42 Greatest Software Professionals of All Times (Updated)

The list of the 42 software professionals of all times (updated)

If you consider the history of computing, we can see that the basic mechanical e mathematical  concepts came centuries ago, with the invention of the abacus, passing through the invention of the Antikythera mechanism, considered by many as the first analog computer.

But, it was only in the 17th century, with Charles Babbage that the concept of digital computer surged. From this point until today, especially after 1950, many professionals surged to define lots of concepts, based on the mechanical foundation created decades ago.

This list is composed of 41 professionals, chosen by their capacity to change the way we work with technology today, developing concepts, patterns, programming languages, tools, and technologies. 

Here is the list, ordered by alphabetical order:

1 - Ada Lovelace:

Daughter of the famous poet Lord Byron, Ada was a mathematician and writer. She was recognized as the first computer programmer, Ada implemented the first algorithm intended to provide a calculation for the Analytical Engine, the general-purpose computer designed by Charles Babbage.

Links: BBC DOCUMENTARY: Calculating Ada

2 - Alan Kay: 

Computer scientist, president of Viewpoints Research Institute and professor at universities like Kyoto University and MIT, Kay was the pioneer of object-oriented programming and the graphical user interface (GUI), with the Dynabook concept, that culminates after with the creation of laptops and tablets. 

Links: TED - A powerful idea about ideas | Computer Education Research Blog

3 - Alan Turing:

Mathematician, scientist, philosopher, Turin create the concept of the Turin Machine considered the model of a general-purpose computer. He worked actively in Second War, creating the machine that helped break the German Enigma codes. He also theorized what we know now as artificial intelligence.

Links: Computing Machinery and Intelligence | Movie - The Imitation Game

4 - Alistair Cockburn: 

Alistair is a computer scientist, and it was one of the initiators of the agile movement in software development, helping to write the Manifesto for Agile Development. He conceptualizes lots of interesting concepts, like the Cockburn Scale for categorizing software projects, the Hexagonal Architecture and the concepts of Lightweight Architecture. 

Links: Heart of Agile Movement | Twitter

5 - Anders Hejlsberg:

Software Engineer, Anders was co-designer of several popular commercial programming languages, like Pascal, J++, Delphi, C#. Besides that, he worked on the development of the compilers for these languages. He is working at Microsoft developing the TypeScript language.

Links: Github | Twitter

6 - Barry Boehm:

Boehm is a computer scientist and software engineer, director of Center for Systems and Software Engineering at the University of Southern California. He did extensive research in the areas of software quality, software engineering economics, and invented the Spiral Model,  as a risk-driven for the software development process, the Wideband Delphi method, for estimating effort and the Constructed Cost Model.

Links: Interview - Software Cost Estimation | Tech Talk - The ICSM Model

7 - Bill Gates:

The multi-billionaire software developer, investor, co-founder of Microsoft, one of the companies that provided the revolution of microcomputers in the modern era. 

Now, Gates dedicates his time to philanthropy in the institute Bill & Melinda Gates.

Links: Gates Notes | The next outbreak? We're not ready

8 - Bjarne Stroustrup:

Computer scientist, working as managing director at Morgan Stanley, Stroustrup was the creator of the C++ programming language, which provided support for programming in a procedural, object-oriented, or functional way. This language is still one of the most used in the world, since operating systems, browsers, games, compilers, database systems, and others.

Links: Personal Homepage | LinkedIn

9 - Brendan Eich:

Technologist, creator of the Javascript programming language, the most used language in the world, if you consider all the frameworks and subsets based on it (like, for example, Angular with TypeScript language).

Brendan co-founded the Mozilla project and he is the CTO of Mozilla Corporation.

Links: Personal Homepage | Github

10 - Brian Kernighan:

Kernighan is a physics that contributed to the development of the Unix operation system, author of the book "The C Programming Language", that is considered one of the motives for the popularization and development of the C language. He is co-author of the book Go Programming Language, and work at Princeton University.

Links: Princeton - Department of Computer Science

11 - Charles Babbage:

Mathematician, philosopher, inventor, mechanical engineer, Babbage created the concept of a digital programmable computer. The concept of Analytical Engine, from 1837, containing an Arithmetic Logic Unit, basic flow control and integrated memory turned him into the father of computing.

Links: Video - A demo of Charles Babbage's Difference Engine

12 - David Parnas:

David Lorge Parnas is a pioneer as software and electric engineer, creating the concept of information hiding, which is the idea of restriction of some components from inside an object. This concept represented the basis of Encapsulation, which is much important when we are talking about OOP.

Links: Google Scholar

13 - Dennis Ritchie:

Computer scientist, Ritchie was the creator of the C programming language, helping with the invention of the Unix operating system and B programming language. 

Links: Video - Top 20 Denis Ritchie Quotes | Bell Labs Material | Video - UNIX: Making Computers Easier to Use - 1982

14 - Donald Knuth:

Computer scientist, mathematician, and professor emeritus at Stanford University,  Donald Knuth was the developer of rigorous analysis of the computational complexity of algorithms, creating the concept of asymptotic notation. 

Links: Stanford University Homepage

15 - Doug Cutting:

Software designer formed at Stanford University, Doug was the creator of open-source search technology, through big products like Lucene and Nutch. He is the manager of Apache Software Foundation, working for Cloudera.

Links: Here’s What Doug Cutting Says Is Hadoop’s Biggest Contribution

16 - Edsger Dijkstra:

Ester Wybe Dijkstra was a Dutch scientist and software engineer that provided an enormous contribution to computer science, especially in compiler construction, operating and distributed systems, software engineering, graph algorithms (like the Dijkstra's algorithm). 

Links: E. W. Dijkstra Archive

17 - Eric Evans:

Eric Evans is a specialist in domain modeling and design in large business systems. Since the early 1990s, he has worked on many projects developing large business systems with objects and has been deeply involved in applying Agile processes on real projects. He's the author of the book "Domain-Driven Design: Tackling Complexity in the Heart of the Software" considered required reading for who wants to learn DDD.

Links: Personal Website | Twitter

18 - Fred Brooks:

Frederick Phillips Brooks is a computer architect, scientist, and software engineer, project manager for the IBM System/360. He managed the development of OS/360. In his book, The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Brooks conceptualized the idea that adding manpower to a late project makes it even later. 

Links: Google Scholar

19 - Grace Hopper:

Hopper joined the U.S. Navy during World War II and was assigned to program the Mark I computer. She continued to work in computing after the war, leading the team that created the first computer language compiler, which led to the popular COBOL language.

Links: Documentary - The Queen of Code

20 - Guido van Rossum:

Developer and creator of Python programming language, Van Rossum is known as a BDFL (Benevolent Dictator for Life), which means that he continues to oversee Python development process, and always making decisions where necessary.

Links: Personal Page | Personal Blog | The Mind at Work Interview

21 - James Gosling:

Data Scientist and inventor, known as the father of Java Programming Language, Gosling is now advising companies like Amazon, Lightbend, Jelastic, Eucalyptus, DIRTT Environmental Solutions. He works actively to the development of distributed systems solutions, and helped to construct part of the 8 Fallacies of Distributed Computing.

Links: Patents by James Gosling | Personal Blog

22 - Jeff Sutherland:

Jeff Sutherland is one of the creators of the Scrum software development process, helping to write the Agile Manifesto in 2001. He is working actively since then to spread the best use of Agile practices in industries.

Links: Personal Blog | Twitter

23 - Jim Highsmith:

Highsmith is a software engineer, author of books about software development methodology and creator of the Adaptative Software Development focused on the principle of continuous adaptation of the process, as part of the software development.

Links: ThoughtWorks website | Keep Agile Going

24 - John Carmack:

Carmack is a computer programmer, video game developer, and engineer, co-founder of id Software, working as lead programmer of games like Doom, Quake, Wolfenstein 3D, creating algorithms in the area of 3D graphics. Working as Consulting CTO for Oculus VR.

Links: Personal Blog | Twitter

25 - John Ive:

Industrial, product, and architectural designer, Ive was the former Chief Design Officer of Apple, responsible for the design of many Apple products like, iMac, iPod, iPad, MaBook and services, like Apple Park and Apple Stores. Working now as Chancellor of Royal College of Art in London.

Links: What will Apple do without Jony Ive? | About Johathan Ive

26 - Ken Thompson:

One of the pioneers of computer science, Ken designed and implemented the original Unix operating system. He invented the B programming language, which preceded the famous C programming language. The definition of UTF-8 encoding, co-invention of the Go programming language, and many others were made by Ken Thompson.      

Links: Video - VCF East 2019 - Interview | Reflections on trusting trust

27 - Kent Beck:

Ken is a software engineer, creator of the Extreme Programming, and one the creators of Agile Manifesto. He is one of the most important names on the concept of Test-Driven Development and gave many contributions for frameworks like xUnit  and JUnit.

Links: Personal Website | Twitter

28 - Larry Page:

Co-founder of Google, the multinational technology company that dominates almost 90% of the online search market. Page and Sergey Brin left the company in 2019 to the current CEO Sundar Pichai. 

Links: TED - Where's Google going next?A letter from Larry and Sergey

29 - Linus Torvalds:

Software engineer, Linus is the creator and principal developer of the Linux Kernel and the distributed version control system Git. Actually working to maintain the kernel at Linux Foundation. 

