Stack OverflowWho in the software world do you admire the most?
[+62] [281] David McGraw
[2008-08-13 07:38:15]
[ history inspiration computer-scientist ]

In an effort to spark some discussion and to find interesting people that I didn't know about, is there anybody around the software industry that you really admire? Perhaps admire is the wrong choice of word, but I'm sure there is somebody out there that has impacted you in a minor way.

What did you learn from this individual that defines what you try to achieve today?

(3) Most of these answers strike me in the same way an artist might say the guy who invented paint was most influential in the development of their craft. Anyone can drop names of the founders of computer science, but who really inspired you to be better at what you do? That's what I'd like to know. - Bryan Oakley
Should we down-vote the people who ignore the "One person per answer." rule? - Charles Roper
(1) I think it's a pity that this is the question that's closed when it's clearer -- and imho better -- rules for responses (one person per answer, no dupes). I realise this question came later than 9545, but still... :-/ - Mal Ross
Further reading: ACM's Turing Award ( - Oddthinking
(4) I think Stack overflow needs a search within thread feature. Then you can more easily search for duplicate answers. - Cervo
Re-opened this thread. Too close happy, this is as legitimate a question as many others and it is interesting to a lot of people. - Simucal
I would also argue that when deciding to close a post for being a duplicate, we should close the ~less successful~ post. This one had 4x the views and several times the answer votes as the "original". - Simucal
Yea, this shouldn't be closed. - George Stocker
can this question be retagged not-programming-related, or offtopic please? - FryGuy
Closed because we have had this question before :-) Sorry should have read the comments before closing. Will not be so click happy in the future. - Martin York
Oh fine one person per answer was not in the original version.... - Friedrich
[+184] [2008-09-25 12:37:42] Kris Kumler [ACCEPTED]

Donald Knuth [1] deserves a mention among many.


(2) I couldn't believe that any person could write and debug the innumerable and complex algorithms in those volumes in less than one lifetime. He is slowing down though. I understand that volume 5, Syntactic Algorithms, is projected to be ready in 2015. - lkessler
(1) Reckon we can place bets with someone as to whether he will complete the 7 Volumes he intended to write? He'll be 77 in 2015! - _ande_turner_
+1 went to same high school - dotjoe
Paul wrote letters to the Corinthians. Mohammed wrote the words of Gabriel. Knuth speaks the language of Silicon. - WOPR
[+169] [2008-09-25 12:51:33] Ed Guiness

Alan Turing [1], the father of modern computer science.


I second that. Its a shame that he was pushed to step out. - Gamecat
Have you read Charles Petzold's book ( - Jim Anderson
+1. One of the most brilliant, tragic human beings of modern times. - Dan Vinton
+1, Alan Turing has always been my favorite Computer Scientist of all time. - jlafay
[+119] [2008-09-25 12:27:51] Manrico Corazzi

John Carmack [1], I daresay.


(2) If you haven't read it, I have to recommend Masters of Doom. It's a really good read, and inspiring too. - Max Howell
I agree, this is a really good book. - Orentet
(8) Not only is he a brilliant, brilliant programmer (achievements inclde real time 3d games prior to the existence of hardware depth buffering, lightmapping and various other things we now take for granted), but he is very open with his company's research & technology. id has committed to releasing the source of id tech 4, just as they've done with previous engines. A lot of companies in this field will patent the ass off anything that moves. Instead, Carmack shares/gives it away. Total respect for that man! - Mark Simpson
[+116] [2008-09-25 12:41:36] Michael Haren

Edsger Dijkstra [1]


[+114] [2008-09-25 12:53:07] jacko

Martin Fowler [1]

Probably the person with the strongest influence on recent development trends like design patterns, agile methodologies.

Wikipedia [2]


Indeed a great man. - Manrico Corazzi
ditto. He has had the greatest impact on my development skills thus far - mezoid
[+112] [2008-09-25 13:44:08] troethom

Anders Hejlsberg [1]; Turbo Pascal, Delphi, J++ and not least C# and the Microsoft .NET framework.


(2) Amen! Anders is one of my favorite people in the business. He designs languages that just fit like a glove with sensibilities. Delphi was the first language I learned that taught me to actually love programming. I owe him my career. - Wing
Anders seems to just have a knack of knowing how to build languages that people want. Delphi and C# just 'feel' right. - Craig
(1) I can't in good conscience vote for someone who's name I can't pronounce. - WOPR
Kieran: AFAIK it's pronounced like Heylesberg (where the first 'e' is pronounced like the 'a' in bag) - DrJokepu
Anders is a legend and a true inspiration to all developers. He is what got me into programming and through the years, from his days at Borland, I've followed him. What a guy! - PieterG
@WOPR: It's pronounced "and-urs". - Larry Lustig
[+99] [2008-09-25 12:54:33] James Dean

Guido van Rossum [1], Benevolent Dictator for Life, Python.


[+90] [2008-09-25 12:36:25] Kevin

Steve McConnell [1]


Steve is brilliant. I think that he's more of a Guru than a Programmer...John Carmack, on the other hand, is a HACKER/CODER/DEVELOPER/PROGRAMMER, you know? - Scott Hanselman
Carmack is billiant, but Steve I think is better because he approaches programming as an engineering discipline. Steve is really the one who showed me why there's a process to build software and how do to use it. Carmack's cool, he but doesn't inspire me to be better at what I do. - Kevin
+1 I live the book Code complete. It helps me a lot. - Tanmoy
+1. Steve McConnell has had a major influence on how software is written - Mitch Wheat
The sheer amount of previously unspoken 'common sense' distilled in Code Complete is staggering. Seriously. It's about 1000 pages long and there's pretty much no meandering or filler. Not only did I learn a lot from it, but it heightened my awareness of and solidified my understanding of practices that I already followed. - Mark Simpson
[+87] [2008-09-26 20:52:43] Michał Piaskowski

Richard Stallman [1]


(2) I may not agree on everything but he definitely deserves respect. Plus the GNU compiler collection is very cool. - Cervo
(6) Stallman is just like Torvalds... too self-smug to deserve my respect. - IDisposable
RMS <3 haha - John T
RMS is tooo cool. torvalds is teh self-smugger - Johannes Schaub - litb
(1) Self-smug? A man who gave himself RSI for YOUR freedoms? - slim
Fat, smug and a misanthrope. The perfect programmer. - WOPR
(7) I'm glad this is CW so I can downvote RMS without hurting anyone's rep. Anyone so self-centered that he has to flame people who don't refer to Linux in his way, will never get my admiration. - rlbond
(1) What Cervo said. - Paul Nathan
[+86] [2008-09-25 13:01:10] Dror Helper

Bjarne Stroustrup [1] Who created C84 - what we know as C++.


(4) Hmmm I'm not so sure creating C++ makes him a hero exactly... :) I'm undecided on that fact. - Cervo
(2) He told me once that C++ is the only programming language used on another planet, referring to the mars rovers. That got a rise out of the audience. - Karl
(2) > No, C++ is not the most elegant, clearest language, but Bjarne did strive for staying close to the metal, great for us high-performance programmers. - DarenW
(1) judging from the mess that C++ is, I'd say the person who made it is no where near a hero! - hasen j
C64 Basic was far superior. - WOPR
(4) Given all this critique, it's strange that C++ is one of the most successful languages of all times.. - sharkin
(4) @hasen j Yep, you're smarter guy for sure. Start some reading before writing such things. - Piotr Dobrogost
(2) sharkin: How do you measure success? Just by number of users? Then the Communist Party of China is one of the most successful parties of all time, and genital mutilation is one of the most successful medical operations of all time. :-) - Ken
[+80] [2008-09-25 13:09:15] mortenbpost

Scott Hanselman [1] - very visible and present in the community within the field I work. Exceptional knowledge sharing via blogs, interviews, forums, etc. Getting a lot of inspiration from this guy.


Care to mention which field this is? - Torsten Marek
Everything MS related - John Sheehan
ASP.NET. He is in MVC team. - Brian Kim
For consistency with other posts, you should link his name to his blog. - Chris Porter
And he is here too: ;-) - Fabrizio C.
[+80] [2008-08-13 07:59:47] Mark Harrison

Edsger Dijkstra. I will put together a list of recommended readings from his online archive

How can you not appreciate somebody that can write this:

"It was a type of people I did not know, I found them very strange and they did not inspire confidence at all. Later I learned that I had been introduced to electronic engineers."


Or who has been at this stage on a project:

"I realized that my previous projects had only been agility exercises. I now had to confront complexity itself and try to find out the best way to do difficult things. But it took me a long time to gather the courage to do that. Alan Turing committed suicide; Kurt Gödel was on and off in a mental hospital. I was terribly frightened.... I was essentially incommunicado, hardly spoke, did not work. I would sit all evening silently staring at the white walls in our living room. Finally, one night at half past two, my wife collected me weeping on the carpet in that room. From that moment I realized that something had to be done." -- Turing Award acceptance speech, 1984

~~ Mark Harrison [1] ~~


(32) How can this answer be "accpeted" ? Does this mean that we all need to admire these guys? I don't get it.. - Filip Ekberg
I was wondering the same thing :) - Readonly
(13) "You probably know that arrogance, in computer science, is measured in nanodijkstras." - Andrew Corkery
My only criticism of Dijkstra is that he essentially advocated the waterfall model as the only acceptable software development model. - Eric
(2) "The required techniques of effective reasoning are pretty formal, but as long as programming is done by people that don't master them, the software crisis will remain with us and will be considered an incurable disease. And you know what incurable diseases do: they invite the quacks and charlatans in, who in this case take the form of Software Engineering gurus." EWD - hiena
(6) @Andrew: nanodijkstra's, of course, are an SI measure. Its spolskys in imperial units. - Juliet
[+79] [2008-09-25 12:41:34] Erikk Ross

Scott Guthrie [1] - He runs several of the dev teams that build the products I use everyday.


ASP.NET, Silverlight, WPF, IIS, VisualStudio and etc. - Brian Kim
[+73] [2008-09-25 12:57:42] Satish Motwani

Good Old Bill Gates [1] !!

He wrote the original BASIC compiler for DOS..


He wrote the original BASIC interpreter for DOS. - ΤΖΩΤΖΙΟΥ
Jeez! Bill Gates co-wrote the original BASIC interpreter for the MITS Altair. - John Topley
@John is right, BASIC predates MS-DOS. - Ed Guiness
But he did write them both... - Tall Jeff
(3) He bought MS-DOS... - Berzemus
(1) Well he bought A DOS... adding MS to it was the tricky part. - _ande_turner_
He also wrote a scheduling program I think for his high school - perhaps when he was still in high school. I need to double check on that. - Tim
Imagine how cool it was to find a microcomputer BASIC that worked like the minicomputer version. Especially, real record I/O! - gbarry
[+72] [2008-09-25 12:27:36] Gulzar

Mark Russinovich [1]

From wikipedia [2]..

Russinovich is the author of many tools used by Windows NT and Windows 2000 kernel-mode programmers, and of the NTFS filesystem driver for DOS. He is widely regarded as a Windows expert. In 1996, Russinovich discovered that the difference between the workstation and server editions of Windows NT 4.0 comprised solely two values in the Windows Registry.


