Steven Paul Jobs is an American business magnate and inventor. He is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Apple Inc. Jobs also previously served as chief executive of Pixar Animation Studios; he became a member of the board of The Walt Disney Company in 2006, following the acquisition of Pixar by Disney. He was credited in the 1995 movie Toy Story as an executive producer. In the late 1970s, Jobs, with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Mike Markkula, and others, designed, developed, and marketed one of the first commercially successful lines of personal computers, the Apple II series. In the early 1980s, Jobs was among the first to see the commercial potential of the mouse-driven graphical user interface which led to the creation of the Macintosh. After losing a power struggle with the board of directors in 1984, Jobs resigned from Apple and founded NeXT, a computer platform development company specializing in the higher education and business markets. Apple’s subsequent 1996 buyout of NeXT brought Jobs back to the company he co-founded, and he has served as its CEO since 1997. In 1986, he acquired the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm Ltd which was spun off as Pixar Animation Studios. He remained CEO and majority shareholder at 50.1% until its acquisition by The Walt Disney company in 2006. Consequently Jobs became Disney’s largest individual shareholder at 7% and a member of Disney’s Board of Directors. Jobs’ history in business has contributed much to the symbolic image of the idiosyncratic, individualistic Silicon Valley entrepreneur, emphasizing the importance of design and understanding the crucial role aesthetics play in public appeal. His work driving forward the development of products that are both functional and elegant has earned him a devoted following.
Gerard Kitchen O’Neill was an American physicist and space activist. As a faculty member of Princeton University, he invented a device called the particle storage ring for high-energy physics experiments. Later, he invented a magnetic launcher called the mass driver. In the 1970s, he developed a plan to build human settlements in outer space, including a space habitat design known as the O’Neill cylinder. He founded the Space Studies Institute, an organization devoted to funding research into space manufacturing and colonization. O’Neill began researching high-energy particle physics at Princeton in 1954 after he received his doctorate from Cornell University. Two years later, he published his theory for a particle storage ring. This invention allowed particle physics experiments at much higher energies than had previously been possible. In 1965 at Stanford University, he performed the first colliding beam physics experiment. While teaching physics at Princeton, O’Neill became interested in the possibility that humans could live in outer space. He researched and proposed a futuristic idea for human settlement in space, the O’Neill cylinder, in “The Colonization of Space”, his first paper on the subject. He held a conference on space manufacturing at Princeton in 1975. Many who became post-Apollo-era space activists attended. O’Neill built his first mass driver prototype with professor Henry Kolm in 1976. He considered mass drivers critical for extracting the mineral resources of the Moon and asteroids. His award-winning book The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space inspired a generation of space exploration advocates.
Nolan Key Bushnell is an American engineer and entrepreneur who founded both Atari, Inc. and the Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza-Time Theaters chain. Bushnell has been inducted into the Video Game Hall of Fame and the Consumer Electronics Association Hall of Fame, received the BAFTA Fellowship and the Nations Restaurant News “Innovator of the Year” award, and was named one of Newsweek’s “50 Men Who Changed America.” Bushnell has started more than twenty companies and is one of the founding fathers of the video game industry. He is currently on the board of Anti-Aging Games, but his latest venture is an educational software company called Brainrush that is using video game technology in educational software, incorporating real brain science, in a way that Bushnell believes will fundamentally change education. Nolan, who is co-founder and chairman of Brainrush, believes that Brainrush will be his biggest success.
Ray Dolby is an American engineer and inventor of the noise reduction system known as Dolby NR. He was also a co-inventor of video tape recording while at Ampex. He is the founder of Dolby Laboratories. He is also a billionaire and a member of the Forbes 400 with an estimated net worth of $2.9 billion in 2008 although as of September 2012 it was estimated to have declined to $2.4 billion. As a teenager, in the decade following World War II, Dolby held part-time and summer jobs at Ampex in Redwood City, working with their first audio tape recorder in 1949. While at San Jose State University and later at Stanford University (interrupted by two years of Army service), he worked on early prototypes of video tape recorder technologies for Alexander M. Poniatoff and Charlie Ginsburg. As a non degree-holding “consultant”, Dolby played a key role in the effort that led Ampex to announce quadruplex videotape in April 1956. In 1957, Dolby received his B.S. in electrical engineering from Stanford. He subsequently won a Marshall Scholarship for a Ph.D. (1961) in physics from Cambridge University, where he was a Research Fellow at Pembroke College. After Cambridge, Dolby acted as a technical advisor to the United Nations in India, until 1965, when he returned to England, where he founded Dolby Laboratories. In that same year, 1965, he officially invented the Dolby Sound System, although his first U.S. patent was not filed until 1969, four years later.
