Engelbart is an early Internet pioneer. In 1969, ARPANET's first transmission was between nodes at Leonard Kleinrock's lab at UCLA and Engelbart's lab at Stanford. A philosopher, scientist, and inventor, he'll always be known as the father of the mouse, which he patented in 1970. He never received any royalties however. His patent expired in 1987, before the personal computer revolution. Today, at 83, he heads the Bootstrap Institute.
7. Gary Thuerk
Father of spam
In 1978, an overly aggressive sales rep from Digital Equipment Corp. sent out a pitch to several hundred names on an early ARPANET mailing list. Not only did Gary Thuerk get flamed, the feds running ARPANET threatened to throw him in jail. How times have changed. Today, 80 to 90 percent of all email is spam and nobody seems to know where it's coming from or how to stop it. As for Thuerk, he's at HP, still selling computer gear. Is Thuerk embarrassed about unleashing the scourge of spam on the world? Not really. "I'm the first one to do it, and I'm proud of it," he says.
8. John Cioffi
Father of DSL
Not one to blow his own horn, Cioffi shies away from publicity. But by all accounts, the Stanford professor was intent on coming up with a way to deploy broadband over copper wires and developed asymmetrical digital subscriber line (DSL) technology. He left Stanford in 1991 to found Amati Communications Inc. He has since returned to Stanford, where his research focuses on Dynamic Spectrum Management (DSM).
9. James Gosling
Father of Java
Canada-born Gosling was born to code. While working on a doctorate in computer science from Carnegie-Mellon, he wrote a multiprocessor version of Unix. At Sun, he is credited with inventing the Java programming language in 1991. In a blog posting in 2006, he noted that neither his wife nor his kids had ever seen him without a beard, which he had to shave off prior to having surgery for sleep apnea.
10. Vic Hayes
Father of Wi-Fi
Hayes is a Dutch-born electrical engineer who worked at NCR Corp. and later Agere. He's known less for technological wizardry than for his diplomatic skills. As chairman of the IEEE 802.11 working group for wireless LANs, he was instrumental in developing the standards that led to the success of 802.11 wireless LANs. Today, he is Senior Research Fellow at Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands.