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
584 56
Dennis Ritchie is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Dennis Ritchie Harvard University - C programming language creator

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2
237 38
Donald Knuth is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Donald Knuth California Institute of Technology, Case Institute of Technology - Father of the analysis of algorithms

3
369 71
Linus Torvalds is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Linus Torvalds University of Helsinki - Linus kernel creator

4
228 32
Ken Thompson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Ken Thompson University of California, Berkeley - UNIX co-creator

5
235 49
Bjarne Stroustrup is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Bjarne Stroustrup University of Cambridge, Churchill College, Cambridge - C++ creator

6
239 51
Tim Berners-Lee is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Tim Berners-Lee Emanuel School, The Queen's College, Oxford - HTML and world wide web inventor

7
181 39
Brian Kernighan is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Brian Kernighan University of Toronto, Princeton University - UNIX co-creator

8
162 47
James Gosling is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
James Gosling University of Calgary, Carnegie Mellon University - Java creator

9
148 55
Ada Lovelace is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Ada Lovelace University of London - World's first computer programmer

10
136 54
Guido van Rossum is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Guido van Rossum Universiteit van Amsterdam - Python creator

11
188 49
Richard Stallman is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Richard Stallman Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University - GNU Project creator

12
78 13
Edsger W. Dijkstra is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
JeffDarcy added Edsger W. Dijkstra Leiden University, Gymnasium Erasmianum

13
87 30
Niklaus Wirth is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Niklaus Wirth ETH Zurich, University of California, Berkeley - Pascal designer

14
138 72
Larry Page is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Larry Page Stanford University, University of Michigan, Montessori Radmoor - Google co-founder

15
90 26
Grace Hopper is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
J.l.Quelch added Grace Hopper Wardlaw-Hartridge School, Yale University, Vassar College - COBOL creator

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16
83 37
Larry Wall is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Larry Wall Seattle Pacific University, University of California, Berkeley - Perl creator

17
74 34
Brendan Eich is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Brendan Eich University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Santa Clara University - JavaScript creator

18
38 18
Phil Katz is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
evilgrin32 added Phil Katz Nicolet High School, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee - Creator of the ZIP archive format  

19
67 34
John D. Carmack is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
John D. Carmack Shawnee Mission East High School, University of Missouri–Kansas City - id Software co-founder

20
60 28
John Backus is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
John Backus The Hill School, Columbia University, University of Virginia - FORTRAN creator

21
35 17
Bill Joy is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
HaydenJoy added Bill Joy Stanford University, University of Michigan, University of California

22
46 19
Michael Widenius is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
arun added Michael Widenius Helsinki University of Technology - MySQL creator

23
88 40
Bram Cohen is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Bram Cohen Stuyvesant High School, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York - BitTorrent creator

24
99 70
Sergey Brin is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Sergey Brin University of Maryland, College Park, Stanford University - Google co-founder

25
46 25
Carl Sassenrath is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Carl Sassenrath University of California^! Davis - Introduced multitasking to personal computers

26
17 7
Martin Fowler is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
evilgrin32 added Martin Fowler University College London

27
45 26
Anders Hejlsberg is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Anders Hejlsberg Technical University of Denmark - Turbo Pascal author

28
41 21
Yukihiro Matsumoto is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
GeneMarcAngeloJr added Yukihiro Matsumoto University of Tsukuba - Yukihiro "Matz" Matsumoto is the creator of the Ruby language. 

29
85 51
Rasmus Lerdorf is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Rasmus Lerdorf University of Waterloo, King City Secondary School - PHP creator

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30
27 13
John McCarthy is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
JeffDarcy added John McCarthy California Institute of Technology, Princeton University

31
20 12
Michael Stonebraker is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
arun added Michael Stonebraker University of Michigan, Princeton University - PostgreSQL, ingres

32
16 15
Doug Cutting is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
arun added Doug Cutting Stanford University - Lucene, Nutch, Hadoop Creator

33
5 6
Konrad Zuse is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Konrad Zuse Technical University of Berlin, Collegium Hosianum

34
5 6
Tony Hoare is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
arun added Tony Hoare Merton College, Oxford, Moscow State University

35
15 18
Travis E. Oliphant is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
arun added Travis E. Oliphant NumPy creator

36
4 6
Kai Krause is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
evilgrin32 added Kai Krause

37
3 6
Robert Sedgewick is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Robert Sedgewick Stanford University

38
5 7
Faysel Kedir is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
fayacool18 added Faysel Kedir

39
15 20
Paul Graham is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
EdwardHill added Paul Graham Rhode Island School of Design, Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze, Cornell University

40
45 45
Matt Mullenweg is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Matt Mullenweg University of Houston - WordPress founder

41
19 27
Salvatore Sanfilippo is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
arun added Salvatore Sanfilippo Redis NoSQL Database

42
3 8
Tiancheng Lou is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
OmorJ.Kocharee added Tiancheng Lou Search on google

43
33 34
Alan Cooper is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Alan Cooper College of Marin - Visual Basic pioneer

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44
3 10
G. S. Bhalla is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
BhallaGS added G. S. Bhalla

45
28 42
Elon Musk is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
AtipatWattanuntachai added Elon Musk Queen's University, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania - Paypal creator  

46
3 9
Jenny Babon is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Jenny Francisco Babon added Jenny Babon

47
2 11
Ajas Moidu is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
iamajas8482 added Ajas Moidu

48
2 9
Ahmad M. Othman is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
AmadoMahmoud added Ahmad M. Othman

49
1 7
Jenny F. Babon is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Jenny Francisco Babon added Jenny F. Babon

50
3 11
Rakesh Reddy is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
RakeshReddy added Rakesh Reddy