Chad Meredith Hurley is an American co-founder and former Chief Executive Officer of the popular video sharing website YouTube. In June 2006, he was voted 28th on Business 2.0’s “50 People Who Matter Now” list. In October 2006 he and Steve Chen sold YouTube for $1.65 billion to Google. Before starting YouTube with fellow PayPal colleagues Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, Hurley worked in eBay’s PayPal division. One of his tasks involved designing the original PayPal logo. Hurley was primarily responsible for the tagging and video sharing aspects of YouTube. Chad is the middle child of Don and Joann Hurley, and grew up near Birdsboro, Pennsylvania. He has two siblings, an older sister, Heather, and a younger brother, Brent. Since childhood, Chad showed extreme interest in the arts, but then later became interested in computers and electronic media during high school.
Mitchell David Kapor is the founder of Lotus Development Corporation and the designer of Lotus 1-2-3. He is also a co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and was the first chair of the Mozilla Foundation. During the 1970s, Kapor was employed as a radio disc jockey at WHCN-FM, a commercial progressive rock station based in Hartford, Connecticut. It was also in this period that he became interested in Transcendental Meditation, going on to teach it in Cambridge, Massachusetts (where he also worked as a low-level computer programmer). Kapor subsequently began a career as a mental health counselor at New England Memorial Hospital in toneham, Massachusetts. Kapor worked as head of development at VisiCorp (the marketers of VisiCalc) and selling the rights to his products VisiPlot and VisiTrend to VisiCorp. Shortly after Kapor left VisiCorp, he co-designed and developed an integrated spreadsheet and graphing program. Kapor founded Lotus Development Corporation in 1982 with Jonathan Sachs, Kapor served as the President (later Chairman) and Chief Executive Officer of Lotus from 1982 to 1986 and as a Director until 1987. In 1990, with fellow digital rights activists John Perry Barlow and John Gilmore, he co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and served as its chairman until 1994. In 1990, Kapor’s company ON Technology introduced the product On Location. The EFF was a non-profit civil liberties organization working in the public privacy and expression. In 2001, Kapor founded the Open Source Applications Foundation, where he worked on Chandler Project. His involvement with the Foundation and Project ended in 2008. Kapor became the Chair of the Mozilla Foundation at its inception in 2003. In 2006, Kapor founded, Foxmarks (later renamed as Xmarks), based in San Francisco.
William Henry “Bill” Gates III is an American business magnate and philanthropist. Gates is the former chief executive and current chairman of Microsoft, the world’s largest personal-computer software company, which he co-founded with Paul Allen. He is consistently ranked among the world’s wealthiest people and was the wealthiest overall from 1995 to 2009, excluding 2008, when he was ranked third; in 2011 he was the wealthiest American and the second wealthiest person. During his career at Microsoft, Gates held the positions of CEO and chief software architect, and remains the largest individual shareholder, with 6.4 percent of the common stock. He has also authored or co-authored several books. Gates is one of the best-known entrepreneurs of the personal computer revolution. Gates has been criticized for his business tactics, which have been considered anti-competitive, an opinion which has in some cases been upheld by the courts. In the later stages of his career, Gates has pursued a number of philanthropic endeavors, donating large amounts of money to various charitable organizations and scientific research programs through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, established in 2000. Gates stepped down as chief executive officer of Microsoft in January 2000. He remained as chairman and created the position of chief software architect. In June 2006, Gates announced that he would be transitioning from full-time work at Microsoft to part-time work, and full-time work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He gradually transferred his duties to Ray Ozzie, chief software architect, and Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer. Gates’s last full-time day at Microsoft was June 27, 2008. He remains at Microsoft as non-executive chairman.