Gina Marie Trapani is an American tech blogger, web developer, and writer. Trapani founded the Lifehacker blog in January 2005, and led it until January 2009. She still writes a weekly column for Lifehacker. She co-hosts a netcast on the TWiT.tv network called This Week in Google with Leo Laporte and Jeff Jarvis. She also hosted twelve episodes of Work Smart, a weekly column, for Fast Company. Gina is currently leading development of a crowdsourcing platform (named ThinkUp) at Expert Labs. She has written two books and also writes for other publications including Harvard Business Online. Fast Company named her one of the Most Influential Women in Technology in 2009 and 2010, and Wired magazine awarded her its prestigious Rave Award in 2006. Trapani was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English/Writing from Marist College in 1997. Trapani received a Master of Science in Computer Information Science from Brooklyn College (City University of New York) in 1998. She resides in La Jolla, California.
Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie is an American computer scientist notable for developing C and for having influence on other programming languages, as well as operating systems such as Multics and Unix. He received the Turing Award in 1983 and the National Medal of Technology 1998 on April 21, 1999. Ritchie was the head of Lucent Technologies System Software Research Department when he retired in 2007. Born in Bronxville, New York, Ritchie graduated from Harvard University with degrees in physics and applied mathematics. In 1967, he began working at the Bell Labs Computing Sciences Research Center, and in 1968, he received a Ph.D. from Harvard under the supervision of Patrick C. Fischer. Ritchie is best known as the creator of the C programming language and a key developer of the Unix operating system, and as co-author of the definitive book on C, The C Programming Language, commonly referred to as K&R (in reference to the authors Kernighan and Ritchie). Ritchie’s invention of C and his role in the development of Unix alongside Ken Thompson have placed him as an important pioneer of modern computing. The C language is still widely used today in application and operating system development, and its influence is seen in most modern programming languages. Unix has also been influential, establishing concepts and principles that are now well-established precepts of computing. Ritchie was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1988 for “development of the ‘C’ programming language and for co-development of the UNIX operating system.”
Alvy Ray Smith III is an American engineer and noted pioneer in computer graphics. He is a co-founder of the animation studio Pixar which he co-founded along with Edwin Catmull and Steve Jobs. In 1965, he received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from New Mexico State University. In 1970 he received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University, with a dissertation on cellular automata. From 1969 to 1973 he was an associate professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at New York University. While at Xerox PARC in 1974, he worked with Dick Shoup on SuperPaint, one of the very first computer paint programs. Smith’s major contribution to this software was the creation of the HSV color space. In 1975, Smith was recruited to join the new Computer Graphics Laboratory at New York Institute of Technology, one of the leading computer graphics research groups of the 1970s. There he worked on a series of newer paint programs, including the first 24 bit one (Paint3); as part of this work, he co-invented the concept of the alpha channel. He was also the programmer for Ed Emshwiller’s pioneering animation Sunstone. He worked at NYIT until 1979. With Ed Catmull, Smith was a founding member of the Lucasfilm Computer Division, which developed computer graphics software, including early renderer technology. He and Ed Catmull co-founded Pixar. After the spinout from Lucasfilm of Pixar, funded by Steve Jobs, he served on the Board of Directors and was Executive Vice President. According to the Steve Jobs biography iCon by Jeffrey S. Young and William L. Simon, Alvy Ray quit Pixar after a heated argument with Jobs over use of a whiteboard. Despite being a co-founder of Pixar, Young and Simon claim that the company has largely overlooked his part in company history since his departure. For example, there is no mention of Smith on the Pixar website. In 1991, Smith left Pixar to found Altamira Software Corporation, which was acquired by Microsoft in 1994. He became the first Graphics Fellow at Microsoft in 1994. He is currently President, and Founder of Ars Longa, a digital photography company. Smith is married to Alison Gopnik, the author and Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.
