Australia's ITNews has lists the top 10 geeks of all time. I think they left out some doozies and included a few as well. Since I don't like their comment form, I'm reproducing my comments here....
Some key folks are missing.
- Brian Kernighan: co-author of C and awk.
- Dennis Ritchie: co-author of C and Unix.
- Ken Thompson: co-author of Unix.
Without Unix and C, we wouldn't have Linux. Likely we wouldn't have the web, either.
- Jon Postel: Author or co-author of the Internet Protocol (IP), the User Datagram Protocl (UDP), the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), the File Transfer Protocol (FTP), Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP), Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), and many more.
- Vinton Cerf: Author or co-author of many of the guidance, architecture, and project management documents (RFCs, etc.) that defined the early Internet. Much of Postel's protocol work is based on guidance and architecture written by Cerf, et. al.
Without TCP/IP there would be no web.
My top 10, in no particular order:
- Sir Tim
- von Neumann
- Robert Metcalfe
My honourable mentions:
- Ada Lovelace
- Larry Wall
- Randall Schwartz
- and maybe Kilby and Noyce.
Folks I wouldn't list
- Munroe (I love XKCD, but come on!)
A toss up: Herzstark - if you mention him, you have to include Arthur Scherbius, inventor of the Enigma, and Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Róycki and Henryk Zygalski, the folks who cracked it.
And Illiad: If you insist on including Munroe, you must include Illiad.