14 of the world's greatest programmers from the dawn of computing until today

In this post, the list of the greatest programmers in history since the beginnings of computing.

Today we use computers, Macs and PCs a lot. Many business software are used to complete professional work in record time.

Behind these advances are hidden men and women who have made our current life possible. Discover the greatest programmers who have marked history since the dawn of the field of computing.

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The world's greatest programmers from the dawn of computing to date

Before going further I would like to point out that many people have criticized the order in which I have integrated the names and especially the absence of certain big innovators. I would like to blow up here, many misunderstanding about the purpose of the post.

  • It is not a matter ranking of the best programmer in the world. The numbers allow me not to be mistaken about the number that I display in the title of the article.
  • Why didn't we put Steve Jobs in the list ? He has never coded in his life!!
  • Why didn't we put Steve Wozniak ? He's more an electronic and computer hardware engineer rather than programmer. But hey, it's still debatable.

The list isn't complete and we'll continue to expand it over time, so don't worry.

1. Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace - Dean of Programming - 14 of the World's Greatest Programmers from the Dawn of Computing to Present - 2021
Ada Lovelace

She was a mathematician who worked on Charles Babbage's mechanical general-purpose computer known as the Analytical Engine.

She is the first female programmer in history and in the world. You will also find it among the world's greatest and least-known inventors ...

2. Niklaus Wirth

Niklaus Wirth - 14 of the world's greatest programmers from the dawn of computing until today - 2021
Niklaus Writh

He is a Swiss computer scientist recognized as one of the pioneers of programming languages.

He is responsible for the design of several programming languages, the best known of which are Pascal, Euler and Algol. Many modern programming languages ​​are inspired by it.

He is also the author and co-author of several best-selling books on the fundamentals of programming.

3. Bill Gates

Bill Gates

The list of influential programmers can never be complete without mentioning the founder and creator of Microsoft.

Bill Gates created the BASIC language when he was still a student. Today this language is used under several versions and different names in the Windows environment.

4. James Gosling

James-Gosling_java - 14 of the world's greatest programmers from the dawn of computing until today - 2021
james goslin

He is the man who created the Java programming language, the NeWs windowing system and author of GoslingEmacs. After the purchase of Sun Microsystem by Oracle, he took his resignation indicating that he wants to take a long vacation.

Today Java is one of the most influential and used programming languages ​​by companies.

It is also used to create applications for embedded systems such as Android phones, microchips. The language is also used to create web applications.


5. Guido van Rossum


Have you heard of him? You have certainly heard of the language he created. He's the man behind the programming language Python.

The popularity of the language continues to grow until today. It is widely used in web application programming, in calculations and scientific simulation. Today with data science, language is more ubiquitous than ever.

6.Kenneth Thompson


Call him Ken because that's what he's called in the hacker community. He worked for Google and developed the programming language Go.

In the past he is also known for one of his inventions which turned the world of operating systems upside down. He is the programmer of the famous operating system Unix .

This core is still found today in MacOS. The concept and operation of UNIX inspired another developer to create the world's most widely used free kernel that even bears his name. It is Linux. We will speak a little later in the article but for the moment, we return to the main subject.

Unix is ​​a system known for its stability and robustness and has nothing to envy other modern OS. Today unix operating systems exist in open source in the form of BSD and its derivatives.

Kenneth Thompson is also the developer of the B language, which was the predecessor of the illustrious C programming language.


7. Donald Knuth

donald knuth
Donald knuth

He is the father of the analytical algorithm for his contributions in the field of analysis and the computational complexity of algorithms.

At first, he should write a book on programming language compilers. While working on the project, he felt he could not move forward without developing a rigorous theory on the foundation of computer programming.

He therefore created a series of book volumes entitled “The Art of Computer programming”. It thus lays the foundations of the analysis and the complexity of the algorithm.

Today, we can ensure and measure the performance of digital transactions.

Perform data processing in record time on a non-powerful machine.

And better, the compression algorithms that facilitate the transfer of files and the processing of media such as images and videos.

All this thanks to algorithms that can be rigorously measured, improved and even created. This is possible thanks to the foundation laid by Knuth.

Footnotes : I tried to read his book during my undergraduate studies. I ended up stopping (taking a long break) because it seemed too complicated to me at the time. Bill Gates once said, if you think you're really good at programming, read these books.

8. Tim Berners-Lee

14 of the world's greatest programmers from the dawn of computing to date - 2021
Tim Berners-Lee, pioneer of the World Wide Web, c 1990s.

He is the author of the protocol hyper text transfer protocol known as http . He is the very first developer to create and define the foundations of what we know today as the world wide web or www.

Before Tim, the internet was used by the US military. Thanks to the http protocol, Tim has enabled the world to create and read information differently.

Currently he is the President of world wide web consortium abbreviated w3c. This company allows to continue the improvement of the web all over the world.

Without it, even tedidev.com wouldn't be read.

9. Bjarne Stroustrup

Bjarne Stroustrup

Bjarne is both a programmer and a mathematician. He is best known for creating the C++ programming language.

This language is also one of the most used in the world and is known for its use in the creation of video games.

10. Linus Torvalds


Linus is well known for being the creator of the kernel which itself bears his name: Linux.

