Every gadget and technology that affects your every day life has taken years if not a lifetime of hard work in research, design and development. We've charted the top 50 people responsible for implementing today's best technologies.
Innovators, legends and geeks who shaped our world
In fact most of the technology we couldn't live without has been the product of visionaries who have spent years or even their whole lives researching and developing their ideas, which in many cases were initially written off as ludicrous.
We've rounded up the most critical players in recent tech history - everyone from the guy who invented a way to store data in a portable form to the woman who coined the term 'bug' after a moth flew into a computer relay - and detailed their efforts which are no doubt making your life easier now.
1. Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce
Unlike most of the other multiperson entries on our list, Robert Noyce and Jack Kilby didn't work together. But their common invention is still utterly crucial. In 1959, both men came up with the first integrated circuits, Kilby while he was at Texas Instruments, and Noyce at Fairchild Semiconductor.
The IC solved the problem of size that got worse and worse as the need to jam additional transistors into a device grew more and more critical. Packing them all into a single chip in effect ended the era of the room-size computer. Ultimately, Noyce's design based on silicon, rather than Kilby's based on germanium, became the standard and the one that we still use today, but both designs were instrumental in pushing the technology forward. Kilby and Noyce are often overlooked, but the importance of their contribution to technology cannot be overstated. Nothing else on this list could exist without the underpinning of the integrated circuit.
2. Sergey Brin and Larry Page
What is the defining contribution to technology made by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the fathers of Google? The company is the single most important business in Silicon Valley today, but of course search engines had existed long before Google came along.
What impressed so many early fans was Google's relentless pursuit of refinement and accuracy in its search algorithm: whereas other search engines' results tended to be laden with spam, Google's were generally on target. The company had lots of other tricks up its sleeve as well: the rapidly expanding Google universe now offers dozens of productivity and entertainment tools, from word processing to video, most of them free, underwritten by the company's ubiquitous ad-serving system.
NEXT PAGE: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Tim Berners-Lee’s place in tech history
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