The tech industry is completely dependent on smart people. Sorting through random chunks of metal and flurries of nonsensical code to create computer systems that generally work most of the time is no easy feat. If you’ve enjoyed owning computers that take up less space than a common warehouse, you may have some of these people to thank:
Although he never got up on a stage in a black turtleneck to wave the newest iProduct around, Steve Wozniak has been the brains of the Apple operation since its early beginnings in 1976. The Apple I computer that made Apple, Inc. famous was the sole product of Steve Wozniak; he designed and built the hardware and wrote the operating system, feats he would later repeat when single-handedly designing the Apple II. While Apple’s other Steve spent his time promoting products and accepting most of the credit for the success of the company, Wozniak quietly left Apple, feeling that continuing to revolutionize the personal computing industry was actually holding him back. His post-Apple career has consisted of dozens of start-ups, tech awards and a fulfilling career passing his knowledge on to the next generation of basement-dwelling computer superwizards. He continues to be praised as one of the most crucial people in the tech world.
A woman as brilliant as her last name is unpronounceable, Susan Wojcicki is best known for literally owning the garage where Google was born. Her talents extend far beyond her superb taste in garage tenents; Wojcicki is employee #18 at Google, and she is currently acting as a senior vice president of the company. Her biggest contribution to everyone’s favorite multi-colored search engine was the spearheading of AdSense, Google’s “smart ads” program. While some may find it ironic that a company whose motto is “Don’t be evil” would dabble in advertising at all, AdSense is the source of nearly one third of Google’s total revenue. In addition to funding the features of Google you love most, Wojcicki has also spared users from seeing wildly irrelevant ads for browser games, male genital enhancers and extra-strength male genital enhancers in favor of advertisements for things they might actually buy. The recent appointment of Wojcicki to oversee Google’s engineering department makes her a powerhouse to watch in the technology world.
As a man who’s done more to combat video game piracy than every encryption code in the world combined, Gabe Newell, founder of Valve Corporation, is a household name among the tech-savvy. Rather than jumping on the overflowing “lobby for unrealistic piracy laws and invent more encryptions that don’t work” boat occupied by the rest of the computer world, Newell invented Steam, a Cloud-based gaming client so convenient and easy-to-use, it has turned many former game pirates to legally purchasing games. The man is also responsible for the iconic Portal series, which asks the player to save the world by punching holes in reality, and the critically acclaimed Half-Life series, which asks the player to save the world with a common crowbar.