Top 50 Tech Visionaries

Courtesy of AppleAside from its showman/CEO Steve Jobs, Apple tends to keep its employees out of the limelight, but Apple VP and design guru Jonathan Ive has broken that mold. That's appropriate, since he broke another mold too, killing off the beige boxes and bricklike pocket gizmos that had become standard-issue in the tech industry. Ive's designs for the original iMac and for the iPod got people thinking about tech products as fashion accessories and decorative items instead of as impersonal and purely utilitarian objects.

30. Jeff Bezos

Courtesy of Amazon.comLong scorned by Wall Street, Amazon.com--the creation of Jeff Bezos--is today the one Internet service that many people can't live without. But Bezos hasn't stopped at hawking Harry Potter on the Web. His company has also become one of the leading providers of Web services, online storage, and by-the-hour CPU rentals, as Bezos pushes Amazon toward becoming a platform that anyone can use to sell anything that Amazon itself doesn't.

31. Meg Whitman

Courtesy of eBayA longtime Hasbro marketing executive, Meg Whitman went from the child's toy box to the grown-up's as CEO of eBay. Whitman joined the online auction site in its infancy and over the course of a ten-year run shepherded it into one of the most successful businesses on the Web. (She retired in March of this year.) Aside from squabbles over policy changes and the baffling purchase of Skype, eBay's run has encountered few speed bumps. That success, some say, might lead her to run for governor of California in 2010, but Whitman denies harboring any such ambitions.

32. Bill Joy

Courtesy of Wikimedia CommonsA legend in tech circles, Bill Joy was chief scientist for Sun Microsystems for over 20 years, where he oversaw numerous critical technology advances, the most important of which was the development of Java--the first major programming language designed for use on the Web. Still, Joy's greatest achievement is probably an academic project he worked on at Berkeley: The development of Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD), a major flavor of Unix; even Mac OS X uses BSD as its basis. Today Joy spends his days worrying about the evils of technology, such as bad robots and Grey Goo (a scenario where renegade nanomachines run amok and destroy the world).

33. Al Shugart

Courtesy of ComputerworldYou're probably using a product conceived by Al Shugart right now without even knowing it. Shugart's company, Shugart Technology, switched to the more exotic-sounding name Seagate Technology soon after opening for business. At Seagate, Shugart developed technology that he had tinkered with during a stint at IBM (where he led the team that invented the floppy disk) into the hard drive for the mass market. The colorful Shugart ran Seagate for nearly 20 years before redefining himself as a sort of venture capitalist/promoter, a role that made him a staple at big tech shows like Comdex. Shugart died in 2006.

34. Karlheinz Brandenburg and James D. Johnston

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