Famous 20th Century Computer Scientists

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 1 Alan Turing

Alan Turing
42
Famous As: Father of Theoretical Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence
Birthdate: June 23, 1912
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Maida Vale, 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.

 2 Steve Wozniak

Steve Wozniak
6
Famous As: Co-founder of 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.

 3 John von Neumann

John von Neumann
14
Famous As: Mathematician, Computer Scientist, Physicist
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.
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 4 Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper
27
Famous As: Computer Scientist
Birthdate: December 9, 1906
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
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.

 5 Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee
28
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.

 6 Claude Shannon

Claude Shannon
8
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.

 7 Vint Cerf

Vint Cerf
8
Famous As: Computer scientist
Birthdate: June 23, 1943
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New Haven, Connecticut, United States
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 8 Ken Thompson

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

 9 Dennis Ritchie

Dennis Ritchie
15
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.

 10 John McCarthy

John McCarthy
7
Famous As: Mathematician, Computer scientist, Engineer, University teacher
Birthdate: September 4, 1927
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Boston
Died: October 24, 2011

 11 Shigeru Miyamoto

Shigeru Miyamoto
29
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.

 12 Marvin Minsky

Marvin Minsky
11
Famous As: Mathematician, Computer scientist, University teacher
Birthdate: August 9, 1927
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York City
Died: January 24, 2016

 13 Tony Hoare

Tony Hoare
7
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.

 14 Alan Kay

Alan Kay
9
Famous As: Computer Scientist
Birthdate: May 17, 1940
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Springfield, Massachusetts

 15 Vitalik Buterin

Vitalik Buterin
11
Famous As: Computer scientist
Birthdate: January 31, 1994
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kolomna, Russia

 16 James Gosling

James Gosling
13
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 Bjarne Stroustrup

Bjarne Stroustrup
13
Famous As: Computer scientist, Engineer, Scientist, Programmer, Writer, University teacher
Birthdate: December 30, 1950
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Aarhus

Bjarne Stroustrup is a Danish computer scientist best known for his invention and development of the popular C++ general-purpose programming language. He is currently working as a managing director at Morgan Stanley in New York, apart from serving as a visiting professor at the prestigious Columbia University. 

 18 Gabe Newell

Gabe Newell
17
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.

 19 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.

 20 Margaret Hamilton

Margaret Hamilton
10
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.

 21 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.

 22 Richard Stallman

Richard Stallman
11
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 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.

 24 Guido van Rossum

Guido van Rossum
11
Famous As: Creator of the Python programming language
Birthdate: January 31, 1956
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Haarlem, 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.

 25 Leslie Lamport

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

 26 George Dantzig

George Dantzig
6
Famous As: Mathematician, Computer scientist, Statistician
Birthdate: November 8, 1914
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Portland, Oregon, United States
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.

 27 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.

 28 Bill Gates

Bill Gates
18
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.

 29 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

 30 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.

 31 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.

 32 Niklaus Wirth

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

Turing Award-winning Swiss computer scientist Niklaus Wirth revolutionized information technology with his invention of computer languages such as ALGOL-W, PASCAL, and MODULA. He has also taught at Stanford and ETH Zürich and penned a number of books on algorithms and data structures. He has also popularized Wirth's law.

 33 Geoffrey Hinton

Geoffrey Hinton
7
Famous As: Computer scientist
Birthdate: December 6, 1947
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wimbledon

After gaining a degree in psychology, Geoffrey Hinton earned a PhD in artificial intelligence. The Google VP is a Turing Award-winning computer scientist and also teaches at the University of Toronto. A Fellow of the Royal Society, he has revolutionized neural network research and has co-written about 200 papers.

 34 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

A pioneering computer scientist from the Netherlands, Edsger W. Dijkstra had initially studied theoretical physics, before focusing on computers. He developed the domain of structured programming and also won honors such as the Turing Award. He died at 72, after a long struggle with cancer.

 35 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.

 36 Andy Rubin

Andy Rubin
8
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.

 37 David Filo

David Filo
5
Famous As: Entrepreneur, Businessperson, Merchant, Computer scientist
Birthdate: April 20, 1966
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Wisconsin

 38 Sophie Wilson

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

The brain behind the Acorn Micro-Computer, Sophie Wilson also contributed to the BBC Micro and ARM architecture. During her first summer vacation at Cambridge, she designed an automated cow-feeder. Born Roger Wilson, she went through a sex-change surgery in 1994. She is also associated with local theater groups.

 39 Ed Boon

Ed Boon
5
Famous As: Programmer, Engineer, Screenwriter, Computer scientist
Birthdate: February 22, 1964
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chicago

 40 Walter O'Brien

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

Irish IT expert and entrepreneur Walter O'Brien produced the CBS action-drama TV series Scorpion, which was inspired by his life. It is believed he established Scorpion Computer Services at age 13 and had an IQ of 197 as a child, though many such claims by him remain unproved.

 41 Nick Szabo

Nick Szabo
5
Famous As: Computer scientist
Birthdate: 1970 AD
Birthplace: america

 42 Douglas Hofstadter

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

 43 Lawrence Lessig

Lawrence Lessig
11
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.

 44 Sergey Brin

Sergey Brin
16
Famous As: Co-founder of Google
Birthdate: August 21, 1973
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
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.

 45 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

 46 Ivan Sutherland

Ivan Sutherland
4
Famous As: Computer scientist
Birthdate: May 16, 1938
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hastings, Nebraska, United States

 47 Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh
8
Famous As: Entrepreneur
Birthdate: December 12, 1973
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Illinois

Tony Hsieh showed his entrepreneurial spirit since his Harvard days, when he managed a pizza delivery outlet for his dorm. He later founded the Las Vegas-based online shoe and clothing retailer Zappos. He tragically died from smoke inhalation at a house fire during Thanksgiving, shortly before turning 47.

 48 James H. Clark

James H. Clark
5
Famous As: Computer scientist
Birthdate: March 23, 1944
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Plainview, Texas, United States

 49 Edmund McMillen

Edmund McMillen
3
Famous As: Video game developer, Computer scientist
Birthdate: March 2, 1980
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Santa Cruz

 50 Paul Buchheit

Paul Buchheit
9
Famous As: Computer Engineer
Birthdate: November 7, 1977
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Webster, New York, United States

Paul Buchheit is an American entrepreneur and computer engineer. He is credited with creating Gmail and developing a prototype of Google AdSense. In 2007, he launched FriendFeed, which was later acquired by Facebook. In 2011, Paul Buchheit was honored with the Economist Innovation Award. Also a noted philanthropist, Paul Buchheit has made donations to several health organizations.