfather of SPAM. As early as 1978 when he worked at Digital Equipment he sent out a promotional message on the Internet’s predecessor, ARPANET. He almost ended up in prison. Today, 80-90 percent of all e-mail on the Internet is spam. Bad boy, Gary, bad boy!
  8. John Cioffi
    John Cioffi decided to come up with a technology for fast data transfers over copper wires or networks. In 1991 he started the company Amati Communications and created the DSL technology, which later made broadband available to the masses.
  9. James Gosling
    James Gosling from Canada was “born to code”. When he worked at Sun in 1991 he invented the programming language Java. He’s also behind the first version of Unix that could take advantage of multiple processors.
  10. Vic Hayes
    Dutchman Vic Hayes is best known for being the leading person in the development of IEEE 802.11, also known as wireless network/Wi-Fi. Today he is a researcher at the Delft University in Holland.

2 thoughts on “10 Unknown Tech Heroes That You Would Not Have Been Without”

  1. Twitter should support postbacks…

    “unknown”, indeed to most, I would have liked to have seen Alan Kay, Don Knuth and Peter Naur (you did get Backus) on the list.

    Alan Kay is my alltime favourite Turing Award winner, he’s the ghost is most of our machinery IMHO, and we’re still guilty of this:

    Most software today is very much like an Egyptian pyramid with millions of bricks piled on top of each other, with no structural integrity, but just done by brute force and thousands of slaves

  2. I too would like to see Alan Kay on the list, as well as Ted Nelson.
    We just finished a book “The Engelbart Hypothesis: dialogs with Doug” that, in plain language, explains the philosophical framework Engelbart developed that led to so many innovations.


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