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
682 74
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
293 52
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
421 90
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
272 44
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
271 59
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
277 64
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
209 48
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
191 67
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
173 66
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
187 61
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
217 56
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
114 30
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
106 36
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
94 19
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
166 83
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
97 42
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
92 41
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
55 22
Phil Katz is listed (or ranked) 18 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
 

19
77 33
John Backus is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
The Hill School, Columbia University, University of Virginia - FORTRAN creator

20
99 43
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
79 39
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
56 23
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
46 22
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
118 77
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
12 0
S.m Kaif is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Dwayne Blackman added S.m Kaif Garden Public School -

Shaikh Muhammad Kaif(born 27-12-2003) is an Indian programmer computer scientist, White hat Hacker and internet entrepreneur and he is the founder of Talkit Messenger ,Sm Kaif is a student of class 9th but he is good programmer but circumstances of his house are not good so he is not rich, He is ranked 1st in ranker[

26
57 29
Anders Hejlsberg is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Technical University of Denmark - Turbo Pascal author

27
55 27
Carl Sassenrath is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
University of California, Davis - Introduced multitasking to personal computers

28
29 10
Martin Fowler is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
evilgrin32 added University College London

29
97 54
Rasmus Lerdorf is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
University of Waterloo, King City Secondary School - PHP creator

30
51 24
Yukihiro Matsumoto is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
GeneMarcAngeloJr added University of Tsukuba - Yukihiro "Matz" Matsumoto is the creator of the Ruby language. 

31
38 15
John McCarthy is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
JeffDarcy added California Institute of Technology, Princeton University

32
26 16
Michael Stonebraker is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
arun added University of Michigan, Princeton University - PostgreSQL, ingres

33
57 55
Elon Musk is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
AtipatWattanuntachai added Queen's University, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania - Paypal creator
 

34
14 10
Konrad Zuse is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Technical University of Berlin, Collegium Hosianum

35
14 10
Tony Hoare is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
arun added Merton College, Oxford, Moscow State University

36
21 21
Doug Cutting is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
arun added Stanford University - Lucene, Nutch, Hadoop Creator

37
54 50
Matt Mullenweg is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
University of Houston - WordPress founder

38
40 39
Alan Cooper is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
College of Marin - Visual Basic pioneer

39
19 24
Travis E. Oliphant is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
arun added NumPy creator

40
24 32
Salvatore Sanfilippo is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
arun added Redis NoSQL Database

41
19 26
Paul Graham is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
EdwardHill added Rhode Island School of Design, Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze, Cornell University

42
6 12
Kai Krause is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
evilgrin32 added

43
6 13
Robert Sedgewick is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Stanford University

44
7 14
Faysel Kedir is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
fayacool18 added Faysel Kedir

45
69 97
Mark Zuckerberg is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
AtipatWattanuntachai added Mercy College, Ardsley High School, Harvard University

46
5 14
G. S. Bhalla is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
BhallaGS added

47
4 13
Tiancheng Lou is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
OmorJ.Kocharee added Tiancheng Lou Search on google

48
5 13
Jenny F. Babon is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Jenny Francisco Babon added Jenny F. Babon

49
4 14
Ahmad M. Othman is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
AmadoMahmoud added Ahmad M. Othman

50
6 21
Jenny Babon is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Influential Software Programmers of All Time
Jenny Francisco Babon added Jenny Babon