Photo of two people from below smiling at ipad looking at tech innovators

The 21st century has seen colossal advances in technology, with pioneers such as Steve Jobs transforming our day-to-day lives with their innovations. In this blog we celebrate the work by this tech giant and look at the top 5 tech innovators of the 21st century.

Tech Innovators: Steve Jobs

After meeting Steve Wozniak at a summer internship at Hewlett-Packard, the pair would go on to co-found Apple Computers in the garage of Jobs’ parents’ home, eventually securing the company as one of the global leaders in technology innovation.

After the worldwide success of the Apple I and Apple II computers, Jobs and his team co-invented the Apple Macintosh computer. However, disappointing sales led to a financial strain on the company- leading to Jobs being fired as CEO.

Later that year Jobs moved on to found NeXT, a company that produced powerful workstation computers for the education market. Not content with just one global market, Jobs bought the relatively unknown studio The Graphics Group. This was built into a major animation studio, and after achieving global dominance in animated feature films, was renamed ‘Pixar’ and sold to Disney for $7.4 billion.

After nearly 10 years of plummeting sales, Apple turned to its visionary co-founder for help. After purchasing NeXT, they re-appointed Jobs to Apple, who quickly returned the company to profitability. Jobs continued to innovate within the brand, leading to products that would make the brand renowned such as iTunes, the iPod, the iPad, and most notably the iPhone . With its iconic touch-screen technology and advanced computer-like capabilities, Jobs was pivotal in creating one of the most influential inventions yet, arguably changing the way that most of us manage our business and personal life.

Tech Innovators: Bill Gates

Gates discovered his love for computing early and wrote his first software program at just 13. After dropping out of Harvard, Gates and friend, Paul Allen would go on to co-found one of the world’s biggest software companies, Microsoft. Gates’ approach to technology and business was instrumental in achieving his dream of ‘a computer for every desk’. This dream would go on to propel this small company of just 30 people, to a multi-billion global force and turn this entrepreneur into the youngest self-made billionaire.

Gates was pivotal in Microsoft’s launch of Windows 95 which redefined home computing, introducing features such as the Start Menu that still define Microsoft’s operating system today. With over 80% of computers using Windows, Windows also powers servers, mobile phones, PDAs, cash machines and more.

In 2000, Gates and his wife established the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which aims to enhance healthcare, expand education opportunities and reduce extreme poverty on a global level. In 2016, the pair were awarded with the 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom for their work within the foundation.

Tech Innovators: Elon Musk

After studying economics, Musk set his focus on the three areas he believed would affect the future of humanity, saying “One was the Internet, one was clean energy, and one was space”. After several smaller ventures, Musk co-founded X.com, an online financial services company that would later be sold to eBay, which is known today as ‘PayPal’.

Musk founded his next company, SpaceX with plans to build a spacecraft for commercial space travel and reducing the cost of space transportation. It didn’t take long for SpaceX to become well established and be awarded the contract to handle cargo transport for the International Space Station, with plans for astronaut transport in the future to replace NASA’s own space shuttle missions.

With a vision for green energy in the car industry, Musk co-founded Tesla, Inc. in 2003 – a company dedicated to producing affordable, mass-market electric cars, as well as battery products and solar roofs. Musk’s work within Tesla overcame decades of criticism by showing electric cars to be more sustainable, and economical to run, and likely to play a key role in the future of transport.

Tech Innovators: Grace Hopper

Hopper began work at the Harvard Computation Lab in the late 1940s as part of the Navy Reserve, programming the Mark 1 computer that ensured speed and accuracy to military initiatives used over the world.

After focusing on Mathematics, she moved on to help develop the UNIVAC I computer, the first business-oriented machine. She can be credited for the creation of the first compiler for a computer programming language; software that translates arithmetic into language and unifies programming instruction. Hopper was one of the architects of a new compiled computer language called COBOL, or ‘Common Business-Oriented Language’, which is still a standard of data processing today.

Most notably, she’s acclaimed for the idea that computer code could be written and read like language. In 1969 Hopper was awarded the inaugural Data Processing Management Association Man of the Year award, and in 1991 received America’s highest technology award, The National Medal of Technology, confirming her as a pioneer of 21st century technology.

Tech Innovators: Tim Berners-Lee

Berners-Lee is a British computer scientist who invented what is undoubtedly one of the most revolutionary inventions of our time, the World Wide Web. Whilst working on a project called ‘Enquire’, at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, his frustration in accessing stored information sparked the idea of sharing and updating information among researchers, by using hypertext.

The internet already existed at this time, and the scientist worked to add hypertext to the Internet to enable him to develop his original theory of sharing information within a company, on a global scale. Over the next two years the World Wide Web was developed as both a text editor and browser and the world’s first website, http://info.cern.ch/, was launched on 6 August 1991. The scientist received a knighthood and Sir Tim Berners-Lee now works at an organization aimed at developing sustainable Web standards.

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