In the tech world, the inventor, originator, or driving force behind a new product or technology is typically dubbed "father of the _______". As in Tim Berners-Lee, father of the Web. As in Vint Cerf, father of the Internet. As in Bob Metcalfe, father of Ethernet.
Here, in honor of fathers everywhere, are 10 industry "fathers" you may not have heard of:
1. Marty Cooper
Father of the mobile phone
Cooper filed a patent for the "radio telephone system" in 1973, while working at Motorola, and was the first person to make a call on a portable cell phone. (He called a rival engineer at Bell Labs.) Cooper has stated that his inspiration came from watching Star Trek's Captain Kirk talk on his communicator device. Today, Cooper is the CEO and founder of ArrayComm.
2. Mike Lazardidis
Father of the BlackBerry
Born in Turkey to Greek parents, Lazaridis was five years old when his family moved to Canada. At age 12, he won a prize for reading every science book in his public library. He dropped out of college to start Research in Motion in 1984 and subsequently developed the BlackBerry. In 2000, he put up $100 million to start an institute devoted to the study of theoretical physics.
3. Tony Fadell
Father of the iPod
Fadell had an idea, pitched it around, was hired by Apple and the rest is history. He started as an outside consultant, became the first member of Apple's iPod hardware engineering team in 2001, and is now senior vice president of the iPod Division. So why haven't you ever heard of Tony Fadell? Apparently the Apple PR machine wants to keep the spotlight on a certain you-know-who.
4. John Backus
Father of Fortran
The former IBM computer scientist developed Fortran (Formula Translator) in the '50s. Fortran is considered the world's first widely used computer programming language. Backus died last year at age 82. As a young man, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which was removed and a plate was installed in his head. Later, a second plate was put in, one that Backus designed himself.
5. Jack Nilles
Father of telecommuting
Nilles coined the term in the early '70s while working at the University of Southern California. He founded the management consulting firm, JALA International, Inc., in 1980 and left USC in 1989 to devote full time to JALA. Telecommuting isn't rocket science, but Nilles is, in fact, a rocket scientist who designed space vehicles for the U.S. Air Force and NASA.
6. Doug Engelbart
Father of the mouse