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
37. Thomas Penfield Jackson
Few people would have imagined that it a 62-year-old man unaffiliated with the company would have the most profound effect on Microsoft in years. But in 1999 U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson shook the tech world to its foundations when he handed down a landmark ruling declaring Microsoft to be an abusive monopoly and ordering it split into two companies. Though appellate courts eventually overturned many of Jackson's rulings, Microsoft has been on the defensive against antitrust actions here and abroad ever since, and all tech companies looking to merge have had to tread more cautiously in Jackson's wake.
38. Jerry Yang and David Filo
This unassuming twosome got their start in 1994 while still at Stanford, with a truly humble idea: Populate a directory with cool places that they had found on the then-infant World Wide Web. Yahoo was born on a lark but Jerry Yang (left) and David Filo helped it become one of the Web's top destinations: Today it is the home page for millions of people seeking the easiest entry point into the Internet. After an unfruitful turn with Hollywood insider Terry Semel at the helm, Yang retook the reins as CEO in June 2007. Yahoo is now coping with separate forays for control of the company by Microsoft and by Carl Icahn. (Full disclosure: The author writes a blog for Yahoo Tech.)
39. Peter Norton
A Buddhist monk before becoming invovled in the tech world, Peter Norton has been a major figure in the computer industry for three decades, having made his mark early in the DOS era with Norton Utilities, the first major data recovery tool for the PC. Norton went on to produce a gaggle of related utilities for the PC and write a series of essential technical manuals before selling his company to Symantec in 1990. Symantec still uses his name on its utility apps.
40. Phil Zimmermann
Phil Zimmermann fought the law so you don't have to. His Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) application, the first mainstream encryption software, published in 1991, made Zimmermann a pariah in the eyes of the U.S. government. The feds spent three years investigating the possibility that Zimmermann had violated rules forbidding the export of cryptographic tools. The case was ultimately dropped, however, paving the way for everyday people to protect the material on their hard drives and in their e-mail with the same encryption standards that the government itself uses.
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