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Top Programmers in the World of All Time

Last Updated : 23 Jan, 2023
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We are living today in a world where everything is possible using technology introduced by great programmers. If you are a programmer or do coding you might have inspired or influenced by some of the legendary programmers and you might have been aware of their exceptional work as well. 

Top Programmers of the World

There is no doubt that these programmers’innovation and contribution changed our lifestyle in the modern era. Coding might be a tough task for normal programmers but it is the simplest thing to innovate something and this simplest thing can make you a great person if you try hard. We are going to tell you about some legendary programmers, their imagination, innovation, and incredible work in the software programming world. 

1. Dennis Ritchie: Dennis Ritchie “Father of the C programming language” who also created UNIX operating system along with his long-time colleague Ken Thompson. He was an American Computer Scientist. In 1983 he received the Turing Award from the ACM, the Hamming Medal in 1990 from the IEEE and in 1999 the National Medal of Technology from President Clinton. Ritchie was the head of the Lucent Technologies System Software Research Department when he retired in 2007. 
Modern computing would not have existed without Dennis Ritchie, Without C there is no UNIX, Windows, Linux, C++, Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, MacOSX, Playstation, Xbox and a lot of software and devices. 90% of applications in the world are written in C and that’s the reason Dennis Ritchie deserves a lot of respect. 

UNIX is basically a simple operating system, but you have to be a genius to understand the simplicity 
– Dennis Ritchie 

2. Linus Torvalds: Linus Benedict Torvalds is a Finnish American software engineer. He is the founder and coordinator of the Linux kernel Operating system which he created in his dorm room at the University of Helsinki. He also created the distributed control system Git(Open Source) which is used worldwide now. In 1998 Linus was honoured with Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Pioneer Award, In 1999 he received ‘one of the top 100 innovators, under the age of 35’ in the world’ by MIT Technology Review TR100, in 2000 he received Lovelace Medal, by British Computer Society, in 2012 he was the recipient of the Millennium Technology Prize. An interesting fact about him is that everyone in his family (other than those from his maternal side) were journalists but he preferred something else. 

In open-source, we feel strongly that to really do something well, you have to get a lot of people involved. 
– Linus Torvalds 

3. Bjarne Stroustrup: Bjarne Stroustrup is a Danish computer scientist. He invented and evolved the most widely used programming language C++ all by himself in Bell Lab. In 2015 Stroustrup won the Senior Dahl–Nygaard Prize, in 2017 he received Faraday Medal by Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), he was the winner of the 2018 Computer Pioneer Award of the IEEE Computer Society and recently he received an honourary doctorate from the University Carlos III, Spain. Currently, he is working as a Professor and holder of the College of Engineering Chair in Computer Science at Texas A&M University, a visiting professor at Columbia University, and works at Morgan Stanley as a Managing Director. 

“C makes it easy to shoot yourself in the foot; C++ makes it harder, but when you do it blows your whole leg off.” 
-Bjarne Stroustrup 

4. James Gosling: Dr. James Arthur Gosling is the Canadian computer scientist, an officer of the order of Canada and well known for the ‘Father of Java programming language’. He created the mainframe for Java also implemented the original compiler and virtual machine. James also contributed to several other software systems, such as NeWS and Gosling Emacs. He was elected to Foreign Associate member of the United States National Academy of Engineering for his extraordinary work. 

I think it would be a tragic statement of the universe if Java was the last language that swept through. 
– James Gosling 

5. Tim Berners-Lee: “Tim” Berners-Lee is also known as “TimBL,” is a British computer scientist and is popularly known for 3 fundamental technologies HTML, URL, and HTTP. He was the one who introduced World Wide Web to us in 1989 and implemented the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol client and server via the Internet. Tim has won multiple awards for his incredible work. He was one of five Internet and Web pioneers who have been awarded the inaugural Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering. He received the 2016 ACM Turing Award for inventing the World Wide Web. Lee is the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), senior researcher and holder of the Founders Chair at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. 


The Web does not just connect machines, it connects people. 
– Tim Berners-Lee 

6. Donald Knuth: Donald Ervin Knuth is an American computer scientist, mathematician, and Professor Emeritus(retired) at Stanford University. He has earned the title of the “Father of the analysis of algorithms” because of his contribution to the development of the rigorous analysis of the computational complexity of algorithms and systematized formal mathematical techniques for it. He is the author of the multi-volume work “The Art of Computer Programming”. He is also known for the invention of the TeX computer typesetting system and the METAFONT font definition language and rendering system. In 1971 he received the first ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award. He has also received the Turing award in 1974, The National Medal of Science in 1979 and many more awards. 


If you optimize everything, you will always be unhappy. 
– Donald Knuth 

7. Ken Thompson: Kenneth Lane Thompson is an American pioneer of computer science and he is well known for the design and implementation of the original UNIX operating system. Thompson spent most of his career at Bell Labs and also invented B programming language which is the direct predecessor to the C programming language. He was one of the early developers of the Plan 9 operating systems. Thompson has worked at Google, where he co-invented the Go programming language. He received the Turing award (1983), IEEE Richard W. Hamming Medal (1990), National Medal of Technology (1999) from President Bill Clinton, all for the implementation of the UNIX operating system and C language. 


When in doubt, use brute force. 
– Ken Thompson 

8. Brian Wilson Kernighan: Brian Kernighan is a Canadian computer scientist who worked at Bell Labs and contributed to the development of Unix alongside Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie. He is the coauthor of the AWK and AMPL programming languages. Kernighan became famous by co-authoring the very first book on the C programming language. Since 2000 Kernighan has held a professorship in the Department of Computer Science at Princeton University. 


Controlling complexity is the essence of computer programming 
-Brian Wilson Kernighan 

9. Richard Stallman: Richard Matthew Stallman is an American programmer and a software freedom activist. To solve the issue of software patents he establishes the idea of free software and he campaigns for software to be distributed in a manner such that its users receive the freedoms to use, study, distribute and modify that software. He is known for developing the GNU Compiler Collection and GNU Emacs. He also wrote the GNU General Public License. In 1990 he received MacArthur Fellowship (“genius grant”) award, in 1998 Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award, in 2015 ACM Software System Award for the development and leadership of GCC. 

Free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept you should think of ‘free’ as in ‘free speech, ‘ not as in ‘free beer.’ 
– Richard Matthew Stallman 

10. Guido van Rossum: Guido van Rossum is a Dutch computer programmer who is known for the invention of popular programming language Python. He is declared a “Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL)” in the Python community which means he continues to oversee Python development, making decisions where necessary, forever. He developed this language when he was employed in Google from 2005 until 2012. Van Rossum received the 2001 Award for the Advancement of Free Software from the Free Software Foundation (FSF) for his work on Python. Currently, he is working at Dropbox. 

If you decide to design your own language, there are thousands of sort of amateur language designer pitfalls. 
– Guido van Rossum 


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