Famous 20th Century Computer Scientists

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Bill Gates

Bill Gates
15
Famous As: Co-Founder of Microssoft
Birthdate: October 28, 1955
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, United States

Leading American technologist, business leader and philanthropist, Bill Gates is the co-founder of the world’s largest software company, Microsoft. His passion for computers made him one of the richest in the world and through his charity foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, he and his ex-wife, Melinda, use this money generously to help people world over live a better life.

 2 Alan Turing

Alan Turing
32
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: June 23, 1912
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London, England
Died: June 7, 1954

Regarded as the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, Alan Turing was a distinguished mathematician and logician. During WWII, he successfully broke the challenging German Enigma machine codes thereby reducing the duration of war by a couple of years. The scientist, who was convicted for being gay, has been an inspiration for numerous films, plays and novels.

 3 Steve Wozniak

Steve Wozniak
6
Famous As: Co-founder of Apple Computer (Apple Inc.)
Birthdate: August 11, 1950
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: San Jose, California, United States

Widely recognized as one of the two important pioneers of the personal computer revolution, Steve Wozniak is credited with co-founding Apple Inc. along with Steve Jobs. Not surprisingly, he has been described as one of the men that changed the course of history through technology. Apart from being a programmer and technology entrepreneur, Steve Wozniak is also a well-known philanthropist.

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 4 John von Neumann

John von Neumann
10
Famous As: Mathematician, Computer Scientist
Birthdate: December 28, 1903
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: February 8, 1957
Hungarian-American scientist John von Neumann contributed to the development of game theory and the concept of self-replication. His work covered vast areas including math, economics, physics, and computer science. His research on nuclear physics led him to be part of the advisory committee of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

 5 Claude Shannon

Claude Shannon
4
Famous As: Mathematician, Cryptographer
Birthdate: April 30, 1916
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Petoskey, Michigan, United States
Died: February 24, 2001

Claude Shannon was an electrical engineer, mathematician, and cryptographer. He is credited with publishing the article A Mathematical Theory of Communication which gave rise to the field of information theory. Hence, Shannon is considered the father of information theory. He is also credited with founding digital circuit design theory. During World War II, he contributed to the field of cryptanalysis.

 6 Vint Cerf

Vint Cerf
6
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: June 23, 1943
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New Haven, Connecticut, United States

 7 Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper
21
Famous As: Computer Scientist
Birthdate: December 9, 1906
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York City
Died: January 1, 1992
Computer scientist and U.S. Navy rear admiral Grace Hopper was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computing system. She pioneered the machine-independent programming language technique, and the FLOW-MATIC language used by her was later used to create COBOL. She received a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom.
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 8 Dennis Ritchie

Dennis Ritchie
11
Famous As: Computer Scientist
Birthdate: September 9, 1941
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bronxville, New York, United States
Died: October 12, 2011

Computer scientist, Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie, worked at Bell Labs Computing Sciences Research Center for most of his career, co-developing the Unix operating system and B programming language with Kenneth Thompson, co-winning the 1983 A.M. Turing Award for it. Earlier, he had also created C programming language and was involved with the development of the Plan 9 and Inferno operating systems.

 9 John McCarthy

John McCarthy
3
Famous As: Mathematician, Computer scientist, Engineer, University teacher
Birthdate: September 4, 1927
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Boston
Died: October 24, 2011

 10 Shigeru Miyamoto

Shigeru Miyamoto
23
Famous As: Video Game Designer, Artist
Birthdate: November 16, 1952
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sonobe
Japanese game designer Shigeru Miyamoto is the man behind games such as Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Donkey Kong. He has been the general manager and senior MD at Nintendo and now serves as its representative director and creative fellow. He avoids appearing on TV or giving autographs.

 11 Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee
26
Famous As: Inventor of the World Wide Web
Birthdate: June 8, 1955
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London, England

Widely known as ten inventor of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee made the first communication between an HTTP client and server through the internet in 1989. He is associated with various organizations, such as the W3C and the World Wide Web Foundation, and has received the knighthood, too.

