Science Fiction had it that the high-tech future would be dominated by faceless corporations - if not actual evil robots. The truth is rather more humane, especially in the latter part of the decade where the Web 2.0 crowd started taking over.

Here we look at the personalities that shaped the products, companies and technology battles of the decade. We've  out the individuals (and on occasion, partners) who have made the biggest impact between 2000 and 2009.

Winner: Steve Jobs

PC Advisor's Person Of The Decade wasn't one of the young guns bursting out of start-ups like Google, Twitter or Facebook. His company started up in the mid-1970s but it's still determining the direction that the industry and much of the rest of us are taking today.

That company is Apple, and he is one of its founders and arguably the most charismatic leader the tech industry has had or ever will have - Steve Jobs.

Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, having sold his company NeXT to Apple as the foundation for its efforts to create a next-generation operating system for the ailing computer manufacturer.

That foundation became Mac OS X, released in 2000 and the template for all leading OSs since - right up to Microsoft's recent Windows 7.

In January 2001 Apple released its iTunes music software that has revolutionised not just the music industry but also the worlds of movies, telecoms and software distribution. Later that year the iPod - PC Advisor's Product Of The Decade - began the slow death of the CD. It would later gain voice capabilities and become the world's most desired and popular smartphone, the iPhone.

"Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything. It's very fortunate if you can work on just one of these in your career. ... Apple's been very fortunate in that it's introduced a few of these," boasted Jobs in 2007.

In the 1980s he kick-started the popularity of the personal computer by putting a human face on it in the Mac graphical user interface. In the 1990s his animation company Pixar took CGI to the masses with flicks such as Toy Story. And in the 2000s Steve's vision and marketing genius brought us Mac OS X, the iPod, iPhone and iTunes.



Steve Ballmer

Shy, retiring type Steve Ballmer joined Microsoft in 1980 but took the top job at the turn of the century when he was named CEO, replacing Bill Gates who took on a new title of chief software architect.

Under Ballmer's leadership, Microsoft continued to control the desktop and server operating system markets and successfully came through a number of legal battles that at one point threatened to break up the company.

As the decade draws to a close, Microsoft is facing its toughest challenges yet, with the likes of Google and Apple threatening to knock the Redmond giant off its perch. Ballmer's verbal attacks on Microsoft's rivals were always worth listening to, but it was his on-stage antics for which he'll be most remembered.

Whether expressing his enthusiasm for developers ("developers, developers, developers, developers") or his frankly scary stage entrance culminating with his "I love this company", Ballmer's keynotes will remain popular on YouTube for years to come.



Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone

By 2000, Twitter-creator Jack Dorsey had already made a name for himself as the creator of dispatch routing software which his company sold to taxis and the emergency services.

But it was six years later that he came up with the original idea for a new twist on instant messaging that would allow users to use a text messaging service to communicate with groups, rather than individuals.

When cofounder Biz Stone saw the application that Jack Dorsey created he was reminded of the way birds communicate: "Short bursts of information... Everyone is chirping, having a good time."

In response, Stone came up with ‘twttr', and the partners eventually added some vowels. It's hard to think of a more evocative name in the tech world than twitter, but what began as what Stone described as "trivial" bursts of communication developed into a powerful means of networking and breaking news.

Twitter was named the word of the year for 2009 by the Global Language Monitor in its annual global survey of English words and phrases that appear in the media and online.

Dorsey and Stone were even suggested as possible candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize for the role Twitter played during 2009's civil unrest in Iran, according to a former US national security adviser. Mark Pfeifle, a former aide for George W Bush, suggested that Twitter and its founders be considered for the prize, which is awarded to those who push for "fraternity between nations" and for "holding the promotion of peace", according to reports earlier this year.

See all nominations for the PC Advisor Awards 2010

Here we look at the personalities that shaped the products, companies and technology battles of the decade. We've picked out the individuals (and on occasion, partners) who have made the biggest impact between 2000 and 2009.

Bill Gates

Few people have been so resented, slandered or envied as Bill Gates, but all have to agree, Gates has been spectacularly successful.

Gates ended his full-time employment at Microsoft in 2008, 33 years after founding the company and eight years after relinquishing the CEO title.

But he remained the face of Microsoft throughout the Noughties, providing the keynote speeches at top technology conferences such as CES as well as Microsoft's own developer events.

While building a reputation as a ruthless businessman, Gates was never shy of poking fun at his geeky image. The Bill Gates: the last day at Microsoft video that premiered during his CES 2008 keynote being a cringeworthy case in point: "Big pimping I'm Bill G, big pimping yeah you know me".

Since leaving his daily duties at Microsoft, Gates and wife Melinda have focused on running their foundation. The organisation funds assorted programmes, ranging from improving global health care and fighting disease to combating homelessness.



Jonathan Ive

Jonathan Ive CBE is Apple's senior vice president of industrial design. Although most famous for his radical 1998 iMac design Ive has been busy changing the face of technology and the way we work and communicate throughout this past decade.

