12 Important Pioneers in Software Development

12 Important Pioneers in Software Development

Software development is an important field with lots of exciting applications. But how did it get to be what it is today? There are a number of important individuals who pioneered specific areas of software development and are worth remembering. When thinking of great minds in this field, we might think of Turing and Lovelace, but they weren't the only pioneers to make a difference in software development.

1. Margaret Hamilton

Coined the term "software engineering" as an attempt to give legitimacy to computer code related to physical engineering. She also wrote code for the world's first portable computer.

2. Katherine Johnson

Johnson was one of three African-American students who desegregated the graduate school at West Virginia University. She went on to work for NASA and calculated the flight trajectory for Apollo 11. The new movie Hidden Figures is about her and the women she worked with.

3. Alan Kay

Kay designed a computer language, FLEX, for his doctoral thesis. He worked at PARC, where he programmed networking computers and, incidentally, became one of the fathers of the idea of object-oriented programming.

4. John Henry Thompson

Thompson developed the Lingo script that renders visuals in computer programs. This scripting language is the basis of Flash and Shockwave - used in many, many animation applications, games, etc. Anyone who uses Adobe products uses Lingo.

5. Yukihiro Matsumoto

A Japanese computer scientist, Matsumoto is the chief designer of the Ruby programming language. Beyond his obvious brilliance, he is well known for being a nice, positive guy.

6. and 7. John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz

At the time these men were working, only scientists and mathematicians used computers. They set out to create a computer language that could be programmed by anyone - even children. In 1964, they designed Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code - BASIC - which shipped with most personal computers into the 1980s. BASIC influences not just Visual Basic, used to write scripts in MS Office, but DOS.

8. James Gosling

Gosling created the original design for the Java programming language, commonly used for cross-platform applications today.

9. and 10. Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson

The co-founders of the Unix operating system. The internet runs on Unix, as does your smartphone, your DVR, your wireless router, possibly even your refrigerator and microwave. Anything with embedded processing that isn't a PC runs on... Unix. Dennis Ritchie also created the C programming language.

11. Linus Torvalds

And then there's Linux, the world's most popular open source operating system. Everything runs on Unix - a lot of it runs on Linux, which was developed out of Linux.

12. Tim Berners-Lee

One of, if not the, most influential people on this list. Sir Tim Berners-Lee proposed a new way of managing information back in 1989. A new way to transfer information from one computer to another. This was called the Hypertext Transfer Protocol.

There are many more names that could be listed here. Some, like Ada Lovelace and Bill Gates were left out because everyone already knows about them, but including everyone would have turned this into a book, not an article. Without some of these people, we would not have the internet, we would not have reliable GPS, we would not be able to record our TV shows and watch them whenever we want. Software development improves our lives and we should remember to thank some of these names, and others, when we use computers to work or play.

12 Important Pioneers in Software Development

At the same time, there is still a lot of room for new pioneers. If you think you have a chance of being one of them, then consider a Bachelor of Science in Computer and Information Science with a Concentration in Software Development from ECPI University. As computers become even more important, so do skilled developers to design apps and web-based software for applications, connect things in new ways, and improve our lives. If you'd like to learn more about how to get started, contact an admissions counselor today to discuss your options.

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