Links: GitHub | Interview - I'm not a programmer anymore

30 - Mark Zuckerberg:

Founder of Facebook, the most famous multi-billionaire social network in the world. Zuckerberg serves as its chairman, chief executive officer, and controlling shareholder.

Links: A Privacy-Focused Vision for Social Networking

31 - Martin Fowler:

Fowler was the founder of concepts like code refactoring and Design Patterns. He was one of the creators of the Agile Manifesto and popularized the term Dependency Injection. He is Chief Scientist at ThoughtWorks.

Links: Personal Website

32 - Niklaus Wirth:

Niklaus Wirth is a computer scientist, responsible for the creation of many programming languages like Pascal, Algol W, Euler, Modula, Modula-2, Oberon, Oberon-2, Oberon-07.      

Links: Biography | Video - Programming Languages Future Challenges

33 - Richard Stallman:

Free software movement activist and programmer, Stallman was the creator of GNU Project and Free Software Foundation, the copyleft concept and author of free software licenses like the GNU General Public License. 

Links: Personal Website

34 - Robert C. Martin:

Uncle Bob is one of the authors of the Agile Manifesto. He organized the five principles of object-oriented programming, known as SOLID. Author of famous books like Clean Code, Agile Principles and Practices, Uncle Bob works as an instructor of his company, Clean Coder.

Links: Personal Blog | Design Principles and Design Patterns

35 - Sanjay Ghemawat:

Computer scientist and software engineer working at Google in the area of big data processing, using MapReduce model and other technologies like Google File System, Bigtable, Tensorflow and Spanner. In his dissertation about Object-Oriented databases, Ghemawat worked directly with the supervision of Barbara Liskov (the creator of one of the SOLID principles).

Links: Articles | The Modified Object Buffer: A Storage Management Technique for OO Databases

36 - Steve Wozniak:

Computer scientist, inventor, and philanthropist. Wozniak, with the participation of Steve Jobs, invented the Apple I computer. The pair founded Apple Computers in 1976 with Ronald Wayne, releasing some of the first personal computers on the market. In November 2019, Wozniak has remained an employee of Apple in a ceremonial capacity since stepping down in 1985.

Links: Breakout Game | | Twitter

37 - Thomas Sterling:

Professor of Intelligent Systems Engineering at the Indiana University, Computing and Engineering, Sterling provided expense research in the area of parallel computing systems structures, semantic, and operation. He is known as the father of Beowulf clusters.

Links: Video-The Future of Computer Architecture is Non-von Neumann

38 - Tim Berners-Lee:

Engineer and computer scientist, Berners-Lee is known as the inventor of the World Wide Web, the protocol HTTP, implementing the first communication client/server via the internet. He is the director of W3C Consortium, founder of the Web Foundation,  president of Open Data Institute and advisor of MeWe.

Links: Articles | Blog | Twitter | Poscast: 30 years on, what’s next #ForTheWeb?

39 - Tom DeMarco:

Sofware engineer, author, consultant of software engineering topics. DeMarco was one of the major figures in the development of structured analysis and structured design in software engineering. Hist book Structured Analysis and System Specification is a classic in the technology area. 

Links: List of Books Interview

40 - Udi Dahan:

Software engineer, an expert on software architecture and design, Udi is one of the world’s thought leaders in the areas of Service-Oriented Architecture, Domain-Driven Design, co-creator of the Command/Query Responsibility Segregation pattern, founder of NServiceBus, companies from all over the world turn to Udi for help on their mission-critical projects.

41 - Ward Cunningham:

Cunningham is a computer programmer, developer of the first wiki, co-author of Manifesto for Agile Software Development, a pioneer for design patterns, extreme programming, creator of the WikiWikiWeb, among many other achievements.

Links: Personal Website | Interview | Twitter

42 - Werner Vogels:

Vogels is a computer scientist, author of many articles about distributed systems technology for computing systems specialized in ultra-scalable systems. He is vice-president of Amazon. 

Links: Blog | Twitter | Video - A Conversation with Werner Vogels


These professionals provided so much for the projects they worked on (most of them working nowadays on such good projects). How can we learn with them, moving a step forward in the world of technology?

Please, let your comments. Feel free to add more names and their achievements, so we can comment and learn more. I know they are lots more names that could be added here, so let us know about it.

Thank you.



I'd like to leave with you some references that can be helpful for your development as a software engineer, part of what we talked about above:

Links for books related to this article (Amazon US): 

Links for books related to this article (Amazon UK): 


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  1. David Parnas and Dijkstra are most certainly missing!

  2. Between Grace Hooper and Guido von Rossum you have a missed on Grady Booch!

  3. I would have thought you want to add those who created relational databases etc and thereby changing the face of business as we know it. For example, Dr Ted Codd. Oracle, IBM and CSC together in the early days changed the face of computing.

  4. Jonny Ive is hardly a software person (AFAIK).