We often take the contributions people have made to making our lives easier for granted and the Universe seems to have a way of rewarding those who entertain us more than those who help us. But it’s all good, because here at FossMint , we know how to pay homage to those who have led the way for we the programmers and tech enthusiasts.

In this article we will be looking at 12 greatest programmers of all time (listed in no particular order), so let’s get straight to it.

1. Dennis Ritchie

Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie, also known as “dmr”, was the father of the C Programming Language; a language which has grown to be one of the most widely used programming languages.

Dennis Ritchie

He was one of the world’s foremost Computer Scientists and is widely credited for the humongous contributions he made to the “digital era”. The UNIX OS, which is now the core of well-known OSes like Mac OS X, was developed by Dennis and his long-time colleague Ken Thompson.

They both went on to receive the Turing Award from the AMC in the year 1983. In 1990, they also received the Hamming Medal from IEEE and in 1999, the National Medal of Technology from President Clinton. Dennis retired in 2007 after heading the Lucent Technologies System Software Research Department.

2. Bjarne Stroustrup

In 1978, Bjarne Stroustrup developed another widely used Programming Language called C++. He is a well-known Research Professor and occupies a good number of key positions including Managing Director of the Technology Division of Morgan Stanley, a Visiting Professor in Computer Science at the University of Columbia, and a Distinguished Professor at Texas A&M University.

Bjarne Stroustrup

He has received numerous awards and also authored well-known books including A tour of C++ Programming Principles,  Practice using C++, The C++ Programming Language, The Design and Evolution of C++, etc.

3. James Gosling

James Arthur Gosling is a Canadian Computer Scientist commonly known as the father of the Java Programming Language. Various Software systems like NeWS and Gosling Emacs owe their success to his contributions.

James Gosling

He was elected to Foreign Associate Member of the United States National Academy of Engineering based on his phenomenal achievements.

4. Linus Torvalds

Linus Benedict Torvalds is the Finnish American Software Engineer who developed Linux in the year 1991. He is the chief architect of the software and also the project’s coordinator.

Linux Torvalds

He is also responsible for the creation of the revision control system “Git”, and the dividing log software “Subsurface”. Due to his creation of an open source operating system for computers which led to the widely used Linux kernel, he was awarded the 2012 Millennium Technology prize by the Technology Academy of Finland alongside Shinya Yanamaka.

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5. Anders Hejlsberg

Anders Hejlsberg, the author of Turbo Pascal and Chief Architect of Delphi, is the developer of the Programming Language, C#. He is a well-known Danish Software Engineer responsible for co-designing several other successful Programming Languages and development tools.

Anders Hejlsberg

He is currently the lead architect of C# and core developers on Typescript in Microsoft.

6. Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee, also known as TimBL, is an English Computer Scientist known for his invention of the World Wide Web.

After the proposal he made for an Information Management System in March 1989, he implemented the very first communication between a Client PC and a Server via the Internet using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) which turned out to be very successful.

Tim Berners-Lee

He is the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an organization responsible for overseeing the Web’s ongoing development.

7. Brian Kernighan

Brian Wilson Kernighan was the Canadian Computer Scientist working alongside Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie when they created UNIX.

Brian Kernighan

He became well known after co-authoring with Ritchie on the book “C Programming Language”. He also co-authored of AWK and AMPL Programming Languages.

8. Ken Thompson

Kenneth Thompson is the American Pioneer of Computer Science who worked with Dennis Ritchie on the development of the UNIX operating system.

Kenneth Thompson

He worked at the bell labs for most of his career during the time which he developed the B Programming Language; the director predecessor of C.

He was also among the early developers of the Plan 9 OS. He is well known in hacker circles as Ken. He co-invented the Go Programming at Google where he has been working since the year 2006.

9. Guido Van Rossum

When one speaks of Python programming, Guido Van Rossum comes to mind. He is the Dutch Computer Scientist solely responsible for authoring the Python Language.

Guido Van Rossum

He was given the sobriquet “Benevolent Dictator For Life” (BDFL) by the Python community because he continues to oversee the Python development process and contributes to making decisions concerning it.

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From the year 2005 to 2012, he worked at Google where he developed the Python Programming Language and then left to work at Dropbox in 2013.

10. Donald Knuth

Donald Ervin Knuth, often known as the “father” of the Analysis of Algorithms, is an American Computer Scientist, Mathematician, and Professor Emeritus at Stanford University.

Donald Knuth

He was the winner of the Turing Award in 1974 and he also coauthored the multi-volume work “The Art of computer programming”. Amongst his accomplishments is the intense analysis of the Computational Complexity of Algorithms and the systematized formal mathematical techniques for it, the Asymptotic Notation, the creation of the TeX Computer Typesetting System, the Related METAFONT Font Definition Language, etc.

The fact is programming wouldn’t be what it is today without Donald Knuth.

11. Richard Stallman

Richard Matthew Stallman is best known as a free software enthusiast and activist who campaigns for the right of users to study, modify, and distribute software.

Richard Stallman

He is the founder of the GNU Project, a Unix-like Operating System composed entirely of free software, and the Free Software Foundation. He is also credited as the developer of GNU Emacs.

He is influential in the development of copyright Law, especially where it relates to free software rights and licensing, most notably the General Public License.

12. Larry Wall

Larry Wall is known for two things, as the father of the Perl Programming Language; and a sarcastic master linguist. He is also a champion of free software and his achievements on this front have been recognized by the Free Software Foundation as the recipient of its first Award for the Advancement of Free Software in 1998.

Larry Wall

His background training in Natural and Artificial Languages made him well suited to write the quintessential books on the Perl Programming Language such as Programming Perl and The Perl Cookbook.

So, there you have it. If the programming world was Greek mythology then these are the gods of the computer world.

We hope you enjoyed this article! Think we missed out on anyone who should be on the list? Perhaps you have questions. Feel free to share what’s on your mind with us in the comments below.

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