I am pretty sure 1000's inside MS knew about that difference too! - leppie
I had the pleasure of attending a seminar by him and it was breathtaking! - Antonio Louro
(1) I used to respect him more before his "Oh my God, Daemon Tools has a Rootkit!" campaign. - Constantin
(1) His tools made my life sooooo much easier when I was out doing field support. - Valerion
(1) He is a hero of mine. But blotted his copybook when he sold out to Microsoft. - MaSuGaNa
[+72] [2008-08-13 08:43:41] martinsb

I'm wandering why anybody hasn't mentioned Donald Ervin Knuth [1] yet. Yes, I understand he might not be the first violin in IT nowadays, though I think he's the greatest computer scientist ever. He might be considered as the introducer of analysis of algorithms, he's the author of TeX typesetting (can you imagine describing something we consider "beautiful" in programming language?) and of course TAOCP [2] - in my opinion, a programmer's Bible.


(1) I would mention Donald Knuth as number one. - xpda
I would mention Donald Knuth IS number one - Newtopian
[+69] [2008-09-25 12:30:50] Paul Batum

Steve Yegge. Worked at Amazon for several years and is now at Google. He wrote an internal blog at Amazon that he later made public, I found it educational and also extremely inspiring. It had a significant effect on my growth as a developer.

His current blog [1]

His amazon blog [2] (Better, IMHO)


Steve Yegge blogs are legendary. - Yada
[+62] [2008-09-25 13:07:02] catfood

Larry Wall [1], because he invented Perl and had so much fun doing it. Laziness, impatience, and hubris man. All the way.


He also wrote patch. - ninjalj
[+59] [2008-09-25 15:13:06] ThatBloke

Steve Wozniak [1] wasn't he the father of the PC (graphical interface, mouse, floppy drive). If what I read is correct he did most of the development in his head cos he didn't have the money to buy the hardware.


(2) He is truly a "hero" and you can say that he was one of the first to put all these concepts in consumer product, but the true "father" of the mouse was Douglas Engelbart :-) - Rui Vieira
+1...missed him on my list :) - epatel
The question is about who was most influential in the development of your craft. If you don't really know what Woz did, how can he have been an influence on you? Maybe he wrote the tools you use but I don't think that's what the question is all about. - Bryan Oakley
I think Steve was more influential with the Apple I and Apple II than later developments like the Mac. But he was a true genius still. - Craig
There is an interview with him on the early days of Apple in this book: ( It was one inspiring read. - utku_karatas
(1) No, he certainly is not the father of PC nor any other things you mentioned. - Mladen Jankovic
[+56] [2008-08-13 08:06:48] IainMH

Anders Hejlsberg.

With C# I think he's shown an outstanding combination of knowledge, skill, pragmatism and leadership.

You mean by introducing LINQ and then abandoning it because of EF ? Or do you mean by copy java and all the other languages. - mP
(15) That's the most blatant flamebait I've seen on here. Well done. - IainMH
(1) @ MP - Who abandoned LINQ? - Omar
Yeah, Linq hasn't been abandoned, has it? More and more people are beginning to use it. In the last month, I've noticed alot more Linq-related questions here on S/O. Why would they abandon something so popular? - Lucifer
Linq clearly hasn't been abandoned, I think @mp is confusing Linq with Linq to SQL. - richeym
[+56] [2008-10-22 23:23:34] snoopy

Tim Berners-Lee [1], who, as an independent contractor, invented the web!

No patents, no royalties. No attempt to cash in!


(2) ahem, I think Al Gore would like some credit as well - Jean-Bernard Pellerin
[+55] [2008-09-25 13:35:02] Bryan Oakley

Brian Kernighan [1], through his writing of Software Tools, Elements of Programming Style and others.


[+51] [2008-09-26 23:59:14] Wedge

John von Neumann [1]


[+50] [2008-09-26 21:19:36] Chris Ammerman

Countess Ada Lovelace [1] - 19th century female mathematician. Regarded by many as "the first programmer", for devising algorithms for Babbage [2]'s theoretical analytical engine [3]. Eponym of the Ada programming language [4].


... and I named my daughter after her (among other reasons). :) - Mark Reid
Imagined the concept of abstracting numbers into ideas. To do what she did in her time was astounding. Proof that knowledge, skill, and talent know no boundaries. - Covar
[+49] [2008-09-25 13:07:16] Galwegian

Alan Kay [1] for sure!


Indeed, can't understand how Alan Kay doesn't have more votes!!! - fmsf
Without a doubt!!! - Sean
[+47] [2008-09-25 12:54:06] Ed Guiness

Douglas Hofstadter [1], mainly for writing Godel, Escher, Bach [2]


[+44] [2008-08-13 16:15:30] Nate Smith

Richard Stallman. The guy is a little cracked out at times, but his impact on the software world is indisputable. He wrote emacs. He started the GNU project. The GPL will be a lasting legacy. I admire the man's (sometimes insane) conviction as much as his accomplishments.

(13) A only a little cracked out?? - Factor Mystic
Stallman shows up in nearly every CS webcomic. I mean, that should say something ^^. - Helper Method
(3) The man thinks that a server should be rootable "for the common good" seriously? (check out the GNU su/sudo/wheel debate) - Earlz
(2) Yeah, that wheel thing is just crazy. -1 for that. Oh, and I wish I could give another -1 for the fact that when you first run emacs it asks if you want to read about free software! WTF? No, I don't want read about free software, I want to edit my file! - Evgeny
+1 @Evgeny : (setq inhibit-startup-message t) - Eddy Pronk
[+43] [2008-09-25 12:57:54] Rulas

Miguel de Icaza [1]


A lot of people villify him, but I am with you. His contributions are staggering and amazing. - MikeJ
Yeah. Let's make this a GNOME vs. KDE thread ;-) - xmjx
An inspiration for mexican software developers, for sure! - Mario Ortegón
[+43] [2008-09-25 14:17:54] community_owned

John McCarthy [1], for inventing Lisp...


s/inventing/discovering/ - user9282
Lisp invented itself. McCarthy merely (realised(it(was(there)))(.)) - Peter Wone
[+42] [2008-09-25 13:12:20] Jon

The Gang of Four [1], for their design pattern book.


(1) I don't know if I love them or hate them, but for sure I use those damned patterns everyday... Strategies anyone? - Mario Ortegón
[+36] [2008-08-13 07:45:55] Mark Harrison

I was greatly influenced by all the old-school Bell Labs guys:

  • Dennis Ritchie
  • Ken Thompson
  • Brian Kernighan
  • P.J. Plaugher
  • Rob Pike
  • Jon Bentley

From these guys I learned economical programming on modest hardware, the importance of being able to write well and explain your ideas, and taking care to craft your programs beautifully. In addition to being awesome programmers, their collective books will stand the ages and instruct generations of programmers.

One in particular is less known than he ought to be:

  • Doug McIllroy

Who invented the concept of pipes, and who many of the above say is the smartest guy in the room. Here are some Doug McIllroy facts:

  • Doug McIlroy can handle SIGKILL.
  • Doug McIlroy can hard-link across devices.
  • In 1984, the Department of Justice broke up AT&T because they had a monopoly. On Doug McIlroy.

And Ken and Dennis were also pioneers and major contributers to advancements in Computer Chess. - lkessler
+1 just for the last fact - RCIX
And I guess Doug McIlroy can also handle SIGSTOP. - ninjalj
[+34] [2008-09-25 13:38:03] Manrico Corazzi

Yukihiro Matsumoto [1] (aka Matz)


Can't believe Matz hasn't garnered more votes. - Charles Roper
Well, SO is no reddit. So far... - Jacek Szymański
[+33] [2008-09-25 13:36:54] Manrico Corazzi

What about Kent Beck [1]?


See also: - Peter Hilton
[+30] [2008-08-13 13:29:00] HoboBen

I love Paul Graham's essays [1]

Donald Knuth, Alan Cox, Linus Torvalds, Richard Stallman (whatever your opinion on RMS, he's quite a character!)

There are a few more, but I'm awful with names. I also admire Jeff and Joel, obviously.


Here here! :) nicely put! - Ric Tokyo
[+29] [2008-09-25 12:52:53] Zsolt Botykai

Bram Moolenaar

Seconded, with a vengeance. Vim is one of the best pieces of software I've encountered. - Brian Carper
You should have a look at the source code. Eventhough I love vim, the code written for it makes Bram unqualified for Programming Hero in my opinion. - Bluebird75
Bram for President! - ojblass
[+28] [2008-09-26 20:48:06] Peter Provost

No question in my mind: Ward Cunningham [1]

He can be thought of as the grandfather of agile, is the creator of Fit, CRC cards and is one of those amazing people to talk to, learn from and have a beer with.


Too bad I can only vote for Ward once, or else I'd use my 30 votes today on him. :) - Brad Wilson
He is also the developer/creator of the first ever wiki software, WikiWikiWeb. A significant and influential achievement. - Ray Vega
+1 wish I could vote for Ward many times too ... great contribution to XP / agile AND inventing Wiki! - interstar
[+27] [2008-08-13 17:11:23] David

Bjarne Stroustrup [1] for developing my favourite language: C++


(1) Without him we would probably not have C# either. - Jonas Rindberg
(11) no. this is about c++. take your c# with you when you leave - Matt Joiner
[+25] [2008-09-25 12:58:46] rpfnovak

Josh Bloch [1]; made me realize after several years of writing in Java that I was taking way too many shortcuts.


[+23] [2008-08-13 07:51:01] KiwiBastard

Gotta be the Gu (Scott Guthrie) - his blog posts are epic, also highly respect Anders (Hejlsberg), especially as I have a Delphi background.

Otherwise, I have worked with a lot of really good guys over the years, and some not so good ones, that make you respect the good ones that much more!

With all his other responsibilities, I can't understand where scottgu finds the time to maintain such a great blog. He's a machine! - Dubs
[+22] [2008-08-27 07:59:14] Mike Stone

Linus Torvalds is my hero for his affect on the OSS world, and his book Just For Fun makes me dream of writing an application 1/10th as significant as Linux.

Besides him, Yukihiro Matsumoto (aka Matz) changed my programming life by creating Ruby. I'm surprised nobody mentioned him yet actually. He wrote a programming language with the goal of the language being fun to use (for him at the very least), and I strongly believe he achieved that goal. I just wish I could understand Japanese so I could read writings or listen to speeches of his in his native tongue.

There are many others I respect for their work and writing, but those 2 are probably my favorite for making things that I adore.