 12 Alan Kay

Alan Kay
5
Famous As: Computer Scientist
Birthdate: May 17, 1940
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Springfield, Massachusetts

 13 Bjarne Stroustrup

Bjarne Stroustrup
9
Famous As: Computer scientist, Engineer, Scientist, Programmer, Writer, University teacher
Birthdate: December 30, 1950
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Aarhus

 14 Ken Thompson

Ken Thompson
13
Famous As: Computer Scientist
Birthdate: February 4, 1943
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

 15 Vitalik Buterin

Vitalik Buterin
9
Famous As: Computer scientist
Birthdate: January 31, 1994
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kolomna, Russia

 16 James Gosling

James Gosling
11
Famous As: Programmer, Inventor, Computer scientist
Birthdate: May 19, 1955
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Calgary

James Gosling earned the nickname Dr. Java after he revolutionized the world of computer programming with his Java programming language. The Carnegie Mellon alumnus has had a 26-year stint with Sun Microsystems. The computer nerd has a picture of the first 1000 digits of √2 framed in his office.

 17 Tony Hoare

Tony Hoare
3
Famous As: Computer scientist
Birthdate: January 11, 1934
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Colombo, Sri Lanka

Tony Hoare is a British computer scientist who is credited with developing the sorting algorithm quicksort. He is also credited with developing Hoare logic, a formal system for verifying program correctness. Over the years, Tony Hoare has received several prestigious awards for his contribution to computer science.

 18 Margaret Hamilton

Margaret Hamilton
6
Famous As: Computer Scientist
Birthdate: August 17, 1936
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paoli, Indiana, United States

Credited with coining the term software engineering, computer scientist and systems engineer, Margaret Heafield Hamilton served as the Director of the Software Engineering Division of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, overseeing the development of the on-board flight software for NASA's Apollo program.  A prolific writer, she is also the founder of two software companies; Higher Order Software and Hamilton Technologies.

 19 Sergey Brin

Sergey Brin
20
Famous As: Computer scientist
Birthdate: August 21, 1973
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Moscow
Google co-founder Sergey Brin also served as the president of Alphabet Inc. The seventh-richest person in the world as of 2020, Brin earlier dropped his PhD plans at Stanford, following which he and Larry Page launched Google in a garage. He is a devoted philanthropist and a Democratic Party donor.

 20 Guido van Rossum

Guido van Rossum
9
Famous As: Programmer
Birthdate: January 31, 1956
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Netherlands
Dutch programmer Guido van Rossum is known as the inventor of the Python programming language. He has also worked with Google and Dropbox earlier. In November 2020, he announced he announced his decision to join the Developer Division of Microsoft. He has won several honors, such as the NLUUG Award.

 21 John Carmack

John Carmack
9
Famous As: Chief technology officer, Aerospace engineer, Programmer, Computer scientist
Birthdate: August 20, 1970
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kansas City

Computer-game developer John Carmack introduced pioneering innovations in the 3-D game arena. He specializes in first-person shooter games, such as Quake and Doom. The id Software founder had spent a year in a juvenile home and had later dropped out of university to become a freelance programmer.

 22 Richard Stallman

Richard Stallman
9
Famous As: Software Programmer
Birthdate: March 16, 1953
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York City

Computer programmer and free-software activist Richard Stallman established the Free Software Foundation. The Harvard and MIT alumnus led the free GNU project, aimed at creating a UNIX-like operating system. He was later dragged into a controversy when he dismissed a sexual assault victim’s allegation against Jeffrey Epstein.

 23 Leslie Lamport

Leslie Lamport
3
Famous As: Mathematician, Computer scientist, Programmer, Engineer, Writer
Birthdate: February 7, 1941
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York City

 24 Donald Knuth

Donald Knuth
9
Famous As: Computer Scientist
Birthdate: January 10, 1938
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States

Mathematician and computer scientist Donald Ervin Knuth is best known for his contribution to the development of the rigorous analysis of the computational complexity of algorithms. Also the creator of the TeX computer typesetting system as well as the WEB and CWEB computer programming systems, he has published twenty books, most significant among them being The Art of Computer Programming.