John McCarthy, is an American computer scientist and cognitive scientist who received the Turing Award in 1971 for his major contributions to the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). He was responsible for the coining of the term “Artificial Intelligence” in his 1955 proposal for the 1956 Dartmouth Conference and is the inventor of the Lisp programming language. McCarthy showed an early aptitude for mathematics; in his teens he taught himself mathematics by studying the textbooks used at the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech). As a result, when he was accepted into Caltech the following year, he was able to skip the first two years of mathematics. Receiving a B.S. in Mathematics in 1948, McCarthy initially continued his studies at Caltech. He received a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Princeton University in 1951 under Solomon Lefschetz. McCarthy championed mathematical logic for Artificial Intelligence. In 1958, he proposed the advice taker, which inspired later work on question-answering and logic programming. Around 1959, he invented Garbage collection to solve problems in Lisp. Based on the Lambda Calculus, Lisp rapidly became the programming language of choice for AI applications after its publication in 1960. He helped to motivate the creation of Project MAC at MIT, but left MIT for Stanford University in 1962, where he helped set up the Stanford AI Laboratory, for many years a friendly rival to Project MAC. In 1961, he was the first to publicly suggest (in a speech given to celebrate MIT’s centennial) that computer time-sharing technology might lead to a future in which computing power and even specific applications could be sold through the utility business model (like water or electricity). This idea of a computer or information utility was very popular in the late 1960s, but faded by the mid-1970s as it became clear that the hardware, software and telecommunications technologies of the time were simply not ready. However, since 2000, the idea has resurfaced in new forms (see application service provider, grid computing, and cloud computing.)
Stephen Wolfram is a British scientist and the chief designer of the Mathematica software application and the Wolfram Alpha computational knowledge engine. In 1986 Wolfram left the Institute for Advanced Study for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he founded their Center for Complex Systems Research and started to develop the computer algebra system Mathematica, which was first released in 1988, when he left academia. In 1987 he co-founded a company called Wolfram Research which continues to develop and market the program. In March 2009, Wolfram announced Wolfram|Alpha, an answer engine with a new approach to knowledge extraction and an easy-to-use interface, launched on May 16, 2009 and a Pro version launched on February 8, 2012 The engine is based on natural language processing, a large library of algorithms and answers queries using the approach described in A New Kind of Science. The application programming interface (API) allows other applications to extend and enhance Alpha. Wolfram|Alpha is one of the answer engines behind Microsoft’s Bing and Apple’s Siri (along with Google and Yelp!) answering factual questions.
Philip Emeagwali is a Nigerian-born engineer and computer scientist/geologist who was one of two winners of the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize, a prize from the IEEE, for his use of a Connection Machine supercomputer to help analyze petroleum fields. Emeagwali was born in Akure, Nigeria. His early schooling was suspended in 1967 due to the Nigerian-Biafran war. When he turned fourteen, he served in the Biafran army. After the war he completed a high-school equivalency through self-study. He travelled to the United States to study under a scholarship after taking a correspondence course at the University of London. He received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Oregon State University in 1977. He worked as a civil engineer at the Bureau of Land Reclamation in Wyoming during this period. He later moved to Washington DC, receiving in 1986 a master’s degree from George Washington University in ocean and marine engineering, and a second master’s in applied mathematics from the University of Maryland.
Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin is an American computer scientist and Internet entrepreneur who, with Larry Page, co-founded Google, one of the most profitable Internet companies. As of 2013, his personal wealth was estimated to be $22.8billion. Together, Brin and Page own about 16 percent of the company. Brin immigrated to the United States with his family from the Soviet Union at the age of six. He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland, following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps by studying mathematics, as well as computer science. After graduation, he moved to Stanford University to acquire a Ph.D. in computer science. There he met Larry Page, with whom he later became friends. They crammed their dormitory room with inexpensive computers and applied Brin’s data mining system to build a superior search engine. The program became popular at Stanford and they suspended their PhD studies to start up Google in a rented garage.