+1 Thanks to Linus we are already using a free OS instead of still waiting for Hurd kernel to be released. :) - abababa22
[+21] [2008-09-10 21:17:36] TiTi

Someone aldready said his name : John Carmack

He is the co-founder of id Software and well known for his optimizations like the magical inverse float square root implementation in quake 3 : (notice : no loop !!)

float Q_rsqrt( float number ){
    long i;
    float x2, y;
    const float threehalfs = 1.5F;

    x2 = number * 0.5F;
    y  = number;
    i  = * ( long * ) &y;  // evil floating point bit level hacking
    i  = 0x5f3759df - ( i >> 1 ); // wtf?
    y  = * ( float * ) &i;
    y  = y * ( threehalfs - ( x2 * y * y ) ); // 1st iteration
    // y  = y * ( threehalfs - ( x2 * y * y ) ); // 2nd iteration, this can be removed

    #ifndef Q3_VM
    #ifdef __linux__
      assert( !isnan(y) ); // bk010122 - FPE?
    return y;

(14) John Carmack didn't wrote that. The original coder is unknown. Check it out: - MrValdez
(3) even if he didn't.. he created DOOM ! - bobobobo
Am I right in thinking this is an approximation - PeteT
Yes; it's a couple iterations of Newton's method. - Joey Adams
newton-RAPHSON! god i hate it when people leave that out - JGord
[+21] [2008-09-25 14:02:42] Penguinix

Bill Joy [1]

After growing up in suburban Detroit, Michigan, Bill Joy received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan and his M.S. in EECS from UC Berkeley in 1979.[1] Joy's PhD advisor was Robert Fabry.

Joy was largely responsible for the authorship of Berkeley UNIX, also known as BSD, from which spring many modern forms of UNIX, including FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD. Apple Computer has also based much of the Mac OS X operating system line on BSD technology. Some of his most notable contributions were the vi editor, NFS, and the csh shell.

Joy's prowess as a computer programmer is legendary, with an oft-told anecdote that he wrote the vi editor in a weekend. Joy denies this assertion. The mythopoesis continues, with Eric Schmidt, at the time CEO of Novell, while interviewed in PBS's documentary Nerds 2.0.1, inflating the accomplishment to Bill Joy having rewritten BSD in a weekend.


Might be urban legend, but Joy apparently needed some network utilities at one time, so he decided to write a few of his own. A day or two later, they were done. The tools were rlogin, rsh, and rcp. - Graeme Perrow
[+20] [2008-09-25 12:45:08] Bill the Lizard

Grace Hopper [1]


big +1 . If readers don't know who she is, check out her bio on Wikipedia. She was a giant in computing. - Michael Easter
Yay! glad this was here to vote up - fuzzbone
"Every procedure should have exactly one entry and one exit point." Sound familiar? - gbarry
Learn more about her at - Guge
[+20] [2008-08-13 14:13:11] Thomas Owens

I'm surprised no one has even mentioned Steve McConnell. I'm not sure how good of a developer he is, but his books are amazing - he knows his stuff, and presents it well.

Maybe beacause too few people managed to read his brilliant books? - smok1
[+19] [2008-09-26 20:52:44] Nick Sergeant

John [1] Resig [2] should be on this list.


Give it a few years and he'll feature significantly higher in lists of this nature I'm sure :) - jTresidder
I definitely agree with you, Nick. John Resig is the greatest. - Burak Erdem
[+19] [2008-09-26 21:45:01] Chris Pietschmann

Every developer that contributes to the community in some way!

I don't "idolize" any single person. The community just feeds off itself so much these days, and that's inspiration/influence enough!

Why would you vote this down? How could someone disagree to this THAT much?? - Chris Pietschmann
Someone might've thought it was a misinterpretation of the question (asked for a specific person). - Nick Sergeant
I think the same.. there is no ONE great programmer, all of us can make the difference, some more than others but we all are great! :) - unkiwii
You're welcome, Chris. I'm trying my best. LOL! - utku_karatas
[+18] [2008-08-20 17:17:27] Corey

Somebody has to mention Guido Van Rossum [1], creator and Benevolent Dictator for Life of Python.


[+18] [2008-08-27 08:13:21] Phil Bennett

Different name -- but if you read his background you'll realise he's definitely a software guy as well as just hardware.

Steve Wozniak

If you have an hour to burn, watch his talk at Authors@Google. I think he is a joy to listen to: - Dinah
[+18] [2008-10-04 05:56:07] community_owned

Dennis Ritchie [1]--for C and Unix.


[+17] [2008-09-02 10:53:02] Mauli

My hero is Alan Kay, one of the fathers of smalltalk and also more or less the inventor of the notebook.

(1) how come no one else mentioned him? "The best way to predict the future is to invent it" - Maximiliano Guzman
(1) +1. About abstraction: “One of the great leaps in OO is to be able to answer the question “How does this work?” with “I don’t care”” - Bastien Léonard
(1) And not just Smalltalk, he was one of the pioneers on the Xerox PARC team, they were responsible for many of the GUI metaphors we still use to this day. - jbrennan
[+17] [2008-09-25 12:42:18] ComSubVie

Peter Molyneux [1]


Oh yeah! A brilliant mind. - Manrico Corazzi
[+17] [2008-08-20 18:03:01] nmiranda

This is my list;

Joel Spolsky, he definitely change my mind when I discovered his blog.

that's it

But Joel doesnt program. Hes more of a blogebrity. Jeff and co do all the technical coding... - mP
(2) Right, but the question is "Who in the software industry you admire the most?" and personally these guys for me I admire the most. - nmiranda
Of course he do! (at least he did in the past) - gorsky
[+16] [2008-08-20 18:57:13] nachojammers

Charles Babbage

Ada Lovelace

Alan Turing

George Boole

Marvin Minsky

to name but a few heavyweights whose work I sometimes struggle to understand, not current I know, but they really did blaze a trail

... on the shoulders of giants

Right next to Boole, don't forget Augustus De Morgan: - Dinah
[+16] [2008-08-13 08:40:37] Michael Stum

hmmm... not sure if there is anyone who I admire most.

My first blogs were Jeff [1] and Joel [2], and they were the most influential so far. I do not have a formal education as a developer, so when I started doing development, Joel's postings were my first steps into "real" corporate development. Reading about stuff like Project Planning, how to sell stuff etc. was like opening the door into a whole new world.

In the past years I learned to see the posts with more critique - I recognize that Joel is the Business guy who of course wants to sell stuff - which is not meant negatively. Once you start questioning the people it seems that I realized what the posts are actually about, how they apply in certain situations etc.

Nowadays, I also like to follow Scott Hanselman [3] and Raymond Chen [4]. Scott because he is a .net Developer with a great Podcast. Raymond because he gives a lot of insight into the thinking process. I am not a C or Win32-API developer, so most of the code in his posts are useless to me, but the whole background behind it give new insights to make my own conclusions.


[+16] [2008-09-29 05:07:56] Peter Wone

Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert [1]

I may have to withdraw this nomination. It appears Adams has Creationist tendencies.

Since you ask, Swingline Rage, firstly I didn't "blast" anyone. I merely downgraded my private estimation of Adams, because I think that a man who makes a living mocking idiots should not engage in public displays of stupidity.

Secondly, you don't seem to be showing much of the tolerance for others' opinions that you think I lack.

And thirdly, if you think that it is some kind of crime to object to religious belief, tell me: were the people whose religious beliefs motivated them to knock down the Twin Trade Towers entitled to their opinions?


Programming hero for an engineer that didn't program. No. - IDisposable
No way, what about all that "affirmations" crap? - Daniel Earwicker
Sometimes he's a software developer. Adams is deliberately vague. Also, even when Dilbert does hardware, he'd still be an embedded system programmer. Re the affirmations thing, I hear you. - Peter Wone
Re: Affirmations: try it out - splattne
but (-1) as programmer hero, sorry. - splattne
(1) I should also point out that ADAMS is the nominee, not Dilbert. - Peter Wone
(3) What a stupid reason to even talk about withdrawing a nomination. So you think it's okay to blast someone because of their religious views? How about if they're gay, or black? Nice try, bigot. - Swingline Rage
(1) Gayness and blackness are qualities of being and provide no measure of a person's worth. Religious belief of any type (and creationism in particular) is belief contrary to evidence and in my private opinion is a profound display of foolishness. Adams makes a living sneering at idiots. To show such weakness of mind cost him my respect. I am as much entitled to hold this opinion without your approval as religious people are to hold theirs without my approval. Arguably more so, because my position can be falsified (checked) whereas theirs cannot. - Peter Wone
[+15] [2008-10-23 16:52:47] community_owned

3d world

John Carmack,
Michael Abrash,
John Romero

PC world

Peter Norton,
Bill Gates,
Steve Wozniak,

Unix world

Brian Kernighan,
Dennis Ritchie,
Ken Thompson,
W. Richard Stevens,
Andrew Tanenbaum,
Linus Torvalds


Vinton Cerf, Robert Kahn (not precisely programmers.., fathers of the actual Internet)
Steven bellovin,
Robert Morris (coder of the Internet worm)

(5) I almost hit upvote, and then I saw "Bill Gates." Grrr... - Chris Lutz
(11) You don't have to like Bill Gates, but denying his accomplishments is just stupid ;) - gorsky
[+15] [2008-12-02 01:01:32] utku_karatas

Larry Page & Sergey Brin. Try doing your job without using their research project. ;)

Can't argue with that. - Michael Myers
One person per answer. - IDisposable
The thing is, would they make sense when seperated - I wonder? :) - utku_karatas
(3) They are one person, they just need two bodies ;-). - Gamecat
Who needs Google when we got SE (and the upcoming sites)? - Tshepang
[+15] [2008-08-24 09:44:44] Flubba

Douglas Crockford [1] of Yahoo! One of the most inspirational speakers I've ever seen. His videos [2] should be required watching for anyone interested in our profession, and especially for anyone working with JavaScript. He just brought out a book called JavaScript: The Good Parts [3]


An awesome speaker! - Gary Willoughby
[+15] [2008-09-25 17:36:36] user9282

Simon Peyton Jones

[+14] [2008-09-10 20:45:04] blowmage

Yukihiro Matsumoto (a.k.a. Matz [1])

Language designers want to design the perfect language. They want to be able to say, "My language is perfect. It can do everything." But it's just plain impossible to design a perfect language, because there are two ways to look at a language. One way is by looking at what can be done with that language. The other is by looking at how we feel using that language—how we feel while programming.

Because of the Turing completeness theory, everything one Turing-complete language can do can theoretically be done by another Turing-complete language, but at a different cost. You can do everything in assembler, but no one wants to program in assembler anymore. From the viewpoint of what you can do, therefore, languages do differ—but the differences are limited. For example, Python and Ruby provide almost the same power to the programmer.

Instead of emphasizing the what, I want to emphasize the how part: how we feel while programming. That's Ruby's main difference from other language designs. I emphasize the feeling, in particular, how I feel using Ruby. I didn't work hard to make Ruby perfect for everyone, because you feel differently from me. No language can be perfect for everyone. I tried to make Ruby perfect for me, but maybe it's not perfect for you. The perfect language for Guido van Rossum is probably Python.


[+14] [2008-09-30 17:24:33] Andrew Gwozdziewycz

Peter Norvig [1], among the many others already mentioned.


[+12] [2008-09-29 06:05:41] TimB

The late W. Richard Stevens [1], whose books on UNIX and network programming were packed full of excellent code.


