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
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.
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.
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.
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