At the time, Unix systems were chargeable and inaccessible to the public. No one could use a computer without special permission.

Thanks to Linux Torvalds, the public was able to have access to different operating systems (or OS) which are still free until today.

the open source Linux kernel is used today used in OS like Debian and its derivatives including the famous OS ofAfrica from south ubuntu . Android, redhat linux and its derivatives are also in the game.

To give you a broader idea, Linux is the basis of the most used systems in the world to serve you websites, operate your smartphones and computers and it continues to be used in the field of robotics.

If windows is public oriented, linux systems, although freely available to all, are frequently used in servers and embedded objects. Linux is also found in some television wifi routers.

It even seems that the first version of Microsoft Windows was based on the Linux kernel.

The history of the Linux kernel is very exciting, I recommend that you follow this video.

11. Dennis Ritchie


C ++ is the offspring of the C language and Dennis Ritchie is the programmer who developed it.

The C language to give you an idea is used coupled with the assembly language to create operating systems including all systems such as Unix, Linux, MacOs and even Windows.

All smartphone OS are also created with this same. It is the language closest to the machine and the most used after the assembler. This programming language has inspired many so-called modern programming languages.

Dennis together with his longtime colleague Ken Thomson (creator of the B language) created the Unix operating system. You have surely noticed throughout the article that Unix is ​​a legend.

12. Margaret Hamilton

Margaret Hamilton

You may not know her, but she is the inventor of the term “ software engineering".

What started as a joke between colleagues has now become a discipline in its own right. Hamilton is also known for creating the software that allowed astronauts to fly the Apollo 11 space shuttle to the moon.

At a time when software engineering was not seen as a profession, Hamilton carried out numerous computer projects, most of which are still used by the American government and NASA. One of his contributions is the project SAGE.

  • SAGE Project: At MIT Lincoln Lab, Margaret Hamilton contributed to the development of a software prototype for the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) project allowing the US air force to detect potentially hostile aircraft. SAGE was quickly developed for military use in anti-aircraft defense against potential Soviet attacks during the Cold War.
  • Apollo 11: His contribution to the development of the Apollo 11 navigation software was critical to the accomplishment of the lunar mission. The robustness of her code and the design of the software architecture enabled the programmers she was responsible for to quickly resolve anomalies even before deployment.

His technical expertise in computer science led the Apollo software development team to write a program so robust that it could react to improbable events and human errors, ie the shuttle pilots.

This way of designing computer software has today become a computer field known as the Human-Machine Interface (HMI).

In 2016, Barack Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Margaret Hamilton for all these contributions.

13 Larry Page

Larry Page is the designer and programmer of the algorithm that powers the world's most widely used search engine. In addition to being a great developer, he is also an outstanding entrepreneur.

Born to parents with a degree in computer science, Larry took an early interest in the field of computer science.

At the University of Michigan for his Masters in Computer Science, Page created an inkjet printer using Lego bricks (literally a line plotter).

The idea was to be able to print large posters inexpensively with the use of inkjet cartridges – Larry Page reverse-engineered the ink cartridge and built the electronics and mechanics to make it work.

After enrolling in a doctoral program in computer science at Stanford University, Page set out to explore the mathematical properties of the World Wide Web, understanding its link structure as a huge graph.

It goes without doubt that it is inspired by graph theory.

He met Sergey Brin (his future co-founder) at this university and together wrote a research paper entitled “The Anatomy of a Large Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine".

This book became one of the most downloaded scientific documents in the history of the internet at the time.

Larry Page already had the idea of ​​creating telepresence and autonomous car applications. After the doctorate we all know the story. Larry Page and Sergey Brin found Google.

When he started as CEO of Google, he wrote a management documentcompany . Here are the main points of his management principle that his team uses as a reference:

  • Don't delegate: do whatever you can on your own to speed things up.

  • Don't be shy if you're not adding value. Let the people doing the work talk to each other while you go to do other things.

  • Don't be a bureaucrat.

  • Ideas are more important than age. Just because someone is a junior doesn't mean they don't deserve respect and cooperation.

  • The worst thing you can do is stop someone from doing something by saying, "No, period". If you say no, you have to help them find a better way to do it.

It is unknown whether these principles are still used, but history has shown the result.

Today at the head of Alphabet, Larry Page is one of the rare examples of a computer engineer who is also an entrepreneurial genius.

14. Anders Hejlsberg

Anders Hejlsberg

Anders Hejlsberg is a Danish programmer who has also revolutionized the world through his creations.

He is well known for being the author of the programming language Turbo pascal. Although the latter has almost disappeared, He has contributed to the creation of other programming languages ​​which are still in use.

Working as a chief engineer at Borland, he improves the Turbo Pascal language a lot. He also became the chief architect of the team that created the Delphi language, replacing Turbo Pascal.

In 1996, Hejlsberg joined Microsoft and one of his great contributions was the creation of the J++ language and then WFC (Windows Foundation Classes).

In 2000 he became lead developer of the team responsible for developing the C # language.

In 2012 Anders Hejlsberg announced the Typscript project. Today Typescript is one of the most widely used web programming languages ​​in the world. It is also used for development using the Angular framework.

We will continue to add programmers who have marked our world through their innovations and their perseverance.

world's greatest programmers from the dawn of computing to the present day