Most influential have been his designs for the Apple iPod and Apple iPhone - two products that have redefined not just their categories but the industries behind them, and creating/developing new software spinoffs such as the iTunes Music Store and iPhone App Store.

Ive was the winner of the Design Museum's inaugural Designer of the Year award in 2002, and won again in 2003. In 2006 he was honoured in the 2006 New Years Honours list, receiving a CBE for services to the design industry, and in 2008 The Daily Telegraph rated him the most influential Briton in America - not bad for a former toilet designer from Chingford, Essex.



Nicholas Negroponte

Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Nicholas Negroponte is perhaps best known in technology circles as the first investor in Wired, the US tech magazine for which he also penned a monthly column for five years in the 90s.

But his announcement in November 2005 of an ambitious project to provide a laptop for every child in the developing world put Negroponte's name on the global stage.

Negroponte promised that the One Laptop Per Child foundation would provide emerging economies with millions of machines, each costing less than $100 and including new technologies that had never before been tested in commercial products.

Pictures of early prototypes running on power generated by a hand crank captivated the imagination of technology enthusiasts, while promises that Mesh networking would provide widespread internet connectivity in regions without even basic telephone networks impressed government officials.

Last February, Negroponte said OLPC had shipped 1 million XO laptops over the past 12 months in 31 countries, but the One Laptop Per Child vision remains unfulfilled, partly due to the group's inability to hit the original $100-per-unit price promise.

Nonetheless, the production of low-cost, no-frills laptops whetted the appetite for cheap and cheerful, ultraportable laptops and it wasn't long before mainstream manufacturers started paying attention. Asus launched the original 7in Eee PC at Computex in June 2007; two years later every mainstream laptop maker has a contender in the fast-growing ‘netbook' market.

Netbooks have been credited with propping up PC sales over the past two years and remain one of the top technology purchases this Christmas.

See all nominations for the PC Advisor Awards 2010

Here we look at the personalities that shaped the products, companies and technology battles of the decade. We've picked out the individuals (and on occasion, partners) who have made the biggest impact between 2000 and 2009.

Larry Page & Sergey Brin

When your stock price can top $500 a share, you're collectively worth tens of billions in cash, and you run the most trafficked search engine on the internet, you can afford to do, well, pretty much whatever you want.

Sergey Brin and Larry Page's little project from Stanford has grown into the web's most talked-about powerhouse, and one of the few names on this list to have morphed into a verb.

Starting the decade as a fast-growing search engine funded by the investment community, Google ends it having conquered the online advertising world with annual revenues topping $20bn.

The company is expanding into several areas, and now is a maker of operating systems, web browsers, office applications and video-sharing services.



Jimmy Wales

Many web users treat Jimmy Wales' internet encyclopaedia Wikipedia as their first and last stop in researching a topic; and its user generated content has become so reliable that Nature magazine controversially declared it "close to [Encyclopaedia] Britannica" in accuracy.

But its popularity has also made Wikipedia a target for spammers - so much so that Wikipedia temporarily blocked the entire country of Qatar from making edits. To thwart spammers, Wales decided to slap ‘nofollow' tags on external links, telling search engines to ignore the links in order to avoid artificially inflating the search engine ranking of the link targets. This strategy ensures that Wikipedia's prominence in search results will continue to grow.

But Wikipedia may just be the beginning for Wales. He was a fierce proponent of Wikia Search, the ill-fated open-source search engine which Wales hoped would challenge Google. Wikia Search closed earlier this year, but Wales has promised to re-visit the technology.

"It's something I care about deeply. I will return ... again and again in my career to search, either as an investor, a contributor, a donor or a cheerleader," he said.



Niklas Zennstrom & Janus Friis

It seems like Niklas Zennstrom and business partner Janus Friis just can't stop themselves. First they built the popular peer-to-peer file-sharing network KaZaA; then they followed up by building the amazingly popular VoIP software Skype. After selling Skype to eBay for $2.6 billion, the duo went back to the drawing board to produce Joost, a P2P video distribution service. Will Zennstrom and Friis pull off a trifecta of killer apps?

It looks unlikely, Joost has been outdone by rivals like Hulu and YouTube, and appears to be in the throes of winding down, only two-and-a-half years after its rollout. Which begs the questions, what do Zennstrom and Friis have in store for us next?



Mark Zuckerberg

25-year-old Mark Zuckerberg was still at school at the turn of the century, and it was an invention at Harvard University in 2004 for which he made his name.

His idea for an internet-based student directory was originally restricted to Harvard attendees before spreading to other educational establishments and, eventually, anyone on the internet.

Spotting the potential for third-party applications, Zuckerberg launched of the Facebook Platform in May 2007 and nearly a million developers are now believed to be producing apps for the site.

A Microsoft investment later that year valued the company at $15bn and underlined Facebook's position as the world's predominant social networking site. Web metrics firm Hitwise said Facebook accounted for 15 percent of all UK internet page views in September, when it was the second most visited site by UK users, the first being search engine Google. Hitwise also said that Facebook received more page views than Google, eBay and YouTube combined.

See all nominations for the PC Advisor Awards 2010