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
572 53
Dennis Ritchie is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Dennis Ritchie Died at 70 (1941-2011) - C programming language creator

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2
363 68
Linus Torvalds is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Linus Torvalds age 47 - Linus kernel creator

3
225 29
Ken Thompson is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Ken Thompson age 74 - UNIX co-creator

4
235 36
Donald Knuth is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Donald Knuth age 79 - Father of the analysis of algorithms

5
232 47
Bjarne Stroustrup is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Bjarne Stroustrup age 66 - C++ creator

6
234 49
Tim Berners-Lee is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Tim Berners-Lee age 61 - HTML and world wide web inventor

7
180 36
Brian Kernighan is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Brian Kernighan age 75 - UNIX co-creator

8
159 44
James Gosling is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
James Gosling age 61 - Java creator

9
184 46
Richard Stallman is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Richard Stallman age 64 - GNU Project creator

10
77 10
Edsger W. Dijkstra is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
JeffDarcy added Edsger W. Dijkstra Died at 72 (1930-2002)

11
147 51
Ada Lovelace is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Ada Lovelace Died at 37 (1815-1852) - World's first computer programmer

12
133 52
Guido van Rossum is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Guido van Rossum age 59 - Python creator

13
89 23
Grace Hopper is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
J.l.Quelch added Grace Hopper Died at 86 (1906-1992) - COBOL creator

14
85 28
Niklaus Wirth is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Niklaus Wirth age 83 - Pascal designer

15
135 69
Larry Page is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Larry Page age 44 - Google co-founder

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16
80 35
Larry Wall is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Larry Wall age 62 - Perl creator

17
72 32
Brendan Eich is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Brendan Eich age 54 - JavaScript creator

18
66 31
John D. Carmack is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
John D. Carmack age 46 - id Software co-founder

19
58 25
John Backus is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
John Backus Died at 83 (1924-2007) - FORTRAN creator

20
87 38
Bram Cohen is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Bram Cohen age 40 - BitTorrent creator

21
45 16
Michael Widenius is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
arun added Michael Widenius age 55 - MySQL creator

22
34 14
Bill Joy is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
HaydenJoy added Bill Joy age 62

23
36 16
Phil Katz is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
evilgrin32 added Phil Katz Died at 38 (1962-2000) - Creator of the ZIP archive format  

24
98 67
Sergey Brin is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Sergey Brin age 43 - Google co-founder

25
44 23
Carl Sassenrath is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Carl Sassenrath age 58 - Introduced multitasking to personal computers

26
39 19
Yukihiro Matsumoto is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
GeneMarcAngeloJr added Yukihiro Matsumoto age 50 - Yukihiro "Matz" Matsumoto is the creator of the Ruby language. 

27
84 48
Rasmus Lerdorf is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Rasmus Lerdorf age 48 - PHP creator

28
43 24
Anders Hejlsberg is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Anders Hejlsberg age 56 - Turbo Pascal author

29
26 10
John McCarthy is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
JeffDarcy added John McCarthy Died at 84 (1927-2011)

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30
16 4
Martin Fowler is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
evilgrin32 added Martin Fowler age 54

31
19 9
Michael Stonebraker is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
arun added Michael Stonebraker age 73 - PostgreSQL, ingres

32
15 11
Doug Cutting is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
arun added Doug Cutting Lucene, Nutch, Hadoop Creator

33
5 2
Konrad Zuse is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Konrad Zuse Died at 85 (1910-1995)

34
5 3
Tony Hoare is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
arun added Tony Hoare age 83

35
15 15
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 3
Kai Krause is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
evilgrin32 added Kai Krause age 58

37
5 4
Faysel Kedir is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
fayacool18 added Faysel Kedir

38
3 3
Robert Sedgewick is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time

39
15 17
Paul Graham is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
EdwardHill added Paul Graham age 50

40
4 5
Lifas Pk is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
lifaspk added Lifas Pk

41
45 42
Matt Mullenweg is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Matt Mullenweg age 33 - WordPress founder

42
3 5
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
1 3
Jon Skeet is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
deniz-i̇rgin added Jon Skeet

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44
33 31
Alan Cooper is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Alan Cooper age 63 - Visual Basic pioneer

45
0 3
Joshua Bloch is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Joshua Bloch age 54

46
3 7
G. S. Bhalla is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
BhallaGS added G. S. Bhalla

47
18 25
Salvatore Sanfilippo is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
arun added Salvatore Sanfilippo Redis NoSQL Database

48
2 7
Ajas Moidu is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
iamajas8482 added Ajas Moidu

49
27 40
Elon Musk is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
AtipatWattanuntachai added Elon Musk age 45 - Paypal creator  

50
0 1
John Cena is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
1512490043998 added John Cena age 39 - POOP