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.
1 692 76 Dennis Ritchie Harvard University C programming language creator
2 297 54 Donald Knuth California Institute of Technology, Case Institute of Technology Father of the analysis of algorithms
3 426 91 Linus Torvalds University of Helsinki Linus kernel creator
4 279 45 Ken Thompson University of California, Berkeley UNIX co-creator
5 275 61 Bjarne Stroustrup University of Cambridge, Churchill College, Cambridge C++ creator
6 282 65 Tim Berners-Lee Emanuel School, The Queen's College, Oxford HTML and world wide web inventor
7 213 49 Brian Kernighan University of Toronto, Princeton University UNIX co-creator
8 196 70 Ada Lovelace University of London World's first computer programmer
9 175 68 Guido van Rossum Universiteit van Amsterdam Python creator
10 190 62 James Gosling University of Calgary, Carnegie Mellon University Java creator
11 222 57 Richard Stallman Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University GNU Project creator
12 117 31 J.l.Quelch added Grace Hopper Wardlaw-Hartridge School, Yale University, Vassar College