Famous American Computer Scientists

Find out more about the greatest American Computer Scientists, including Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Grace Hopper, Donald Knuth and Ken Jennings.

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

Vote for Your Favourite American Computer Scientists

 1 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.

 2 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.

 3 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.

 4 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.

 5 Vint Cerf

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

 6 Ken Thompson

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

 7 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.

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 8 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

 9 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.

 10 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.

 11 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.

 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 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.

 14 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.

 15 Alan Kay

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

 16 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.

 17 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.

 18 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.

 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 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.

 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 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.

 23 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.

 24 Leslie Lamport

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

 25 David Filo

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

 26 Ed Boon

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

 27 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

 28 Nick Szabo

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

 29 Douglas Hofstadter

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

 30 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.

 31 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.

 32 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

 33 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.

 34 James H. Clark

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

 35 Edmund McMillen

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

 36 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.

 37 David Packard

David Packard
3
Famous As: Entrepreneur, Engineer, Computer scientist
Birthdate: September 7, 1912
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Pueblo
Died: March 26, 1996

 38 Thomas J. Watson

Thomas J. Watson
3
Famous As: Entrepreneur
Birthdate: February 17, 1874
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Campbell, New York, United States
Died: June 19, 1956

 39 George Hotz

George Hotz
9
Famous As: Blogger, Programmer, Computer scientist
Birthdate: October 2, 1989
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Glen Rock, New Jersey

Known online as Geohot, George Francis Hotz is an American security hacker and software engineer, who at the age of seventeen became the first person to hack Apple’s iPhone. Later, he developed iOS jailbreaks and became the first person to crack a defense system in Sony PlayStation 3. Currently, he is working at comma.ai, a startup he founded in 2015.

 40 Jaron Lanier

Jaron Lanier
31
Famous As: Computer scientist, Composer
Birthdate: May 3, 1960
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

 41 Hans Reiser

Hans Reiser
3
Famous As: Programmer, Entrepreneur, Computer scientist, Homicide
Birthdate: December 19, 1963
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: California

 42 Edwin Catmull

Edwin Catmull
3
Famous As: Computer scientist, Engineer
Birthdate: March 31, 1945
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Parkersburg

 43 Luis von Ahn

Luis von Ahn
3
Famous As: Entrepreneur
Birthdate: August 9, 1978
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Guatemala City, Guatemala

 44 Bill Joy

Bill Joy
3
Famous As: Computer scientist, co-founded Sun Microsystems
Birthdate: November 8, 1954
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Farmington Hills, Michigan, United States

 45 Ward Cunningham

Ward Cunningham
3
Famous As: Programmer, Computer scientist
Birthdate: May 26, 1949
Sun Sign: Gemini
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 Hilary Putnam

Hilary Putnam
3
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher
Birthdate: July 31, 1926
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: March 13, 2016

 48 Andrew Ng

Andrew Ng
13
Famous As: Computer scientist known for artificial Intelligence, deep learning, MOOC, education technology
Birthdate: April 18, 1976
Sun Sign: Aries
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.

 49 Whitfield Diffie

Whitfield Diffie
2
Famous As: Cryptographer and one of the pioneers of public-key cryptography along with Martin Hellman and Ralph Merkle
Birthdate: June 5, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

 50 Daniel Kottke

Daniel Kottke
3
Famous As: Computer scientist, Engineer
Birthdate: April 4, 1954
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bronxville