As vital members of the modern tech-based world, computer scientists design the programs and software we rely on daily. Perhaps you open Facebook once or twice daily. Maybe you use Google for research. Even if you simply own a computer-based device, you are familiar in some way with this field and the people who have helped build it. From computers to cell phones, you have likely interacted with the work of these featured outstanding computer scientists in some capacity.
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Computer Scientists and Their Philanthropy
Lawrence “Larry” Page, Ph.D.
As the co-founder of Google, Larry Page is globally considered an outstanding computer scientist. He, along with co-founder Sergey Brin, is an internet entrepreneur. In 2004, the search engine launched for Initial Public Offering. Two years later, the company purchased YouTube. By 2006, Page made Forbes 400 List of Riches People in America at number 13.
As the son of a Dr. Carl Page, a computer scientist and artificial intelligence pioneer, and Gloria Page, a computer programming teacher, his career seems natural. Page started at the University of Michigan for his B.S. in engineering. He then moved to Stanford University, where he obtained both his graduate degrees and met Brin.
Page and Brin designed the search engine while at the university research project. Their efforts quickly lead to investor interest. The duo raised $1 million to launch Google in 1998. Since then, the search engine has grown into the most popular site of its kind in the world.
Beyond his massive business success, he is also a philanthropist. The Carl Victor Page Memorial Foundation, in conjunction with Google, donated $30 million to relief from the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. These 2014 efforts reflect a fraction of Page’s contribution. According to Forbes in 2017, Page has donated $1.5 billion to various causes since beginning to acquire personal wealth in 2000.
Page and his company are also recipients of several awards. Google is one of the Top 100 Web Sites and Search Engines. The company also holds a Webby Award. Page himself was a featured Fortune “Businessperson of the Year” and Forbes “Powerful People” as well as their No. 1 “America’s Most Popular Chief Executives.”
Outstanding Computer Scientist: Read about Larry Page.
His is a household name around the world. Though considered one of the best contemporary computer scientists, Bill Gates‘ entrepreneurial and philanthropic work has earned him true fame.
Gates began his college education at Harvard but dropped out to pursue his own interests. He began work on Microsoft in 1975 with colleague Paul Allen. The first Microsoft Windows retail version launched in 1985 and was extremely successful. Furthermore, the company was key in pioneering the idea of the “personal computer.” Eventually, computer mogul IBM approached Gates and Allen to use their operating system for new computers, making their idea a reality.
Along with his numerous contributions to the field of computer science, Gates has a large philanthropic impact. He and his wife, Melinda, founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The organization aims to solve both international and domestic issues such as access to education and healthcare.
The Foundation’s Goalkeepers Report examines the progress made in a variety of global health areas, including infant mortality, malnutrition, and HIV incidence. Gates is also instrumental in the fight against Alzheimer’s Disease. He invested $50 million into the Dementia Discovery Fund to help advance research.
Since founding and retiring from Microsoft in 2008, Gates has been awarded numerous time. He is the recipient of a 2010 Boy Scout Silver Buffalo Award and the 2014 Bower Award for Business Leadership. Additionally, he is an honorary Trustee of Peking University and holds several honorary doctorates. Forbes alone listed him in several “top” lists, including No. 7 Most Powerful Person in 2018, No. 2 Forbes 400 (Wealthiest Americans) in 2018, and No. 1 Richest in Tech in 2017. Perhaps his and his wife’s greatest accomplishment, however, was receiving the 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama.
Outstanding Computer Scientist: Read about Bill Gates.
The famous founder of Facebook, one of the world’s most popular social networking sites, Mark Zuckerberg is one of the wealthiest contemporary computer scientists in the world. His current worth is about 61.4 billion, making him one of the youngest billionaires ever. Of note, his company became public in 2012 and remains a staple means of connection across the globe.
Interestingly, Zuckerberg attended Harvard University but dropped out to pursue the founding of his company. His background in computers began at a young age, however. He studied with a private tutor as a teen and took graduate courses in computer science before finishing high school. Although he left the university, Harvard later awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 2017.
