You know, when I looked at this list, I found myself disappointed. Sure, there are some big important guys, but software is more than about applications and the big picture. It’s also about the technology, and creating new abstractions. And in a lot of ways, the guy who first invented debugging is a lot more important to the success of computer science than anybody listed there.
It may be because I’m an old fart, but I remember the excitement of learning each new abstraction, either as I discovered it, or as it was invented. And it seemed to me that the creation of those abstractions are the really great deeds of computer science. Maybe nobody knows who had those break-through moments first, but I’m sure that they occured, and they seem to be to the the Great Moments in computer science.
1) The first guy to think “I shouldn’t have to rewire, I should be able to write instructions that rewire it for me” – i.e., the assembler moment
2) The first guy to realize “I’m not just re-wiring this, I’m describing an procedure for it to use” – the FORTRAN moment
3) The first guy to ask “Why can’t I used the same procedure from different places in my code” – the subroutine moment
4) The first guy to say “I should be able to use the subroutine in the program it already knows” – the library moment
5) The first guy to ask “Why do I have to be the one writing down the results?” – the printer moment
6) The first guy to realize “This isn’t just a calculator, it’s also a controller!” – the embedded moment
7) The first guy to realize “This isn’t just a calculator, it’s also a storage system!” – the database moment
8) The first guy to realize “This isn’t just a calculator, it’s also a communication system!” – the network moment
9) The first guy to realize “I’m not just submitting instructions for it to process – it’s submiting instructions back for me to process!” – the interactive moment
10) The first guy to think “Why can’t it do something else while its waiting?” – the multitasking moment
11) The first guy to think “Why can’t it show me more context while I work?” – the full-screen moment
12) The first guy to think “Man, why can’t this thing show me some chicks?” – the porn moment