Have you ever wondered what the guy who invented the World Wide Web is up to these days? What about the guys who created Photoshop, or the one who created the PHP scripting language?
You may not recognize all of these people, but you’ll definitely recognize what they’ve accomplished. These are people who have made great contributions to computer and Internet technology in the past… but what are they up to now?
This list is a starting point, so help us add to it in the comments!
Famous for: Inventing HTML and the World Wide Web, and founding the W3C which oversees the development of the Web.
What he does now: He is the director of W3C and the World Wide Web Foundation, co-Director of the Web Science Research Initiative, and in June 2009 it was announced that he will be helping the UK government make data more accessible on the Web.
Famous for: Co-founding of Netscape and being one of the creators of Mosaic, the first web browser to gain widespread popularity.
What he does now: He is the co-founder and owner of Ning (together with Gina Bianchini) and also serves on the board of Facebook and eBay. He is also an investor in startups like Digg, Netvibes and Twitter and recently announced his new venture capital firm, the Andreessen Horowitz fund.
Famous for: Co-designing the TCP/IP protocol suite (together with Robert Kahn). Often called the “Father of the Internet.”
What he does now: He is the Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google and serves on the board of Scientists and Engineers for America.
Famous for: Co-founding Apple (with Steve Jobs).
What he does now: He is the chief scientist at Fusion-io, a data storage and server company. He also appeared on Dancing With The Stars in 2009.
Famous for: Co-founding first Kazaa and then Skype (both together with Janus Friis).
What he does now: He runs the VC fund Atomico Ventures, which has funded startups such as Last.fm, Fon and Seesmic. He is also the co-founder of Joost (again together with Janus Friis).
Famous for: Founding Palm Computing and inventing the Palm Pilot.
What he does now: He has been working on neuroscience full time and is a co-founder of Numenta, a company that develops pattern recognition software.
Famous for: Creating the file-sharing platform Napster.
What he does now: He is the founder and CEO of Rupture, a social network for gamers now owned by Electronic Arts.
Famous for: Co-founding Pyra Labs and creating Blogger. He is also known for having coined the term “blogger” and making the word “blog” come into common use.
What he does now: He is the co-founder and CEO of Twitter.
Famous for: Creating the first version of Microsoft Word (he was employee number 77 at Microsoft).
What he does now: He is currently a professional poker player participating in (among other things) the World Poker Tour.
Famous for: Creating the PHP scripting language.
What he does now: He is currently an engineer at Yahoo with the title “Infrastructure Architect” as well as a frequent speaker at Open Source conferences.
Famous for: Creating XML-RPC (and SOAP) together with Microsoft, and for being a pioneer in blogging and web syndication. He played a big role in the development of RSS and podcasting.
What he does now: He continues writing on his Scripting News blog (which is one of the very first blogs) and has remained an outspoken technologist and commentator on the Web.
Famous for: Being one of the creators of the Apache web server and a founding member of the Apache Group (later the Apache Software Foundation).
What he does now: He is the co-founder and director of CollabNet (founded together with O’Reilly Media), which is the primary corporate sponsor of Subversion. He is a frequent speaker at Open Source conferences around the world and is on the board of directors for the Mozilla Foundation.
Thomas and John Knoll
Famous for: The two brothers created Photoshop together (Thomas started the project). John Knoll is also famous for his work at ILM (Industrial Light and Magic).
What they do now: Thomas Knoll is the lead developer of Photoshop at Adobe. John Knoll is a visual effects specialist at ILM, making effects for motion pictures such as Speed Racer, the new Star Wars movies and Pirates of the Caribbean among others.
And the list goes on
Let’s face it, this list could be made almost endless. From that perspective the people we have listed here are only the tip of the iceberg; there are tons of others who have done great things in the past and many of them continue to make an impression on the technology we use on the Internet today.
We may very well have missed your absolute favorite “tech idol,” so please feel free to add your own heroes in the comments, especially if you know what they are up to these days!
Photo sources: From Wikimedia Commons: Tim Berners-Lee, Steve Wozniak, Niklas Zennström, Shawn Fanning, Rasmus Lerdorf, Jeff Hawkins. By Joi Ito: Marc Andreessen, Brian Behlendorf. From Governo de Minas Gerais: Vint Cerf. Evan Williams (CC) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com and bub.blicio.us. From MemeCentral: Richard Brodie. By David Sifry: Dave Winer. By Marco Bellucci: The question mark statue.