Of note, Zuckerberg is also the scientist behind several other online projects. During his high school studies, he developed Synapse, an early music recommendation service. He also created Facemash, a ranking system of “hotness” which was quickly shut down by Harvard administration. The film The Social Network attempts to explain these projects and the emergence of Facebook in Zuckerberg’s life.
For his efforts, he has been well-recognized. Zuckerberg is one of Time’s 100 Wealthiest and Most Influential People in the World. He is also a recipient of the magazine’s 2010 Person of the Year Award.
Along with his notable contribution of Facebook, Zuckerberg is influential in philanthropic causes. His contributions include donating $100 million to Newark Public Schools in New Jersey. He also signed the “Giving Pledge,” promising to donate at least 50% of his wealth to charity throughout his lifetime and encouraging other wealthy individuals to continue philanthropic efforts.
Outstanding Computer Scientist: Read about Mark Zuckerberg.
Computer Scientists and Their Programs
The Finnish computer scientist Linus Torvalds is most famous for his development of Linux. The software is an open-source operating system. Linux gained popularity with companies like Oracle and Intel as they supported the system as a cheaper alternative to Windows. While Torvalds was discharged from the company briefly, he has returned to run the company and focus on specific projects.
In 1988, he earned his master of science from the University of Helsinki. This cumulative degree followed years of tinkering with computers and programming. Other creations from Torvalds include gaming applications. Linus, however, was created as part of his master’s thesis.
Linux is unique computer software because it was initially released under General Public Licensing as opposed to more restrictive, proprietary licensing. Since its inception, Linux has grown greatly both in installations along with corporate acceptance of the program. Torvalds is currently working on the Linux kernel full-time for the Open Source Development Lab in Oregon.
For his work, Torvalds has many awards. His collection includes the IEEE Masaru Ibuka Consumer Electronics Award, the IEEE Computer Pioneer Award, a place in the Internet Hall of Fame, the Millennium Technology Prize, and the Takeda Award. He is also a featured 2008 Fellow with the Computer History Museum. Ultimately, Linux completely revolutionized the computer software industry.
Outstanding Computer Scientist: Read about Linus Torvalds.
This outstanding computer scientist started with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the Rochester Insitute of Technology. Of note, he also worked on data mining and instant messaging networks at the university. His work focused on finding new ways of encouraging real-time online collaborations.
Currently, he is working as a Principal Architect at Khan Academy, a free online education site. His most notable contribution to the school is his creation of the Computer Programming learning environment.
Furthermore, Resig is a member of the Japanese Art Society of America and is a visiting researcher at Ritsumeikan University. His contributions to the field of computer science are now standard. They are also integral to contemporary web development.
Outstanding Computer Scientist: Read about John Resig.
The mind behind Ruby, and online cloud platform, is Yukihiro Matsumoto, a Japanese computer scientist. While he graduated from the University of Tsukuba, his service is located in San Francisco. Matsumoto has said that the Ruby programming language is made for programmer productivity. It follows the principles of good user interface design.
He designed Ruby by integrating his favorite parts of Perl, Smalltalk, Eiffel, Ada, and Lisp. It is among the top 10 programming languages based on growth and popularity. Plus, it is free to download, use, copy, modify, and distribute as a public user. Matsumoto strongly believes that systems design should focus more on human needs rather than computer needs.
When he created Ruby, he intended to develop a language that the human user enjoyed utilizing. Furthermore, it needed to be less confusing. Ultimately, the design would create less work for the programmer.
Since its inception, Ruby has been called a “flexible language.” It allows outstanding computer scientists to change various parts of the program for adaptability. For this work, Matsumoto received the 2011 Award for the Advancement of Free Software from the Free Software Foundation and received the Japan Innovators Award. Moreover, he is a fellow at the Rakuten Institute of Technology, which is a research and development organization.
Outstanding Computer Scientist: Read about Yukihiro Matsumoto.
A co-founder of 37signals, the makers of Basecamp, Jason Fried is a renowned keynote speaker in the world of business. He moves beyond his work in contemporary computer science into organizational and business theory. Like Basecamp, his focus is to expose and fix the most frequent issues in workplaces.
Basecamp is a web application that allows companies to interact in a singular space for projects and communications alike. Other projects Fried’s company developed include Highrise, Backpack, Ta-da List, Campfire, and Writeboard. 37signals primarily focuses on developing these types of web applications.
