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The 50 biggest heroes in technology history

Innovators, legends and geeks who shaped our world

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.

3. Bill Gates

The world's richest man (well, depending on that day's share price) is also one of its most noteworthy technologists - a guy who dropped out of Harvard to launch Microsoft, a company that all techies are intimately familiar with, like it or not.

No hands-off executive, Bill Gates has been involved with Microsoft product development at an incredibly detailed level over the company's entire 30-year history. Although he'll continue to serve as the company's chairman, Gates will in effect leave Microsoft this July to focus full-time on his non-profit endeavour, the Gates Foundation, which he has endowed with an eye-popping $29bn (£14.5bn) to support global health and learning.

Critics love to caricature Gates as a ruthless corporate tyrant who rules the tech industry with an iron fist, but evidently he has a conscience and a social vision too.

Visit PC Advisor's Microsoft spotlight for the latest Microsoft news and opinion

4. Steve Jobs

The once and future King of Apple, Steve Jobs is familiar to even the most casual technophile. Jobs lays claim to two critical moments in tech history. First, with the original Apples, he pioneered the idea that computers belong in the home; and then, 20 years later, he convinced the world that people ought to carry their (digital) music with them everywhere they go.

Apple may not have invented the PC, and it certainly didn't invent the MP3 player, but Jobs's famous ‘reality distortion field’ has proved that who got there first is sometimes less important than what they brought with them. Today, after more than one brush with corporate death, Apple is bigger than ever, boasting market share that the company hadn't seen since the 1980s.

Visit PC Advisor's Apple spotlight for the latest Apple news and opinion

5. Tim Berners-Lee

No bones about it: you wouldn't be reading this if not for Tim Berners-Lee and his 1989 invention, the world wide web. Everything from URL structure to hyperlinks were part of Berners-Lee's original specifications; and though they've been extensively revised (in large part under his guidance as director of the World Wide Web Consortium), they remain in use today. Berners-Lee continues to be a key figure in the development of web standards, and these days he spends his time developing what many think is the next step for the internet: the semantic web.

Visit Broadband Advisor for the latest news and reviews about the internet and internet tools.

NEXT PAGE: Why we've got Ray Tomlinson and Douglas Engelbart to thank for our tech lives today > >

  1. They persevered with technology to make our lives easier
  2. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Tim Berners-Lee's place in tech history
  3. Why we've got Ray Tomlinson and Douglas Engelbart to thank for our tech lives today
  4. The founders of AOL and Intel take their places in our top 50 tech bods
  5. Nolan Bushnell, Vint Cerf and Don Estridge
  6. Marc Andreessen, Linus Torvalds and Chuck Thacker take their place in tech history
  7. Why we've got Vic Hayes and Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston to thank for our life today
  8. Apple vice president Jonathan Ive and Amazon creator Jeff Bezos take their places in our top 50 tech heroes
  9. Al Shugart, Karlheinz Brandenburg and James D Johnston
  10. Thomas Penfield Jackson, Jerry Yang and David Filo take their place in tech history
  11. Why we've got Jon Postel and Alan Emtage with Bill Heelan and Mike Parker to thank for our tech lives today
  12. Susan Kare, Sir Arthur C Clarke and Herbie Hancock


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