 25 Gabe Newell

Gabe Newell
15
Famous As: Entrepreneur
Birthdate: November 3, 1962
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington

Businessman Gabe Newell is the co-founder and president of the video game developer and digital distribution company, Valve. As a young man, he worked for Microsoft for several years before he quit to found his own venture. He was inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 2013.

 26 Benoit Mandelbrot

Benoit Mandelbrot
6
Famous As: Mathematician, Economist, Professor, Scientist, Writer, Computer scientist
Birthdate: November 20, 1924
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Warsaw
Died: October 14, 2010

Noted mathematician and polymath, Benoit B. Mandelbrot is perhaps best known for his work on fractal. He not only coined the term, but also used computer-constructed images to illustrate the mathematical definition. Also credited with the discovery of Mandelbrot set and Mandelbrot law, he established that even those things which were apparently chaotic or rough had a "degree of order".

 27 Judea Pearl

Judea Pearl
3
Famous As: Computer Scientist
Birthdate: September 4, 1936
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Tel Aviv, Israel

A.M. Turing Award-winning Israeli-American computer scientist Judea Pearl is known for his work on artificial intelligence and for creating the Bayesian network. He has penned several books on causality, too. He is also known as the father of Daniel Pearl, the journalist who was beheaded by Islamic terrorists in Pakistan.

 28 Alonzo Church

Alonzo Church
3
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher, University teacher, Computer scientist
Birthdate: June 14, 1903
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Washington, D.C.
Died: August 11, 1995

 29 George Dantzig

George Dantzig
6
Famous As: Mathematician, Computer scientist, Statistician
Birthdate: November 8, 1914
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Portland
Died: May 13, 2005

Mathematician George Dantzig, known for his research on linear programming, was the first to develop the simplex method. The National Medal of Science winner was the son of mathematician and linguist Tobias Dantzig. He was associated with RAND Corporation and also taught computer science and operations research at Stanford.

 30 Marvin Minsky

Marvin Minsky
9
Famous As: Mathematician, Computer scientist, University teacher
Birthdate: August 9, 1927
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York City
Died: January 24, 2016

 31 Ginni Rometty

Ginni Rometty
6
Famous As: Businesswomen
Birthdate: July 29, 1957
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Chicago Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

Former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty was named to the World's Top 50 Women in Tech by Forbes in 2018. She led IBM through its conversion to a leading data company. The Northwestern University alumna has also earned the Edison Achievement Award. She became part of Time 100 in 2012.

 32 Shawn Fanning

Shawn Fanning
5
Famous As: Computer scientist, Programmer
Birthdate: November 22, 1980
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Brockton

Computer programmer and entrepreneur Shawn Fanning revolutionized the world of information technology by developing a program that let users share MP3 copies of music from their personal computers with others on the internet. His invention led to the formation of Napster and got him featured on the cover of Time.

 33 Lawrence Lessig

Lawrence Lessig
9
Famous As: Jurist, Activist, Lawyer, Non-fiction writer, Computer scientist, Politician, Professor
Birthdate: June 3, 1961
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Rapid City

Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig established Creative Commons, a non-profit geared at reducing copyright restrictions, thus helping artists and creative professional share their works legally. A Democrat, he also co-founded Rootstrikers, aimed at combating corruption in Congress. He is also a TED speaker and has penned books such as Lesterland.

 34 Andy Rubin

Andy Rubin
6
Famous As: Computer programmer
Birthdate: 1963 AD
Birthplace: Chappaqua, New York, United States

Andy Rubin earned the nickname Android during his time at Apple due to his obsession with robots and later co-founded Android Inc., becoming its CEO. He worked with Google for 9 years but quit the company amid sexual harassment allegations and an employee walk-out over his supposed exit package.

