Tech changes at a lightning pace, bringing us new capabilities with each year. You could argue man has invented items to make his life more comfortable since the beginning of time. In 2400 BC, someone invented the abacus, and in 1657, the Christiaan Huygens created the pendulum clock. But, the explosion of technological advances in the last 100 years is mind-boggling.
Today, technology geniuses continue to change the world as we know it, improving our everyday lives and taking our tech capabilities farther than we ever thought possible. Here are seven leaders in the industry you may or may not have heard of.
No list of tech giants would be complete without Bill Gates. He is best known for co-founding Microsoft and changing the interface of computer operating systems, so they were easy for anyone to use. The world likely wouldn't be the same today without the prevalence of user-friendly computers. Microsoft also introduced the world to the Xbox, creating a generation of gamers and changing the way we look at the world of computer software.
Gates offers inspiration to future tech leaders because of his inventor's spirit. When something is new, the task of inventing a new method or ability from nothing seems daunting. However, if Gates hadn't left school and put everything on the line to see his vision come to life, the world would have missed out on modern software and many other inventions from this brilliant man.
Ginni Rometty is the chair, CEO and president of IBM. One of her most significant contributions to technology is the way she's integrated artificial intelligence (AI) into other industries. In addition to focusing on new technologies are deployed for AI, she also is at the forefront of emerging technologies such as blockchain and quantum.
On the personal side, Rometty has a passion for creating a better workplace for women. Under her leadership, the company implemented extended parental leave and a "returnship" program that allows women to return to the workforce with hands-on training. Rometty shows that women in tech can be tough, smart and caring all at the same time.
Wai-Loong Lim, the founder of Y Studios, is known for coming up with unique interface and product design solutions, especially in consumer electronics and telecommunication. He has lived and worked in both Singapore and Canada, so he can communicate between the two cultures and accomplish tasks that someone without that background can't.
Y Studios is also one of the few design companies with a focus on human/robot interaction and user experience with virtual reality (VR), AI and the Internet of Things (IoT). Lim points to cultural context as the basis of his designs matched with innovation in each industry.
He'd like to be the one to start a movement where people value experiences over things. His goal is designing quality products that last so people don't have to replace them regularly but can spend that money traveling, helping others or seeing the world. Lim proves you can design high-tech products and still live a life of adventure.
In the 1990s, the way people viewed videos began to change. First, VHS tapes became obsolete. As DVDs took their place on video rental store shelves, Reed Hastings had a vision for a service that mailed your movies to you, so he co-founded Netflix. His bigger vision was a service where consumers could stream movies with no wait time whatsoever.
Hastings still serves as the chairman and CEO of Netflix — he changed the way we view and rent movies. Gone are the big video rental stores of yesterday, replaced with streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Hastings' vision changed the way we experience movies and TV shows.
Peter Thiel is the co-founder and chairman of Palantir, a company creating software with the aim of connecting data and human environment. He is the co-founder of PayPal and runs a venture-capital firm called Founders Fund, where he's invested in famous technology companies such as Facebook, Airbnb and Spotify.
Most people barely remember a time when you couldn't transfer money instantly online. Thiel is one of the first pioneers in digital currency. Imagine a world where you couldn't Venmo cash to your friends for pizza — it wasn't too long ago, actually. Young designers and entrepreneurs should take note that Thiel found success because he saw a need and filled it for consumers.
Mark Zuckerberg is a Harvard dropout, but it's unlikely he regrets that decision as one of the richest men in the world and co-founder of social media giant Facebook. Even though social media wasn't new when Zuckerberg arrived on the scene, he revolutionized the industry by providing a user-friendly platform meant to create opportunities for interaction.
He also monetized social media in a way that drives business and website traffic in the current online marketing environment. Love or hate the platform, it is still the biggest social media site with more than 2.32 billion monthly active users. Zuckerberg proves you can make a path in an already established industry if you bring fresh ideas and ih3nnovation to the equation.
Elon Musk, who founded companies such as Tesla and SpaceX, creates a buzz in the tech industry for his visionary ideas. Tesla produces energy-efficient vehicles, and SpaceX has successfully tested reusable rockets. His goal is to make space travel commercial in the near future. Musk has an impressive background with citizenship in South Africa, Canada and the United States.
Musk has a passion for revolutionizing transportation in any way possible and has accomplished successful testing others said was impossible. He is an excellent example of going after your passions no matter what anyone else says.
Although the seven tech names above have accomplished great strides toward technology and made an impact on our society, don't overlook the little guy who knows a lot about technology. You can learn new methods and fresh ideas from anyone with an interest in tech. The seven influencers above are certainly influential, but dozens upon dozens of tech moguls are out there with something to teach.
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