[+12] [2008-09-25 13:06:26] John Topley

David Heinemeier Hansson [1] for having opinions and for showing with Ruby on Rails that you don't have to put up with a lot of the Temple of Complexity crap that other frameworks and platforms foist upon you.

Somehow he has a reputation for arrogance, but he's super nice and humble when you meet him.


[+12] [2008-09-25 13:01:33] epatel

Linus Torvalds [1]

(But Jeff Minter's [2] C64 games blew my mind, back in the days)


Linus Torvalds is a genius - Rory
Jeff Minter! There's a name I'd forgotten. You can never have too many Llamas. - Valerion
yay ... Jeff Minter :-) - interstar
I was wondering why Linus wasn't mentioned up higher, but this explains it: other names were woefully insterted into the same answer, effectively hindering many upvotes. :( Any chance you heed the "One person per answer" principle and move the other names to separate answers? - Jonik
Yeah, I know. Sorry I missed that. But I don't think that should have hindered others to have entered Linus as anyone could. Today this question is closed. I can maybe edit and remove him from "my" list. - epatel
Yes, but most people don't like adding duplicates... And a new "Linus" answer would be buried at the bottom with 0 votes, while this already has some. If you revert this back to the 1st revision, I for one will upvote :) Maybe the question will be reopened some day so new answers can be added (although at least Stallman and Kay are already mentioned higher up!) - Jonik
So? I should remove Jeff Minter? Think I could go another route then...remove all but Jeff Minter ;) See comments above...but well..ok...middle way then. All but Linus AND Jeff... - epatel
Thanks, +1 for Linus it is. (No idea who Minter is, but formatted like this I don't mind the mention :) - Jonik
[+11] [2008-09-02 10:46:56] Ricky Supit

Anders Hejlsberg [1] and Scott Guthrie [2] for shaping Microsoft Development and .NET.

Edsger Dijkstra [3], Alan Turing [4], and Donald Knuth [5] for giving us the fundamentals and making Computer Science a college field of study.


s/Touring/Turing/ - Adam Byrtek
(1) Anders should be respected more for Delphi, not the second coming of Java. - gbjbaanb
[+11] [2008-12-18 23:04:02] Rob Hruska

James Gosling [1], father of the Java programming language.


[+10] [2008-10-23 08:55:35] gbjbaanb

Nobody's mentioned Andrew Tanenbaum [1], not a programming hero per se, but instrumental in development of computing (and his work on algorithms, compilers and Operating systems is pretty influential)


[+10] [2008-12-05 01:51:40] Kevin

Leah Culver [1], because we need more women programmers.


(1) +1, but not because she's a woman programmer. - Konrad Rudolph
(2) +1 because she's awesome. - Sara Chipps
WOW! Programming never seemd more attractive!! - klyde
(1) I find it very telling indeed that the only programmer we felt the need to add a picture of was a woman. - Oorang
(1) Posting the photo was a good idea :) - Binoj Antony
C'mon just say it. Because she's cute. Really though I think saying "we need more women programmers" is more sexist than just saying "she's cute" - bobobobo
I think bringing sex into it at all is sexist. A truly sex blind world would not even know she's a woman. Is that really what we're aiming for? - JGord
[+10] [2008-09-25 13:22:46] Brian Knoblauch

Peter Norton.

His book on assembly language programming really launched me into programming.

Ah, memories. But after that hideous collection of bloated crapware things were never the same. - Ed Guiness
[+9] [2008-09-25 12:50:09] Ed Guiness

Konrad Zuse [1], inventor of the first freely programmable computer [2].


[+9] [2008-09-25 12:43:08] community_owned

Justin Frankel [1]

Justin Frankel (born 1978) is an American computer programmer best known for his work on the Winamp media player application and for inventing the Gnutella peer-to-peer system. He's also the founder of Cockos Incorporated which creates music production and development software such as the REAPER digital audio workstation, the NINJAM collaborative music tool and the Jesusonic expandable effects processor.

WinAmp changed music on the desktop, it transformed the industry I worked in (Music of course), and I still use it daily on a number of machines. I also use ShoutCast to listen to my home music as I roam, and finally even in the form of something as trivial as pathsync I use his utilities daily to backup and keep my various Windows boxes in sync.

Oh, and I hope that by putting him down here that he might buy me a new bicycle from his AOL millions.


[+9] [2008-08-13 15:32:49] DevelopingChris

John McCarthy, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Stanford University

The guy is a genius, and he has influenced most of the great minds in Computer Science. He also created the language language, lisp. And he is into AI, if you don't think AI is cool just go home now.

[+9] [2008-08-13 08:36:10] PW

Don't forget Bill Joy [1]


[+9] [2008-10-22 22:36:40] community_owned

Eric S. Raymond [1] for his pragmatic vision of the open source/free softwares


just for his book "The Art of Unix Programming", that rescued me from a world of windows. Not that there's anything wrong with windows. - Christopher Mahan
I like his book as well. - Cervo
The cathedral and the bazaar! - JGord
[+8] [2008-08-13 07:47:51] Rob Cooper

I have to admit, I am very much thinking of seconding Lars [1].

Jeff has had a real beating lately on other blogs by people that claim the quality of his blog has deteriorated (I disagree). I also find it fantastic that while they have been saying this, Jeff (and his team) have produced a site that has to be the next best thing to sliced bread for the programming community. I am really pleased with this site and where it is heading.

Hell, when it comes to monetising it. I can truly say I would gladly pay for "premium" (or whatever) membership if they decide to go with that model. There are not many sites that get that from me.

There are other greats, such as Linus Torvalds, but I just find him an arrogant geek, which I think the software industry can do without. We need more guys working together, wanting to improve their craft and be themselves and have fun with the code. This is not only how I feel, but I personally think Jeff promotes this a great deal as well.

+1 to Lars :)


[+8] [2008-08-13 08:43:48] Mark Glorie

People may down-vote me for this but I was put onto Carl Franklin's and Richard Campbell's .NET Rocks [1] when I was starting out, and I've learnt much from the various topics they cover.

I probably admire their passion for making cool stuff with .Net the most, but also the interest in making my life easier by showcasing powerful tools and tech.


Richard yes, but Carl, not so much. - Pete Hodgson
[+8] [2008-09-26 20:56:16] community_owned

I'd actually tie it between Oren Eini [1] && Jean-Paul S. Boodhoo [2]

Both are great programmers, very active, never stop learning, never stop teaching.


[+8] [2008-09-26 23:46:52] IDisposable

P.J. Plauger [1] for so MANY things, but mostly for Whitesmiths the company that made it possible for a poor CP/M-bound programmer to have the same high quality C compiler on almost every platfrom around in the

His awesome books:

  • The Elements of Programming Style (1974, revised 1978) with Brian W. Kernighan
  • Software Tools (1976) with Brian W. Kernighan [defined Fortran for me]
  • Software Tools in Pascal (1981) with Brian W. Kernighan [guided me in the transition from Fortran/DEC Basic to the block-structured and object-oriented development]
  • The Standard C Library (1992)
  • Programming on Purpose (all three volumes), collected essays from the magazine Computer Language [the only thing that made that magazine worth reading]
  • The Draft Standard C++ Library (1995)
  • Standard C: A Reference (1989, revised 1992, revised 1996) with Jim Brodie
  • The C++ Standard Template Library (2001) with Alexander Stepanov, Meng Lee, and David R. Musser

Oh, and Dinkumware provided the first STL library for Microsoft C (too bad it was so horribly maintained by Microsoft in later releases).


I wish I could see who upvoted this, because I like the way you think :) - IDisposable
[+7] [2008-09-26 22:52:14] steffenj

Chris Sawyer [1] - Transport Tycoon & Rollercoaster Tycoon

"Sawyer designed and programmed most of his games entirely by himself, using only the services of a freelance artist (Simon Foster) and a musician."


[+7] [2008-09-26 22:10:45] DaveJustDave

Ken Williams... of Sierra Online / King's Quest/Leisure Suit Larry/Space Quest infamy. Although he didn't code the mainstream interpreters that powered all their famous games, he did write the original Mystery House.

[+7] [2008-09-27 04:32:29] cvs

Phil Haack [1] for ASP.NET MVC


Haack, not 'Hack'. But yeah. - John Dunagan
And Phil, not 'Phill'. Fixed both. - Jonik
[+7] [2008-09-26 20:51:36] nbirkes

Bram Cohen - BitTorrent

[+7] [2008-08-13 08:25:51] Valters Vingolds

I wish to name somebody from the new age: Paul Buchheit [1] - creator and lead developer of Gmail - and he has a blog. I admire his approach to design.


+1 never heard of him before, nice. - Gollum
[+7] [2008-08-13 15:40:24] John Nolan


Martin Fowler - for Refactoring

Kent Beck - for TDD

Anders Hejlsberg  for Delphi and C#

Jeff Minter for LLamas

Anders is responsible for Delphi? OMG I'm shocked... - EricSchaefer
[+7] [2008-09-25 12:28:16] mattruma

This is very similar to this question [1].


True, but this question limits answers to one person, making it a clearer vote. - Mal Ross
I think this thread has a lot of answers that belong in that other question. I think there's a difference between admiring someone and recognizing their contributions, and truly being influenced by them. I see a lot of admiration and due respect but not much mention of their specific influence. - Bryan Oakley
That's why I stated it was similar. =) - mattruma
[+7] [2008-08-30 06:57:51] Dinah

Dennis Ritchie.

What's your favorite programming language? Unless you said "assembler", it's likely a descendant of his invention: C

(2) Not necessarily. Delphi, Lisp (and dialects), Haskell, Prolog are four languages I can name off the top of my head that were probably not influenced by C. Not that I don't love C, but this is a small overstatement. C influenced a lot, but not quite everything. - Chris Lutz
You're right. But you have to admit, most popular modern languages are C descendants: C, C++, Perl, PHP, C#, Java, and JavaScript are the most obvious ones. I believe Python was written in C or C++. And the .NET framework was also written in C++ so VB.NET is covered there also. I have no knowledge about the origins of Ruby. I bet that covers 90-95% of the questions on this site (except for non-Turing complete languages like DSLs (regex, SQL) and markup). - Dinah
[+7] [2008-10-23 08:54:57] akalenuk

Charles H. Moore [1]. The inventor of Forth and his own parallel IT industry.

"I've long been dissatisfied with computer languages and applications. It seems that many people are. Operating systems are incredibly complex and unreliable. Applications are huge and buggy. A large industry now exploits this, so the situation won't improve.

It need not be. I can't change the industry, but I can provide a few clients with elegant software. Trained as a physicist, I've written software for 40 years. See resume or biography. I'm not a manager. I don't have an organization. But I'm expert at analysing and solving problems"


APL and FORTH showed me how you can "live in the system" you are developing. And you don't need to explain factoring to anyone who has used FORTH. - gbarry
[+7] [2008-09-28 01:43:53] Ali

Alonzo Church [1], creator of lambda calculus (apart from God ofcourse).


