Famous Computer Scientists Throughout History
Computer science has been a widely influential field in recent decades. A wide variety of people have contributed their talents to the field. While many people may not know these names, they have made major changes to the lives of millions of people. If you’re considering a career in computer science, look at some of the people who have made this career path possible.
Known for being the first to come up with an automatic calculator, Charles Babbage was a mathematician in Victorian England. He created plans to build the Analytical Engine, a machine that contained some aspects of modern computers.1 Though it was never built in his lifetime, the concepts and plans Babbage purposed have earned him the title of the "father of computing."1
Babbage was not the only person in Victorian England considering the possibility of computers. Ada Lovelace is known as the first programmer in history.2 She was the daughter of poet Lord Byron and a good friend of Babbage. Having found interest in his ideas, Ada took to writing algorithms to be used on a machine.2 While these programs were not used in her lifetime, she laid the foundations for all modern programmers.2
During World War II, the Germans had invented the enigma machine to encrypt messages. Alan Turing led a team to cracking many of these messages and, in turn, saved many lives. He is now considered contributing to the modern computer with his contributions to the field.3
Turing is also remembered for his theories on artificial intelligence that are still studied today. The Turing test is his most prominent idea, as it looks at whether a computer can mimic human behavior independently and fool people.4 Work in robotics and artificial intelligence is built on these ideas.
Whenever you search for websites you can thank Tim Berners-Lee for his contributions to the field. He invented the World Wide Web, a system of pulling up web pages for websites.5 Whenever you type in “www.” you are searching for a site on the World Wide Web. While many advancements have come about since then, Tim Berners-Lee’s contributions are still the building blocks of the internet.
Everyone is aware of Steve Jobs and how Apple is one of the biggest names in the computer and smartphone markets. However, many are unaware of Steve Wozniak and his contributions. Computers were originally very large and too expensive for regular Americans to own. Companies like Windows and Apple changed this trend. Wozniak cofounded Apple Computer Company alongside Steve Jobs in 1976. They released the Apple II which was one of the first highly successful personal computers in 1977.6
The general population now had an easier way to own computers. Personal computers also revolutionized the workplace. Wozniak is credited for helping to start the home computer craze and has helped bring this technology to people’s homes.
Linus Torvalds is best known for creating the Linux Operating System.7 He made the kernel of the operating system which is the brain that helps the system running correctly. All parts of the system need a kernel to work correctly. People can use the kernel for free and build all the features they need for a system.7 This operating system is a good alternative to Windows and Mac IOS since it gives a people the ability to modify the system even at the base level.
Guido van Rossum
Many programming languages have come and gone over the years. Each program can be beneficial in certain situations, but some languages have widespread usage. When Guido van Rossum made the Python programming language, he made it for a general purpose in mind.8
Today, Python is one of the most widely used and recognized languages on the market.8 Programming is a sought after skill that can lead you into software development among other fields.
Future of Computer Science
While many people have contributed to the field, there is still so much work to be done. There will always be a need for computer scientists. As computers become more and more a part of daily life, computer scientists will continue to be in demand. There are a vast variety of fields within computer science and information technology for you to find a career.
Check out Grand Canyon University’s computer science degree programs and learn more about our campus and online learning environments. Our experienced faculty and staff can help you earn a degree that could lead you into a computer science career. Click the Request Info button at the top of this page to get started.
1 University of Minnesota, Who was Charles Babbage? in August 2021
2 Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Ada Lovelace and the First Computer Programme in the World in August 2021
3 NSA, Alan Turing 2014 Hall of Honor Inductee in August 2021
4 The New Yorker, What Comes After the Turing Test? in August 2021
5 Images Paediatric Cardiology, Publishing on the WWW. Part 5 - A brief history of the Internet and the World Wide Web in August 2021
6 Berkley Engineering, Steve Wozniak: Inventor and Apple Co-Founder in August 2021
7 Lemelson-MIT, Linus Torvalds Linux Operating System in August 2021
8 TechRepublic, Python Programming Language Creator Guido van Rossum Joins Microsoft in August 2021
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.
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