In the end, his goal through the development of Basecamp was to create web applications which would make time in the workplace easier and more efficient. Fried’s goal for Basement is to stick to simplicity and ease of use in everything developed at the company. This is also a major component of his talks on time management, business models, and software development.
In addition to his work as a keynote speaker on workplace management, Fried is an author. Some of his books include Rework, co-authored with David Heinemeier Hansson, and Getting Real: The Smarter, Faster, Easier Way to Build a Successful Web Application. He remains active with his original company, contributing to their blog “Signal vs. Noise.”
Fried’s work has also received praise. The MIT Technology Review named him a “Top 35 Innovator in the World Under the Age of 35.”
Outstanding Computer Scientist: Read about Jason Fried.
Computer Scientists and Their Languages
Miguel de Icaza
A truly outstanding contemporary computer scientist, Miguel de Icaza is most famous for his work in starting the GNOME, Mono, and Xamarin projects. He was born in Mexico City and studied math at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. However, he did not complete his degree. The outstanding computer scientist dove into his work early, scripting free software as early as 1992, five years before launching the GNOME project.
GNOME remains a completely free desktop environment for UNIX-style operating systems. Icaza later co-founded Helix Code, now called Ximian. The company went on to announce the Mono Project. This project aimed to implement Microsoft’s new “.NET” development platform on open-software platforms. However, Ximian was acquired by Microsoft along with the project. He remains the Chief Technology Officer of that particular project. Of note, Icaza is a proponent of free software, using Linux and similar systems to develop his own content.
His work is highly recognized within the computer industry. Icaza is the recipient of the 1999 Free Software Foundation Award for the Advancement of Free Software and is the 1999 MIT Technology Review Innovator of the Year Award. He was one of Time magazine’s 100 Innovators for the New Century in 2000. Moreover, he holds a Microsoft MVP Award and is one of MindTouch’s Most Powerful Voices in Open Source.
Although he was born in Mexico, Icaza is an American. He was granted US Citizenship in January of 2015. and he currently lives in the Bay Area of California. Now, Icaza runs a blog that discusses various aspects of the ever-changing computer science world.
Outstanding Computer Scientist: Read about Miguel de Icaza.
Eich earned his bachelor’s degree at Santa Clara University in California. He then went on to receive his master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Of note, Mozilla’s Firefox web browser has won a plethora of awards. While Eich resigned from the company in 2014 at the rank of CEO, his ideals for the company remain strong. The Foundation and Corporation function as two halves of a whole that intend to build better user experiences on the web. In addition to his current investments, Eich runs a blog where he covers a plethora of topics related to computer science.
Outstanding Computer Scientist: Read about Brendan Eich.
Sophie Wilson — Making History as a Renowned Female Computer Scientist
As the designer of the Acorn Micro-Computer, Sophie Wilson defined her career as an outstanding computer scientist. While her accomplishments incorporate what others on this list have done, her success in the field was truly unprecedented. As such, she is particularly amazing as she continues to open the door for future women in the field.
The Acorn System 1, her first design, was the first in a long history of computers sold by Acorn Computer Limited. While at Acorn, she helped design and implement the prototype of the BBC Microcomputer.
A British outstanding computer scientist, she studied at the University of Cambridge. Her studies developed quickly, including the development of an automatic cow-feeder.
She also designed the instruction set of the ARM processor used in smartphones. Currently, Wilson works at Broadcom. Wilson was the Chief Architect of Broadcom’s Firepath processor.
Her contributions to computer science are vast. The ARM processor she helped develop is in thousands of devices from phones to tablets to televisions to video games. Over 30 billion ARM processors shipped globally every year. Wilson’s work is notable because her developments are so widely used.
Beyond her list of contributions, she has a significant list of awards. Wilson is one of the 2012 “15 Most Important Women in Technology History” per Maximum PC. She is also a 2012 Fellow with the Computer History Museum. She also served as a 2013 fellow to the Royal Society and a 2016 honorary fellow at Cambridge’s Selwyn College.
Outstanding Computer Scientist: Read about Sophie Wilson.