[+7] [2008-10-23 09:56:09] Liam

Shigeru Miyamoto [1], creator of Donkey Kong, Mario, Zelda, F-Zero, Starfox, Kirby, Pikmin, Nintendogs, Wii Sports, Wii Fit. Oh and he played a major part in designing the Wii and the DS.


[+7] [2008-10-26 01:33:02] jalbert

Robert C. "Uncle Bob" Martin.

[+6] [2008-12-02 01:12:59] Mike Breen

why the lucky stiff [1]


[+6] [2008-08-30 06:56:24] Dinah

Charles Petzold will hold my top spot for a long time - for his programming books, but more so for writing CODE [1]


And more recently for his book that does a great job on clarifying Turing's infamous paper. - Jason Down
@Jason: yes, that book is great too but you'll want to go ahead an plan to skip the parts actually explaining the mathematics of the proof. They're necessary for a math thesis but don't really add much to a layman's understanding of the main points. - Dinah
-1 for his popularization of hungarian notation. bleh! - Gary Willoughby
[+6] [2008-09-25 13:00:47] MikeJ

Andy Hertzfeld, Bill Atkinson, Burrell Smith, Jef Raskin. these guys were the original Macintosh development team. You can read about the dev of the original Mac at [1]


[+5] [2008-09-25 18:11:50] Rui Vieira

Following the rules of the question, I voted up the ones I would have put.

One addition:

Audrey Tang [1]

Implementing a Perl 6 spec in Haskell? Respect.


[+5] [2008-09-25 17:50:34] kari.patila

Douglas Crockford

[+5] [2008-09-26 21:02:21] Andrew

A severely under-recognized player is Brad Fitzpatrick of LiveJournal/memcached/OpenID fame. The internet wouldn't be what it is today without his contributions.

[+5] [2008-08-13 09:00:35] Keith

All of the above I suppose, but also the early pioneers.

As well as the obvious ones: Alan Turing, Charles Babbage, etc I always add Tommy Flowers - an obscure telephone switch engineer who actually made the early code-cracking computers work.

I think it's wrong to mention Charles Babbage without adding Ada Lovelace. - TRiG
[+5] [2008-10-02 17:53:30] Steve Duitsman

Kathy Sierra. [1]

She really changed the way i thought about the importance of UI/workflow aspects of developing software.


[+4] [2008-09-27 21:31:08] Swati

My Dad.

Does anyone else's dad program!?

yes, my son's dad... - Brent.Longborough
(1) That's nothing. I was taught to program by my mother. - interstar
[+4] [2009-01-10 14:31:57] Mark Brittingham

Jeff Atwood

I was getting into a "I have a business to run and I know all I need to know about coding" mentality a few years back. I was shaken out of it when I visited his Coding Horror [1] blog about two years ago and I realized that I was missing out on some very exciting developments with respect to best practices. In particular, one of his columns (I forget which one) really inspired me to "rediscover" the field.

Oh, and of course, Jeff (along with Joel) is behind SO and this site has become an enormously important resource to me as well.


[+4] [2008-08-13 13:10:15] Bernard

Donald Knuth, John Carmack, those sort. I just go for the brilliant ones, and hope talent rubs off. :D
I know Linus Torvalds rubs a lot of people the wrong way, but I admire the guy's organizational and evangelical (in terms of the early 'selling' of Linux) skills. And Miguel de Icaza, cause the guy seems to get stuff done, and done right. Which I admire.

[+4] [2008-09-27 09:35:49] andreas buykx

Scott "Effective C++" Meyers Herb "Exceptional C++" Sutter Sutter & Alexandrescu - 101 Coding guidelines

[+4] [2008-09-26 20:58:23] Scott Mayfield

Carl Franklin -- I admired his work with Crescent Software with QuickBASIC and VBDos and DotNetRocks is almost solely responsible for making me feel like I actually know something about .Net

[+4] [2008-09-26 21:19:54] MotoWilliams

Roy Osherove - Roy Kills RegEx Dead!!

[+4] [2008-09-25 17:24:10] J Healy

Dave Cutler - character and code...

[+3] [2008-09-26 21:29:05] Ben Scheirman

Venkat Subramaniam [1] has been a humongous personal influence to me. I took a course from him at the University of Houston and it wasn't until then when I started to open my eyes to quality software, good code, good design, agile methods, etc. He opened the floodgate for me.


[+3] [2008-09-26 21:37:02] community_owned

John McCarthy [1]


[+3] [2008-09-26 20:55:16] Electrons_Ahoy

All the Implementors that worked at Infocom back in the '80s. Not only were the games fantastic, but the Z-Machine was a fantastic system (possibly the commercial first virtual machine.) And bonus points to them for figuring out how to turn their years in the MIT AI lab writing natural language processors in LISP into a multi-million dollar company.

[+3] [2008-08-13 07:41:35] Lars Mæhlum

<3 Jeff <3

I really admire the fact that a person can be both a very competent software developer, and still write interesting posts about the subject without drowning it in jargon.
There are a lot of bloggers that write very good posts about the tech, but has been on the top of my reading list for a while because of Jeff's way of balancing the tech and the people talk.

I find Jeff to be the antithesis of a goo developer. All one has to do is read his posts or listen to the jeff and joel show. I shudder to think of having him on my team. He's fine for doing web stuff, but for the work I am in? No way. - Tim
[+3] [2008-08-13 07:45:20] community_owned
  • Charles Petzold
  • Don Box
  • Dan Appleman(Win32APi Guy)
  • Thorvold/Gates/Ballmer/Jobs
  • Joel - since he took the time right about it
  • Geoff - since he put is neck on the line
  • The creators of Alice
  • My Teams

[+3] [2008-08-13 16:56:47] icco
  • Bruce Schneier : Security wouldn't be the same without him
  • Linus Torvalds : He started the whole Linux thing, I can't hate on that
  • The Google Guys, The Twitter Guys, The Ruby guy : I like these guys not only for their technological achievements but for the fact that they went out there and did it. They believed in what they were making and created something great.
  • Jimmy Wales & everyone who has committed to Wikipedia : Greatest compilation of human knowledge period. Without Wikipedia I would be far more ignorant.

[+3] [2008-08-13 16:59:41] Ryan Fox


I wouldn't be in the software world, if it weren't for me!

[+3] [2008-08-31 07:58:39] wvdschel

+1 for Dijkstra. He pretty much defined what we are doing here:

Don't compete with me: firstly, I have more experience, and secondly, I have chosen the weapons.
- Edsger Dijkstra

Then there is _why, the lucky stiff, basically because he brings us quality Ruby libraries and funny documentation, and because he remains a mystery.

[+3] [2008-08-31 16:58:20] Spoike

Kathy Sierra [1] for her essays on usability aspects of software. It's a shame that the blogosphere killed the female software blogging star.


[+3] [2008-09-25 12:33:15] stephenbayer

When I was a kid, my hero was scott miller [1]


[+3] [2008-09-25 12:49:36] leppie

Oleg [1]

And all the fathers of LISP and Scheme and Alonzo Church and Charles Babbage! So many!


[+3] [2009-07-07 19:39:43] xcramps

Larry Wall. Perl. A work of art and brilliant inspiration. Nuff said.

use strict; { $_++ } - SqlACID
[+3] [2009-07-07 19:54:17] Chris

i admire Jon Skeet for his over 76,000 reputation score on stack overflow.

[+3] [2009-07-07 19:57:18] Eric

Claude Shannon [1]

He discovered that you can represent boolean logic with electricity

He is the father of all electric computers!


[+3] [2009-07-31 04:34:02] Rafe

Mel, a real programmer [1]


[+3] [2008-09-27 08:34:05] eugensk00

A. K. Dewdney [1] and his column Computer Recreations in Scientific American:

*1984. In the game called Core War hostile programs engage in a battle of bits, Computer Recreations,Scientific American, May: 14-22

*1985. A computer microscope zooms in for a close look at the most complicated object in mathematics, Computer Recreations,Scientific American, Aug: 16-24


That was the kick in the right direction, happened long-long ago, which finally led me into programming.
Otherwise, now I'd probably know nothing about Knuth, Stroustrup, Gang of Four, you name it.


[+3] [2008-09-27 17:29:59] Y.Bereza

Mister COM - Don Box [1]


[+3] [2008-09-27 19:20:58] Leigh Caldwell

Christopher Alexander [1], inventor (or discoverer) of patterns. His writing is about (real world) architecture rather than computer architecture, but it's beautiful - and gives as good an insight into the idea of software patterns as the Gang of Four who were inspired by him.


[+3] [2008-09-27 19:35:08] Brent.Longborough

Sir Tony Hoare (aka C.A.R. Hoare) [1], for his magnificent dissing of Ada in The Emperor's Old Clothes [2], and, of course, for Communicating Sequential Processes [3]


[+3] [2008-09-27 19:48:08] Martin OConnor

I would say James Gosling [1], the father of Java.


[+3] [2008-09-27 19:58:07] Zsolt Botykai

Bram Moolenaar [1], author of Vim [2]. He had created the perfect tool for free.


[+3] [2008-09-29 05:41:47] Mauli

Erich Gamma [1]

One of the Go4 (Design Patterns)


[+3] [2008-10-02 09:44:01] RobS

In the spirit of avoiding a "ditto" in agreement with the many very qualified names above, I'd like to say Mark Russinovich [1].

The work he did under the banner of the SysInternals suite of tools have really, really been handy in the past and the present. Not only has he been up to his neck in Windows internals for as long as I can remember, he actively blogs and writes articles to share the knowledge.


[+3] [2008-12-02 01:20:09] user27262

I vote for the "unknown programmer", the bloke who doesn't get the glory, but has a passion and a love for the true art and craft of creating great software.

[+3] [2008-12-02 01:21:43] chazomaticus

DJ Bernstein. Call me crazy, but I admire his uncompromising idealism, even when it goes against convention. Also, the man is responsible for much of the precedent that software is free speech, and he's the reason we are able to publish open source security software globally. See here [1].


[+3] [2008-10-31 15:36:28] bruno conde

Don Syme [1]

This guy is a genius ... Creator of F# and responsible for the design and implementation of support for Generics in C#, the CLR, Visual Basic and other languages

( blog [2])


[+3] [2008-10-23 09:10:26] Valerion

Somebody that none of you would have heard of... Eunice Gerrand.

Hardly the world's greatest programmer - but she was my Computer Science teacher in high-school and got me interested in programming (BBC BASIC ah those were the days...). Therefore I basically (ho-ho-ho!) have her to thank for my career. Or to blame for my career. Whatever.

[+3] [2008-10-26 01:19:17] Slapout

David H. Ahl [1] He founded and pushished Creative Computing [2] magazine, one of (if not the first) magazine about personal computers. He was later head of Atari Explorer magazine -- the magazine that got me into programming.


[+2] [2008-12-04 02:42:59] FA

Rob Pike [1]


[+2] [2008-12-05 00:26:09] Jon DellOro

I think maybe Jon Bentley.

His (quite old now, but still pertinent) book Programming Pearls was one of the inspirations for me to try to be my best at programming, and influenced the way I thought about programming, a lot.

Here is an excerpt from the book. [1]

I'd love to write more influences too, but your question said one person per post...


