Total Nerd The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time  

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The most influential software programmers of all time are the innovative and brilliant men and women who each contributed something ground-breaking to the software programming world. These are the pioneers of programming all having created, evolved or improved upon the foundations of modern computer programming. Plain and simple, without these software programming legends, computers, the Internet and many of your favorite programs would never exist.

Selecting which software programmer is the absolute most influential is often a chicken and egg conundrum. Without the early programming languages like FORTRAN, created by John Backus, or the C programming language, created by Dennis Ritchie, newer languages would never exist. But newer programmers, such as Tim Berners-Lee, who created HTML, James Gosling, who created Java, or Rasmus Lerdorf, who created PHP, improved upon those early innovations to create bigger and better things.

Others might argue that it's not the programming language authors that should be considered the most influential but those who used programming to make computer science accessible to the average person. Microsoft, co-founded by the famous Bill Gates, changed the world, as did Google, created by the team of Larry Page and Sergey Brin. But is their influence on the tech world more important than that of the software language creators? Are they among the greatest programmers of all time?

Who are the most famous computer programmers? In the end, software programming and the Internet was not created overnight and certainly not by one person or company. It's a combination of each software programmer's innovations that has brought us to where we are today. The great thing about programming is that it's always evolving and improving. Who knows, maybe the most influential software programmer ever hasn't even discovered his or her big thing yet. Until then, vote on which notable software programmer you think is the most influential of all time.

Check out more lists like the top game programmers, the best hackers of all time, and the most influential tech bloggers
list ordered by

1
691 76
Dennis Ritchie is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Harvard University - C programming language creator

2
297 54
Donald Knuth is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
California Institute of Technology, Case Institute of Technology - Father of the analysis of algorithms

3
426 91
Linus Torvalds is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
University of Helsinki - Linus kernel creator

4
278 45
Ken Thompson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
University of California, Berkeley - UNIX co-creator

5
275 61
Bjarne Stroustrup is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
University of Cambridge, Churchill College, Cambridge - C++ creator

6
282 65
Tim Berners-Lee is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Emanuel School, The Queen's College, Oxford - HTML and world wide web inventor

7
213 49
Brian Kernighan is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
University of Toronto, Princeton University - UNIX co-creator

8
196 70
Ada Lovelace is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
University of London - World's first computer programmer

9
175 68
Guido van Rossum is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Universiteit van Amsterdam - Python creator

10
190 62
James Gosling is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
University of Calgary, Carnegie Mellon University - Java creator

11
222 57
Richard Stallman is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University - GNU Project creator

12
117 31
Grace Hopper is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
J.l.Quelch added Wardlaw-Hartridge School, Yale University, Vassar College -

COBOL creator

13
108 37
Niklaus Wirth is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
ETH Zurich, University of California, Berkeley - Pascal designer

14
97 20
Edsger W. Dijkstra is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
JeffDarcy added Leiden University, Gymnasium Erasmianum

15
168 85
Larry Page is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Stanford University, University of Michigan, Montessori Radmoor - Google co-founder

16
99 43
Larry Wall is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Seattle Pacific University, University of California, Berkeley - Perl creator

17
94 42
Brendan Eich is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Santa Clara University - JavaScript creator

18
80 34
John Backus is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
The Hill School, Columbia University, University of Virginia - FORTRAN creator

19
57 23
Phil Katz is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
evilgrin32 added Nicolet High School, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee - Creator of the ZIP archive format
 

20
101 44
Bram Cohen is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Stuyvesant High School, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York - BitTorrent creator

21
81 40
John D. Carmack is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Shawnee Mission East High School, University of Missouri–Kansas City - id Software co-founder

22
58 24
Michael Widenius is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
arun added Helsinki University of Technology - MySQL creator

23
48 23
Bill Joy is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
HaydenJoy added Stanford University, University of Michigan, University of California

24
120 79
Sergey Brin is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
University of Maryland, College Park, Stanford University - Google co-founder

25
59 30
Anders Hejlsberg is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Technical University of Denmark - Turbo Pascal author