Without heroes such as Tim Berners-Lee, Vint Cerf and Bob Metcalfe we might not able to connect to and surf the web.

However, for every well-known 'father' of technology, there are plenty of unsung heroes that have played just as an important role in our lives but yet remain relatively unknown.

That's about to change as we've rounded up the 10 most important unknown heroes of technology.

Marty Cooper

Cooper filed a patent for the 'radio telephone system' in 1973, while working at Motorola, and was the first person to make a call on a portable mobile phone. (He called a rival engineer at Bell Labs.)

Cooper has stated that his inspiration came from watching Star Trek's Captain Kirk talk on his communicator device. Today, Cooper is the CEO and founder of ArrayComm.

Mike Lazaridis

Born in Turkey to Greek parents, Lazaridis was five years old when his family moved to Canada. At age 12, he won a prize for reading every science book in his public library.

He dropped out of college to start Research in Motion in 1984 and subsequently developed the BlackBerry. In 2000, he put up $100m to start an institute devoted to the study of theoretical physics.

NEXT PAGE: Tony Fadell and John Backus

  1. You may not be aware of these 'fathers of industry'
  2. Tony Fadell and John Backus
  3. The father of telecommuting and the inventor of the mouse
  4. Gary Thuerk and John Cioffi
  5. The heroes of Unix and wireless standards


When it comes to technology there's plenty of unsung heroes out there. We've rounded up the ten that made the most impact on our lives.

Tony Fadell

Fadell had an idea, pitched it around, was hired by Apple and the rest is history. He started as an outside consultant, became the first member of Apple's iPod hardware engineering team in 2001, and is now senior vice president of the iPod Division.

So, why haven't you ever heard of Tony Fadell? Apparently the Apple PR machine wants to keep the spotlight on a certain you-know-who.

John Backus

The former IBM computer scientist developed FORTRAN (Formula Translator) in the 50s. FORTRAN is considered the world's first widely used computer programming language.

Backus died last year at age 82. As a young man, he was diagnosed with a brain tumour, which was removed and a plate was installed in his head. Later, a second plate was put in, one that Backus designed himself.

NEXT PAGE: The father of telecommuting and the inventor of the mouse

  1. You may not be aware of these 'fathers of industry'
  2. Tony Fadell and John Backus
  3. The father of telecommuting and the inventor of the mouse
  4. Gary Thuerk and John Cioffi
  5. The heroes of Unix and wireless standards


When it comes to technology there's plenty of unsung heroes out there. We've rounded up the ten that made the most impact on our lives.

Jack Nilles

Nilles coined the term 'telecommunting' in the early 70s while working at the University of Southern California. He founded the management consulting firm, JALA International, in 1980 and left USC in 1989 to devote full time to JALA.

Telecommuting isn't rocket science, but Nilles is, in fact, a rocket scientist who designed space vehicles for the US Air Force and NASA.

Doug Engelbart

Engelbart is an early internet pioneer. In 1969, ARPANET's first transmission was between nodes at Leonard Kleinrock's lab at UCLA and Engelbart's lab at Stanford. A philosopher, scientist and inventor, he'll always be known as the father of the mouse, which he patented in 1970.

He never received any royalties, however. His patent expired in 1987, before the personal computer revolution. Today, at 83, he heads the Bootstrap Institute.

NEXT PAGE: Gary Thuerk and John Cioffi

  1. You may not be aware of these 'fathers of industry'
  2. Tony Fadell and John Backus
  3. The father of telecommuting and the inventor of the mouse
  4. Gary Thuerk and John Cioffi
  5. The heroes of Unix and wireless standards


When it comes to technology there's plenty of unsung heroes out there. We've rounded up the ten that made the most impact on our lives.

Gary Thuerk

In 1978, an overly aggressive sales rep from Digital Equipment Corp sent out a pitch to several hundred names on an early ARPANET mailing list. Not only did Gary Thuerk get flamed, the feds running ARPANET threatened to throw him in jail.

How times have changed. Today, 80 to 90 percent of all email is spam and nobody seems to know where it's coming from or how to stop it.

As for Thuerk, he's at HP, still selling computer gear. Is Thuerk embarrassed about unleashing the scourge of spam on the world? Not really. "I'm the first one to do it, and I'm proud of it," he says.

John Cioffi

Not one to blow his own horn, Cioffi shies away from publicity. But, by all accounts, the Stanford professor was intent on coming up with a way to deploy broadband over copper wires and developed asymmetrical digital subscriber line (DSL) technology.

He left Stanford in 1991 to found Amati Communications. He has since returned to Stanford, where his research focuses on Dynamic Spectrum Management (DSM).

NEXT PAGE: The heroes of Unix and wireless standards

  1. You may not be aware of these 'fathers of industry'
  2. Tony Fadell and John Backus
  3. The father of telecommuting and the inventor of the mouse
  4. Gary Thuerk and John Cioffi
  5. The heroes of Unix and wireless standards


When it comes to technology there's plenty of unsung heroes out there. We've rounded up the ten that made the most impact on our lives.

James Gosling

Canada-born Gosling was born to code. While working on a PhD in Computer Science from Carnegie-Mellon, he wrote a multiprocessor version of Unix. At Sun, he is credited with inventing the Java programming language in 1991.

In a blog posting in 2006, he noted that neither his wife nor his kids had ever seen him without a beard, which he had to shave off prior to having surgery for sleep apnea.

Vic Hayes

Hayes is a Dutch-born electrical engineer who worked at NCR Corp. and later Agere. He's known less for technological wizardry than for his diplomatic skills.

As chairman of the IEEE 802.11 working group for wireless LANs, he was instrumental in developing the standards that led to the success of 802.11 wireless LANs.

Today, he is Senior Research Fellow at Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands.

  1. You may not be aware of these 'fathers of industry'
  2. Tony Fadell and John Backus
  3. The father of telecommuting and the inventor of the mouse
  4. Gary Thuerk and John Cioffi
  5. The heroes of Unix and wireless standards