[+2] [2008-12-16 17:31:11] tunnuz

Richard Garriott [1], for writing Ultima Online.


[+2] [2008-12-18 22:56:44] I Have the Hat

My Dad. If he hadn't brought home a TRS-80 for Christmas 1978, I imagine my life today would be quite different. He wasn't a hardcore programmer/hacker/architect--more like a EE who used code various aspects of his work, but he continues to inspire me to solve problems, work hard and try to be a good person to this day.

Point of clarification: this is technically not a duplicate of others who have indicated their fathers, as I am quite certain they were not referring to my father.

+1 for YOUR Dad, particularly in light of the clarification. - Adam Liss
[+2] [2008-12-18 22:58:22] Daniel Earwicker

Sir Charles Antony Richard Hoare [1]


We should forget about small efficiencies, say about 97% of the time: premature optimization is the root of all evil - jamesh
The guiding principle in all the code I write: "There are two ways of constructing a software design: One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies, and the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies." - Christian Vest Hansen
[+2] [2008-10-01 10:13:19] ironfroggy

People are naming lots of "famous" developers, but the most influential developer in my career has been the people I've worked for.

[+2] [2008-10-22 16:44:39] kloucks

Vannevar Bush = inventor of Memex that led to the core technologies of the Internet

[+2] [2008-10-22 22:25:22] rjarmstrong

Jean-Paul Boodhoo, watch his stuff on DnrTV :

I think if you can follow him in realtime you're doing well!

[+2] [2009-12-06 23:41:39] Dan Cristoloveanu

Fred Brooks [1]. For "Mythical man month", "No silver bullet" and others.

Nobody should ever forget "Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later."


Absolutely. Any one who thinks that Mythical Man Month is 'dated' is paying attention or just hasn't read it. - Adam Crossland
[+2] [2009-07-07 19:47:16] PTBNL

Grace Murray Hopper [1]: I heard her speak once - very interesting and engaging. I was also pleased to receive one of her nanoseconds! (For those who don't know, she was somewhat well known for giving out little pieces of wire cut to be the length that light travels in one nanosecond - IIRC, she said it made it easier for admirals to understand what she was talking about.)


[+2] [2010-04-21 01:23:02] Lucifer

Two words...

Bill Gates.

[+2] [2010-06-23 09:40:45] ppolyzos

I really like Scott Hansleman [1] and his presentations! You can learn a lot of things and never get bored!


[+2] [2009-07-07 19:57:52] nikmd23

Scott Hanselman: That guy just did what he loves out loud. Blogged about it, podcasted about it, and now it working for the mothership.

His passion and drive is remarkable.

[+2] [2009-07-08 19:54:34] PTBNL

Can I sneak Douglas Adams [1] in here? :-)


[+2] [2009-07-07 19:18:51] PTBNL

Niklaus Wirth [1] inventor/designer of several languages, including Pascal, Modula, Modula-2, and Oberon.


[+2] [2009-01-10 14:02:24] tekiegreg

Ok went through this entire thread and saw no mention of Joel Spolsky [1]. He's a founder of this very website. Ok maybe not as groundbreaking as Strastroup, Lovelace or Tannenbaum, but he wrote some damn good books, and his blog/column is a very influential one.


[+2] [2009-01-11 10:21:53] Mark Reid

Ken Thompson [1] partly for his work on Unix and also for UTF-8 but above all for his paper Reflections on Trusting Trust [2] which, after reading, will give you a small twinge of dread every time you run make.


[+2] [2009-01-11 12:07:18] PEZ

My own colleagues influence me the most on a day to day basis. As I try to influence them.

[+2] [2009-01-13 20:29:11] Matt Davison

Arun Kishan

Anyone that can get rid of the dispatcher database spinlock is pretty darn good considering how long Microsoft as tried to find a good solution for this.

[+2] [2008-09-25 12:48:56] Keltia

Wietse Venema [1]

Wikipedia entry here [2]


[+2] [2008-08-21 02:17:07] FlySwat

Raymond Chen and Scott Guthre.

[+2] [2008-09-10 21:03:57] Will Sargent

David Parnas. He's the guy who came up with encapsulation, a concept so core I think software engineering as we know it would be impossible without it. His essays are clear, cogent and well argued, and he's done great work for decades.

Well, Parnas has got 2 (incl. one from me). Is it that so few really admire encapsulation? - mlvljr
[+2] [2008-09-03 20:20:51] Xavier Nodet

Robert E. Tarjan, from Bell Labs. Implementing his planarity testing algorithm probably helped me discover the beauty of algorithms.

[+2] [2008-08-13 16:47:04] Keith Sirmons

I would go with Rockford Lhotka [1] who's CSLA Framework led me to David West and his book Object Thinking [2]. This has been a foundation I draw from when looking for solutions.



+1 I wish I could vote twice! - Walter
[+2] [2008-08-13 15:28:15] John the Statistician

In general, people with one foot in programming and one foot very publicly in the world of ideas for the public good:

Doug Engelbart (and thus Bill English, for stretching technology through ideas beyond the vocabulary of the time)

Everybody associated with the Near Future Laboratory (for their relentless combination of user experience, urbanism, tech device development, and culture theory)

John Langford (machine learning, for a commitment to both theory and performance, and for constant attention to the machine learning community itself)

Paul Graham (for the commitment to speedy and wanton development, and sticking to what he knows is good even through lean times)

Lee Felsenstein (for the dedication to public computing)

Adam Greenfield (for a commitment to the convivial experience of public life)

Jimmy Wales

Dan Bricklin (for both the spreadsheet and his work on social infrastructural computing)

Clay Shirky (for carefully thinking through the social problems of archiving)

Robert Lefkowitz (for connecting his work to deeper history, in particular the history of literacy)

[+2] [2008-08-13 14:05:36] Jedi Master Spooky

This is my list

  • Joel
  • Scott Guthrie
  • Steve Jobs
  • Bill Gates

[+2] [2008-09-27 10:38:30] Shane MacLaughlin

Rodney Zaks, from fun times in the early 80s when learning 8 bit assemblers was right up there with practicing black magic or knowing all the kick ass moves from the Karate Kid. Oh, and Clive Sinclair for giving us a cheap Z80 based machine to practice these skills on.

[+2] [2008-09-27 05:37:02] A. Rex

Jeff Dean [1], Google Fellow.

He's worked on a great many things, but notably MapReduce [2] and BigTable [3].

There's an internal page called "Jeff Dean facts" which lists things like: gcc has an option -O4 that sends code to Jeff Dean for a complete rewrite. Respect!


[+2] [2008-09-25 18:02:49] Jerry

Hero might be a bit strong, but I really admire Landon Dyer, who writes the DadHacker [1] blog. He's got some very entertaining and informative stories about life as a programmer at Atari in the early 80's.

I'm very nostalgic about that era of computing and gaming, and I love reading about the people who made it happen.

Ok, if I need a bona fide hero to comply with this thread, I'll throw in Richard Stallman. Ever since I read Free as in Freedom, I've thought of RMS as worthy of high praise.


[+2] [2008-09-25 17:33:47] torial

Alex Martelli - He is very helpful on Comp.Lang.Python and his posts are always worth reading if you don't normally care about the topic!

Alex and I have the same birthday. Way cool. - Adam Crossland
[+1] [2008-09-25 17:32:48] torial

Bill Wagner - Author of Effective Programming.

[+1] [2008-09-25 13:24:55] Colin Hardie

Gotta be Archer Maclean [1]..IK+ and Jimmy Whites Whirlwind Snooker consumed a large part of childhood!


[+1] [2008-09-26 23:55:17] IDisposable

Stan Kelly-Bootle [1] for teaching me that computer problems can be a joy, and that "data processing" is fun.

His book "The Devil's DP Dictionary" is the prototype that the "Hacker Dictionary" was built on, and is like a dictionary of XKCD [2] jokes from the early days of computing.


[+1] [2008-09-26 21:10:02] Zee JollyRoger

My mentor, Richard Keene, has to be hands down the greatest guy I've ever met. He's helped me a-lot and was always encouraging and understanding.

Here is his site: [1]


[+1] [2008-08-21 02:15:07] Twotymz

I'm a big fan of Justin Frankel [1] of Winamp/Gnutella/Reaper fame. His attitude and passion for software keeps pushing me to be better.


[+1] [2008-08-24 11:52:14] Ross

Andi Gutmans, Rasmus Lerdorf, Zeev Suraski, Thies C. Arntzen, Andrei Zmievski and the rest of the PHP dream team [1] :D


[+1] [2009-01-11 12:49:28] Bluebird75

Mathias Ettrich [1].

Looked at Qt in 1996 and decided it was time to create a Desktop for the Linux Operating System: KDE [2]. KDE later spawned the Gnome desktop in a reaction and both created all the success of the Linux Desktop.

KDE progressed steadily with very sound technical decisions. It's the biggest C++ Free Software project out there and has always made very sound technical decisions. It pushed the Linux Software stack to a great extent and triggered a lot of improvements:

  • improvements in Gcc to better manage C++, get better shared library loading times
  • improvements to autotools, then support of a new compilation tool (CMake)
  • improvements to the X11 rendering system to get a better font management system, and now with 3D rendering and transparency
  • improvements to cross desktop communication, with the DCOP communication protocol that later became DBUS, the standard for generic Hardware -> Desktop and Desktop cross application communications

What I know about C++, I know it from reading KDE and Qt source code.


[+1] [2009-01-11 13:52:44] Mitja

Austin Meyer of X-Plane [1].


[+1] [2009-01-13 18:27:38] Ray Vega

Paul Graham [1]

His essays [2] are classic must-read for anyone who writes code.


[+1] [2009-01-10 14:20:56] Brian Rudolph

Rico Mariani

[+1] [2009-01-06 03:28:39] Filip Ekberg

This is my list of authors

  1. Eldad Eilam author of Reversing - Secrets of reverse Engineering
  2. Dietel author of C++ How to program
  3. Chris Sells and Michael Weinhardt authors of Windows Forms 2.0 Programming
  4. Richard Blum author of C# Network Programming
  5. Krzysztof Cwalina and Brad Abrams authors of Framework Design Guidelines

Here's my list of general programmers

  1. ScottGu - Works on ASP.NET [1]
  2. Phil Haacked - Works on ASP.NET [2]
  3. Jeff Atwood found of Stack Overflow
  4. The one and only, Bill Gates

[+1] [2009-07-07 19:21:40] PTBNL

I can't believe no one has listed Tim Berners-Lee [1] yet!


[+1] [2009-01-13 22:20:25] Epitaph

Mark Shuttleworth [1].

For making Ubuntu possible.


[+1] [2009-01-13 22:23:49] Jim Blizard

Ada Lovelace. Cool name...early adopter. :) Among more recent practitioners I'd have to list Chris Date.

[+1] [2009-01-06 03:55:34] kal

Ken Thompson

[+1] [2009-07-07 18:59:51] Steve Wortham

Jeff Molofee for his work with NeHe Productions ( ). His site had the best OpenGL tutorials for many years. He set the example with his attention to detail. His tutorials were very focused and progressed nicely from the most basic to advanced concepts.

