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    B Names: Famous People in Technology

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    Babbage, Charles

    1791(b.)-1871(d.) British mathematician and inventor. His mechanical computing machines were built on principals that anticipated modern electronic computers. Babbage began developing his Difference Engine, a mechanical device to perform simple mathematical calculations, in the 1820s. In the 1830s, he developed the Analytical Engine to carry out more complicated calculations. Both devices were punched-card controlled general purpose calculators, yet neither was ever built by Babbage because of funding. Modern scientists, however, have built his machines to their exact specifications.

    Ballmer, Steve

    The current president and CEO of Microsoft Corp. Microsoft founder Bill Gates asked his Harvard pal Ballmer to join his new company in 1980. At that time there were only 30 employees at Microsoft. In 1998, Ballmer was named president, and he became CEO in January 2000. Before joining Microsoft, Ballmer worked as an assistant product manager at Procter & Gamble, marketing cake mixes. Ballmer leads the company’s Business Leadership Team, a group involved in strategic planning for Microsoft.

    Baran, Paul

    Baran is best well know for his work at RAND during the Cold War where he developed the idea of digital packet switching. The premise of his research was a scheme that enabled the U.S. telecommunications infrastructure to survive a nuclear war. His work led to the development of the Internet’s underlying data communications technology. His seminal work first appeared in a series of RAND studies published between 1960 and 1962 and then finally in the tome “On Distributed Communications,” published in 1964. Baran has founded or co-founded several high-tech telecommunications firms, including Com21, Metricom, and the Institute for the Future. Baran holds several patents and was the first computer scientist to testify before Congress on the coming issue of computer privacy.

    Bechtolsheim, Andy

    Vice president of engineering of the Gigabit Switching Group at Cisco Systems. Born in Germany, Bechtolsheim came to the U.S. in 1975 to study computer engineering. He is the architect of the original Sun workstation, which he created while working on his Ph.D. thesis at Stanford University. In 1982, he left Stanford to co-found Sun Microsystems with Vinod Khosla, Scott McNealy and Bill Joy. In 1995, Bechtolsheim founded Granite Systems to design high-performance Gigabit Ethernet switches. Granite was bought by Cisco in 1996.

    Berners-Lee, Tim

    Invented the World Wide Web in 1989. A graduate of Oxford University in England, Berners-Lee currently holds the 3Com Founders chair at the Laboratory for Computer Science at MIT. He also directs the World Wide Web Consortium. In 1990, he wrote the first Web browser. After graduating from Oxford, Berners-Lee spent two years with Plessey Telecommunications Ltd. working on distributed transaction systems, message relays, and bar code technology. In 1978, he joined D.G Nash Ltd. where he wrote typesetting software for intelligent printers and a multitasking operating system.

    Berry, Clifford

    Built what is believed to be the first automatic digital computer – the Atanasoff-Berry Computer — with John Atanasoff at Iowa State University from 1939-1942. The innovations of the device included a binary system of arithmetic, parallel processing, regenerative memory, and a separation of memory and computing functions. It was also the first computing machine to use electricity, vacuum tubes, binary numbers and capacitors. The final product was the size of a desk, weighed 700 pounds, had over 300 vacuum tubes, and contained a mile of wire. It could calculate about one operation every 15 seconds.

    Bezos, Jeff

    Founder and CEO of Prior to starting in 1995, Bezos was the youngest senior vice president of D.E. Shaw & Co. in New York in 1992 and the youngest vice president of Bankers Trust Company in New York in 1990. Bezos was named Time magazine’s Man of the Year for 1999.

    Bhatia, Sabeer

    Cofounded Hotmail in 1996 and then sold the company to Microsoft. Hotmail was the first free Web-based e-mail service and served as a template for all that came after it. Hotmail was platform-independent, required no additional software or configuration, and was available free on the Net. Revenue would come from advertisements, Ecommerce and premium services. Bhatia also founded Arzoo, an Internet portal.

    Boole, George

    1815(b.)-1864(d.) English mathematician whose work helped establish modern symbolic logic. His algebra of logic, called Boolean algebra or Boolean logic, a two-valued system in which objects are divided into separate classes given one of two properties, is essential to the design of modern digital computer circuits. Boole’s work developed into applications for which he never would have thought they would be used – telephone switching and electronic computers using binary digits.

    Bosack, Len

    Co-founded Cisco Systems Inc. In 1984, Bosack and his wife, Sandy Lerner, developed the first commercially successful network router – a device that enables once-incompatible computers in far-off computer networks to communicate – while they were managers of two computer networks at Stanford University. The router enabled the two networks to share data. Lerner and Bosack founded Cisco System using their new technology. Bosack left Cisco in 1990.

    Bosak, Jon

    Considered by many to be the “father of XML.” He is currently an engineer at Sun Microsystems‘ XML Technology Center. Bosak is a founding member of OASIS, serves as Chair of the OASIS Process Advisory Committee, and was a primary force behind the development of the DocBook standard for UNIX and Linux documentation. Before working with XML, Bosak originated the Web strategy used by Sun for the distribution of Solaris documentation and was responsible for the SGML-based delivery system used by Novell to put its NetWare documentation online.

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    This article was originally published on June 24, 2010