 35 Douglas Hofstadter

Douglas Hofstadter
3
Famous As: Philosopher, Writer, University teacher, Computer scientist
Birthdate: February 15, 1945
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York City

 36 Andrew Ng

Andrew Ng
9
Famous As: artificial intelligence researcher, computer scientist
Birthdate: 1976 AD
Birthplace: United Kingdom

British-American computer scientist and Stanford professor Andrew Ng is also the co-founder of DeepLearning.AI and Coursera. He is best known for his pioneering initiatives in the areas of online education and machine learning. He was also part of the Google Brain team and has co-authored more than 100 research papers.

 37 Andy Hertzfeld

Andy Hertzfeld
5
Famous As: Computer scientist, Engineer, Programmer
Birthdate: April 6, 1953
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Philadelphia

Andy Hertzfeld is an innovator and software engineer. During the 1980s, Hertzfeld was one of the members of the Apple Macintosh development team. He is also credited with co-founding companies like Radius, General Magic, and Eazel. From 2005 to 2013, he contributed to the development of Google+. Elden Henson and Michael Stuhlbarg portrayed him in Jobs and Steve Jobs respectively.

 38 Geoffrey Hinton

Geoffrey Hinton
3
Famous As: Computer scientist
Birthdate: December 6, 1947
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wimbledon

 39 Ed Boon

Ed Boon
3
Famous As: Programmer, Engineer, Screenwriter, Computer scientist
Birthdate: February 22, 1964
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chicago

 40 Tommy Rettig

Tommy Rettig
3
Famous As: Child Actor
Birthdate: December 10, 1941
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Jackson Heights, New York, United States
Died: February 15, 1996

 41 Adi Shamir

Adi Shamir
5
Famous As: Mathematician, Cryptologist, Computer scientist
Birthdate: July 6, 1952
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Tel Aviv

Turing Award-winning Israeli cryptographer Adi Shamir is one of the co-inventors of RSA encryption. He also owns patents to more than a dozen more inventions. He has been associated with the University of Warwick and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and has also taught at the Weizmann Institute.

 42 Max Levchin

Max Levchin
7
Famous As: Computer scientist, Entrepreneur, Businessperson
Birthdate: July 11, 1975
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kyiv, Ukraine

Max Levchin is a Ukrainian-American businessman and software engineer. He is credited with co-founding a company named Confinity which eventually became PayPal. Levchin is renowned for making an immense contribution to the company's anti-fraud efforts. Max Levchin is also credited with co-founding or founding companies like Affirm, HVF, and Slide.com.

 43 Edsger W. Dijkstra

Edsger W. Dijkstra
8
Famous As: Computer scientist
Birthdate: May 11, 1930
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: August 6, 2002

 44 Nick Bostrom

Nick Bostrom
3
Famous As: Philosopher, University teacher, Computer scientist
Birthdate: March 10, 1973
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Helsingborg

 45 Niklaus Wirth

Niklaus Wirth
3
Famous As: Computer Scientist
Birthdate: February 15, 1934
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Winterthur, Switzerland

 46 Sudha Murty

Sudha Murty
3
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: August 19, 1950
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Shiggaon, Haveri, Karnataka, India

Known for her humility and simplicity, Indian philanthropist and author Sudha Murty had humble beginnings as a TELCO engineer. She is married to Infosys co-founder Narayan Murty and heads the Infosys Foundation. The Padma Shri winner has penned over 200 titles, such as Dollar Bahu, in both Kannada and English.

 47 Sophie Wilson

Sophie Wilson
7
Famous As: computer scientist
Birthdate: 1957 AD
Birthplace: Leeds

 48 Chris Metzen

Chris Metzen
3
Famous As: Artist, Comics artist, Novelist, Writer, Screenwriter, Voice actor, Visual artist, Author, Computer scientist, Science fiction writer
Birthdate: November 22, 1973
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: United States of America

 49 Walter O'Brien

Walter O'Brien
15
Famous As: Business Person
Birthdate: February 24, 1975
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: County Wexford, Ireland

 50 Timnit Gebru

Timnit Gebru
3
Famous As: Computer scientist
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Ethiopia