Then he had many guest programmers later submit tutorials that he published on his site. And NeHe became the place almost every aspiring OpenGL programmer would go to get started. It's where I started my OpenGL programming and I went on to create while I was still in high school. Even though I never became a game programmer like I had wanted, the experience was invaluable and even helped me land my first programming job.

[+1] [2009-07-07 19:05:21] stevedbrown

Sergey Brin & Larry Page. First developer centric monster company.

[+1] [2010-04-26 23:32:28] George Edison

Where is Jon Skeet?!?

He is the programmer of all time. Period.

[+1] [2010-06-02 14:26:27] Adam Crossland

Sir Charles Anthony Richard Hoare. Aside from inventing the Quicksort algorithm, he was generally one of the most influential figures in computing in the 50s and 60s, and his impact is felt even today as his work with concurrent processes is becoming even more important.

His 1980 Turing Award Lecture, The Emperor's Old Clothes [1], is one of the most important and influential texts that I have ever read for our industry.

Also, I admire him because like me, he took a liberal arts eduction (the Classics, in his case) and turned it into a career in computing. A very interesting and outstanding human being.


[+1] [2010-02-18 23:59:38] Helper Method

Joshua Bloch [1], Effective Java, The Java Collections Framework


[+1] [2010-04-21 00:42:12] Tshepang
  • Richard Stallman for founding the GNU project and his advocacy. His history of the GNU project [1] is among the most influential things I've read in my life. I was shivering with admiration when considering the ideals the guy represented (it was a brand new idea at the time).
  • Guido van Rossum for creating my fav language, Python.
  • Donald Knuth for having attracting this praise [2]:

"I would say he is man of a stature similar to the stature of Leonard Euler in mathematics. Such men are not born every century..."


[+1] [2010-04-21 01:14:12] John

From a personal level Randy Pausch. He was a truly amazing person and his work on Alice is quite remarkable.

Current persons I most look up to are Anders and Erik Meijer. Very smart people who are doing some really cool things to help push our world of mainstream development forward.

[+1] [2009-07-07 19:48:51] mxmissile

The developers of NHibernate.

[+1] [2010-07-19 20:44:06] adardesign

Defiantly Brendan Eich [1] creator of javaScript
and Douglas Crockford [2] correcter of javaScript

and surely John Resig [3]


[+1] [2010-08-14 09:00:37] Ashish

Linus Torvalds [1]


[+1] [2008-10-22 23:37:32] J. John

Michael "Rands" Lopp. More from an engineering standpoint, and especially with dealing with managers. Oh, and for jerkcity. There is code in some of the comics.

[+1] [2008-10-01 09:43:07] ThatBloke

Scott Mitchell [1] certainly saved me a lot of ASP.NET headaches.


[+1] [2008-10-04 06:05:11] Bob Somers

Steve Gibson [1]

He wrote his web site's e-commerce system in assembly language. He's got some mad skills.


[+1] [2008-10-17 22:09:29] Rayne

My friends Jeff, and Jonathan. The ones who got me really into programming and still help me out to this day.

[+1] [2008-09-29 05:28:06] Rich

David Braben [1]. Wrote Elite and Zarch, created the space game 'industry'. Fantastic.


[+1] [2008-09-30 16:36:57] Mephisztoe

Of course this is like million years ago, but one of the guys who influenced me most, is Grant Smith, also known as the Denthor of Asphyxia. He released a couple of awesome assembler tutorials on graphic routines such as putpixel and more.

Mode 13h rulez! ;-)

[+1] [2008-09-30 16:45:09] Jonathan Tran

Peter Lee [1] — professor of CS at CMU — because he listened to me babble about my personal programming projects and then taught me 1-on-1 how to write an interpreter, and eventually a compiler, which changed my view of programming (and life) forever.


[+1] [2008-09-27 21:11:42] Brian Sadler

Fred Brooks [1] because the mythical man month [2] destroys the notion that we are all just "bums on seats" and provides a clear motive for investing in yourself and your craft.


[+1] [2008-12-18 23:39:43] Fabian Steeg

Martin Odersky, father of Java generics and the Scala programming language.

Yay for Scala fans. - jamesh
[+1] [2008-12-18 23:52:28] Jurassic_C

Two words: Jon Skeet [1]


+1 for making it unnecessary for me to post Jon Skeet! - Adam Liss
[+1] [2008-12-04 02:21:12] J.T. Hurley

Kurt Godel, who changed the way I look at numerical representations forever.

[+1] [2008-12-02 00:24:51] community_owned

Peter J. Landin and Peter Henderson directly or indirectly created the LispKit manual for the SECD virtual lisp machine. Only after I implemented a lispkit compiler in Pascal on a NASCOM II microcomputer (Z80A), I understood what my Computer Science course (1975) 'Syntax and Semantics of Computer Languages' was all about. Ron Cain and James E. Hendrix directly or indirectly created the Small C Compiler, published by Dr Dobb's (197x). I implemented this compiler with the Z2 assembler for the NASCOM II and wrote a DOS for my NASCOM dual floppy drive. I still have the drive but not the computer.

[+1] [2008-11-09 19:24:20] Michael Stum

Boris Schneider [1]

I consider myself too young to really acknowledge the works of Turing, Knuth & Co., and the one thing I always loved about Computers more than anythign else was Games.

Boris was one of the German Translators at Lucas Arts (Lucasfilm Games at the time), and the German Versions of Monkey Island or Zak McKracken are absolutely top-notch quality and show a dedication to this job that I unfortunately often miss nowadays. The humor and gags were either translated or replaced properly.

Also, together with Heinrich Lenhardt [2] he was my favorite writer for the "Happy Computer" magazine (around 1988).

Now he works at Microsoft in the XBox team (Product Manager), and it is still very apparant that he is dedicated to games (as seen for example in the video [3] in this article).

Sorry that the links are all in German, but he just happens to be one of the (in my opinion) most important people for the German Video Game market.


[+1] [2008-11-15 11:31:55] jordan002

Jason Fried of 37Signals. Any consultant should be required to read Getting Real.

[0] [2008-11-18 08:30:46] James Curran

Andy Koenig [1] of AT&T. If Stroustrup is the father of C++, Andy is it's uncle. Having met him on several occasions, I've found him one of the most friendly & outgoing people I've known. He's also knowledgeable on an extremely wide range of subject, making him the closest to a "Renaissance Man" I've met in the indstry.


[0] [2008-12-01 23:33:59] Mark

Bob Martin AKA uncle Bob

[0] [2008-12-02 01:06:06] community_owned

Drew Major [1]

Wrote the guts of NetWare, back when the Engineers were in charge and it was a superior product.

More recently he has worked to make streaming video faster and more efficient.

Drew's specialty is small fast code. When it comes to actually programming, he is one of the best. He is my hero.


[0] [2008-10-23 09:32:57] Ashwin

Scott Meyers [1]


[0] [2008-10-31 15:39:12] nmiranda

Joel Spolsky

[0] [2008-12-04 02:27:00] J.T. Hurley

Tim Peters. Python evangelist/tutor, writer of the "The Zen of Python" (import this), and developer of timsort, the world's first "non-recursive adaptive stable natural mergesort / binary insertion sort hybrid."

[0] [2008-12-04 02:37:01] Ferruccio

J Gordon Letwin [1]

He wrote HDOS (Heath Disk Operating System) and the Benton Harbor Basic interpreter that came with it. When the source code to HDOS was published, I spent many days poring over his assembly language masterpiece. It taught me a great deal about writing code that is both efficient and easy to understand.

He later went on to be the lead architect for OS/2.


[0] [2008-12-05 01:27:09] community_owned

Tom Hudson. In the early eighties he wrote assembly language games for the Atari that were published in ANALOG Computing. The games were great, and I learned to program by reading the commented source listings. Understanding them was the most challenging and rewarding experience I've ever had in software; ever since, every problem I've come across feels solvable.

I'll probably be the only vote for him, but - thanks, Tom!

[0] [2008-12-02 01:29:56] user19709

Andrew Braybrook [1] he had a blog in the Zap 64 magazine [2].

mentalprocre [3] and para_birth01 [4]


[0] [2008-12-03 21:03:58] Guge

People I know:

  • Roar Lauritzen [1] for creating the best calculator I know about, open source MIDP I use on my phone. Also for his incredible Othello program, MIDP. And for writing a Mandelbrot set renderer for Pentium that made three pixels in paralell, two using integer pipelines, one using the floating point pipeline.
  • Kim Øyhus [2] for his touchscreen keyboard "PentaPut", his incredible search engine, his many other advanced projects in the dewpoint between math, physics and computing.
  • Trygve Reenskaug [3] for still being very eager about programming into his late seventies. And thus relieving me of a want for professional exit strategies.

People I don't know:

  • David Braben for Elite.
  • Jim McCarthy for his "21 rules of thumb" presentation.

People I don't even know the names of:

  • Whoever created DirectShow. It is brilliant.

[0] [2008-12-19 00:11:42] community_owned

John W. Backus?

[0] [2008-09-27 21:23:06] jholl

Chris Crawford [1], author of Eastern Front (1941) for the Atari.


[0] [2008-09-27 17:37:38] user21676

Ken Silverman, the author of the Build Engine. Not only are his creations amazing (Build Engine running at 1024x768 on an old pentium 133 that I had at a good framerate..WOW.) He is also generous with his knowledge and has a website full of code and advice.

[0] [2008-09-29 20:16:12] bombadil

Rod Johnson - the creator of the Spring Framework and of some very readable and informative books about J2EE software development.

[0] [2008-09-30 16:30:23] Mark Stock

Nasir Gebelli [1] is an Iranian-American programmer and video game developer. He programmed Final Fantasy [2] amongst many other popular game titles.


[0] [2008-10-02 17:55:48] Shawn Simon

Chuck Norris

[0] [2008-10-23 08:14:14] rshimoda

Christos Papadimitriou [1], the man who has really sterched my perception of what is feasible (or not) in this area the the author of the first book I could not understand completely.


[0] [2008-10-23 08:28:59] whiz

The Web Inventor: Sir Tim Berners-Lee. No Question!

[0] [2008-10-23 08:33:24] whiz

Jef Raskin. Apple Human-Computer Interface guru.

[0] [2010-12-21 19:19:25] jlafay

Jon Skeett [1]. A famous C# developer that works for Google and a brilliant author. I'm thinking of starting a fan club.

SO Profile [2]
C# in Depth [3]


[0] [2010-07-27 20:19:57] Vitor Py

Danny Hills [1] of Thinking Machines [2] fame.


[0] [2010-07-27 20:41:57] diverscuba23

I would say the two that had the most influance on me are a pair of programmers I worked with on my first job out of collage Daphne Pfister and Malcom Bumgardner.

[0] [2010-07-30 16:39:06] Ash Machine

My heroes are Ray Tomlinson, Richard Karp and the entire collaborative group at ARPANET/CERF/MIT/DARPA group that invented TCP/IP in the 70s as a solve for wireless radio packet networks. Their standard protocol ipV4 still going very strong....we literally take it for granted that it "just works" all day long.

[0] [2009-07-07 19:49:45] LB

Peter Landin.

For his paper: your next 700 programming languages. For realizing that lambda calculus could be used to model a programming language.

[0] [2009-12-06 23:51:52] Cecil Has a Name

Tim Sweeney [1], founder of Epic Games and the Unreal Engine.


[0] [2010-04-21 01:31:13] Isaac

Theo de Raadt [1] and the rest of the OpenBSD [2] team.


[0] [2010-04-21 01:42:12] mmr

Frances Allen [1]-- when I read her interview in Coders At Work [2], I was blown away by her level of experience and her vision for how compilers should work. I really hope her vision comes to pass, the idea that I shouldn't have to know how to code a thread, but that the compiler can just make it all work for me. I've always wondered why threading was such a hassle, and she's really explained well how optimizing compilers have failed and where they should go next (Hint: if I have to know how many cores my machine has, the compiler has failed).


[0] [2010-06-05 01:34:38] Josh Townzen

Herb Sutter, especially for his Guru of the Week [1] articles.


[0] [2010-06-10 12:05:33] nportelli

Anyone who organizes local programming centric events. User groups, CodeMash, DevLink, Code camps, give camps, etc.

[0] [2010-06-10 12:16:39] GustlyWind

One more Women Programmer orli yakuel [1]


[0] [2010-04-26 23:47:34] justkt

Richard P. Gabriel [1] for showing that poetry and the art of writing code aren't really that different, for proposing an MFA in Software [2], for his work with Lisp, and for collections of poetry. Talk about a brilliant and well-rounded guy!


[0] [2010-06-25 06:24:45] Anax

Vint Cerf [1], or we wouldn't be having all this.


[0] [2010-06-29 13:44:38] Thomas

Jack Ganssle [1] has a newsletter I like - The Embedded Muse. It's very informative and entertaining


[0] [2009-05-14 22:03:00] bubaker

Larry Wall - inventor of Perl.

I'm [still] a Perl hacker, but even if you don't use Perl, if you've ever heard him present or read one of his articles [1] -- he's brilliant.

Joel Spolsky - founder

Joel's amazing articles on software inspired me to keep learning and think about software as product. I became an admirer after reading his story [2] of his time at Microsoft.

Paul Graham - founder

Paul's thoughtful writing [3] broke new ground in my intellectual, entrepreneurial, and software development.


[0] [2009-01-14 01:05:24] interstar

Dave Winer [1].

Seriously. Haters may sneer. But Dave pretty much invented the modern role of programmer as public intellectual / public gadfly / public mad-inventor / public visionary.

I say "modern" because obviously there were "public intellectual / programmers" or "public visionary / programmers" before : from Fred Brooks to Richard Stallman to Doug Engelbart or Seymour Papert. But Winer is the one who went out there and declared that this new fangled web was his canvas on which, on any given day, he might do anything from invent a new technology to lambaste a political figure, to reveal a deep personal neurosis. He blazed the trail for all the other blogger/coders, blogger/entrepreneurs, blogger/pundits (including me)


[0] [2009-07-07 19:42:52] Seth

Bill Atkinson [1], for HyperCard [2].

I cut my programming teeth on HyperCard way before I knew what programming was. I learned basically all of the fundamentals of programming in HyperCard. For a long time afterwards, I compared every other programming system I learned to HyperCard (and they always came up short!). Not to mention that HC was a primary influence on the WWW and Javascript :P

Also, Ward Cunningham [3] for the Wiki in general, and the first Wiki in particular (the Portland Pattern Repository [4]).


[0] [2009-07-11 16:03:58] user134706

Jeffrey Richter, David Solomon

[0] [2009-07-31 04:27:46] bmb

The smartest people [1] you've never heard of. Nothing made me a better programmer than always being around people who are are smarter than me.


[0] [2008-12-18 23:27:09] chaos

Matthew Cavalletto [1], a principal of a 2000-era company called Evolution Online Systems. Interacting with his code taught me the difference between using OOP in a desultory fashion and working it.


[0] [2008-12-18 23:35:29] too much php


but most of all, samy is my hero [1]


[0] [2009-01-11 09:49:25] mouviciel

Nobody named Jon Postel [1]?


[0] [2009-01-13 20:33:47] Phrodo_00

not really a hero, but drunk me is a pretty profilic programmer that writes zomg optimized code.

[0] [2009-01-11 12:13:58] nes1983

Dan Ingalls, main implementor of Squeak, inventor of the Smalltalk language.

[0] [2009-01-11 10:46:13] community_owned

Jeff Atwood [1]


[0] [2009-01-11 11:52:39] Christian Vest Hansen

Brian Goetz [1]

No single book has changed my coding style and thought process as much as his.


[0] [2008-09-25 12:29:48] Slace

There's quite a few I look up to in the programming world, one being Bart De Smet [1], really awesome C# 3 work


Was he behind the DeSmet C Compiler? - Ferruccio
[0] [2008-09-25 12:45:56] kloucks

Admiral Grace Hopper

[0] [2008-09-25 12:53:31] pro3carp3

Jim Butterfield [1]


[0] [2008-09-25 12:33:40] darkdog

My personal hero is Beatriz Costa [1]

she has an amazing coding style.. i love it :)


[0] [2008-08-20 18:02:47] nmiranda

This is my list;

Joel Spolsky, he definitely change my mind when I discovered his blog.

that's it

[0] [2008-08-20 18:04:42] Kibbee

I would have to say Jeff Atwood And Joel Spolsky :)

[0] [2008-08-20 18:15:44] Graeme Perrow
  • Bill Joy - co-founder of Sun, creator of both the vi editor and BSD. Rumour has it he needed some network-related tools one day so he whipped off a few things like rsh, rcp, and rlogin in a few hours
  • Charles Petzold
  • Donald Knuth
  • Joel Spolsky - I love his blog, which eventually introduced me to the StackOverflow podcast and this site

[0] [2008-08-20 18:24:33] Webjedi

Oren Eini, Rocky Lhotka, The Gu, The Ha, Jean-Paul BoodHoo and Martin Fowler.

[0] [2008-08-13 18:32:15] James A. Rosen

Without question, the folks that put together GitHub [1]. Programming was fun before GitHub, but it brings a completely new social dimension to open source. That means they have to not only build a great, easy-to-use piece of software, they have to understand the social aspects of software. They do both admirably.


[0] [2008-09-26 22:14:54] DaveJustDave

ooooo and Paul Tyma of Mailinator infamy! Recoded his own lightweight version of sendmail, built a stripped down system that was, for many years, an AMD K6 box that handled millions of requests per day. He just sits back now and lets Mailinator bring in TONS of ad revenue (well, at least it's a ton in light of the small amount of time it takes to maintain it)

[0] [2008-09-26 23:53:24] IDisposable

Richard T. Snodgrass [1] defined the world of cross-server SQL approaches to temporal database development for me. His book ( available for free download here [2]) clearly shows the application of time-oriented data in multiple dimensions (user time, valid time. and transaction time) and how each differs with real-world examples.

Mr. Snodgrass is a leader in the field of forensic database tampering detection, very-large-database and SQL design. His genius at describing the issues and solutions in a vendor neutral way is inspiring.


[0] [2008-09-27 10:56:51] frglps

I admire Michael Kay [1] for work with Saxon [2] and his effort with XSLT 2.0 [3] but mostly for his tremendous [4] input [5] in helping [6] the community [7].


[0] [2008-09-27 10:59:52] roosteronacid

Douglas Crockford [1]


[0] [2008-09-25 17:48:41] community_owned

Kate Gregory... taught me that C++ isn't boring and is quite cool.

[0] [2008-09-26 20:50:29] nbirkes

Shawn Fanning - Napster

[0] [2008-09-26 20:51:26] Kevin Dente

Markus Frind, founder of, for opening my eyes to the possibility of the one-man web startup.

[0] [2008-09-26 20:52:55] community_owned

Blaise Pascal [1]


[0] [2008-09-25 13:04:23] Ash Kim

I love Markus Voelter [1] for founding the software engineering radio podcast [2].


[0] [2008-09-25 13:01:50] Richie_W

Grace Hopper - There be no other

Duplicate answer - Steve Duitsman
[0] [2008-09-25 12:59:52] Ash Kim

Martin Fowler [1]


[0] [2008-09-25 12:59:54] _ande_turner_

Josh Bloch [1]

For his ability to impart his knowledge to others:

  • Effective Java: Programming Language Guide
  • Java Puzzlers: Traps, Pitfalls, and Corner Cases
  • Java Concurrency in Practice

[0] [2008-09-25 14:06:50] HLGEM
along with like 3 others. jeez people. - Steve Duitsman
[0] [2008-09-25 14:23:37] Brian MacKay

Rocky Lhotka [1]

I learned a lot from his books on CSLA. Absorbing that knowledge and then building my own ORM tool really helped me get to the next level. He's a genius.


[0] [2008-09-25 13:56:30] community_owned

Currently, it's Matt Berseth [1]. His blog is relavant to me and i think top shelf. Insightful and helpful, it's a pleasure to read his blog about his experiments and his thought process.


[0] [2008-09-25 14:00:17] Jobi Joy

I have a few role models just based on their deep and vast knowledge in various technologies and their day to day contribution and dedication to the Community they are involved in

[-1] [2008-09-25 13:01:10] Daok

Mine is Rich B [1] because he is so much active here that he must be an hero. :)


[-1] [2008-09-26 23:56:39] crash

William Henry Gates III [1]


I don't be rude, but this WHG III is more a bussnies man rather than a programmer. He "made" basic.. so? I don't think this man should be mention here. - unkiwii
(1) You don't think he has influenced programming? That's funny. - PEZ
[-1] [2009-01-06 03:44:54] Yada

Al Gore [1], for inventing the internet.


[-1] [2009-01-14 01:14:30] sharkin

Joel Spolsky

His arguments stick and I always learn stuff.

[-1] [2009-01-06 03:28:11] Filip Ekberg

Bill Gates

[-1] [2008-10-23 17:21:30] community_owned

3d world

John Carmack,
Michael Abrash,
John Romero

PC world

Peter Norton,
Bill Gates,
Steve Wozniak,

Unix world

Brian Kernighan,
Dennis Ritchie,
Ken Thompson,
W. Richard Stevens,
Andrew Tanenbaum,
Linus Torvalds


Vinton Cerf, Robert Kahn (not precisely programmers.., fathers of the actual Internet)
Steven bellovin,
Robert Morris (coder of the Internet worm)

[-2] [2008-09-25 13:38:39] Robert Wilkinson

Raymond Chen, Larry Osterman, Jeff Attwood, Joel Spolsky and Don Box

[-3] [2008-10-23 16:26:39] mikhailitsky

Denis Mikhailitsky. What? Yes, I really love myself :)

[-5] [2008-09-25 13:02:16] Scott

My Self!

I learned a lot by my self.

I didn't learn much from anyone else.

I taught my self most of my techniques.