Known for: Porsche 911
The guy created Porsche 911 for crying out loud. Conceived as a replacement for the Porsche 356, the 911 sported a long bonnet, sloping teardrop roof line and potent rear engine with six cylinders. The first 911, was in fact 901 but had to be renamed because of patent infringement claim by Peugeot on ‘0’ in the middle.
The car has been so successful that after being introduced in 1963, it is still in active production, making it one of the most successful and longest running cars ever.
He was also responsible for the famed Porsche 904 Carrera GTS. Alexander died on 5 April, 2012.
Known for: Wirelss TV Remote Control
Largely responsible for the modern couch potato, this guy in fact made all our lives so much easier by the invention of a wireless remote control for the television. He created the device in 1955.
The wireless remote initially cost $149.95 and was advertised as “you have to see it to believe it.” Going by the name of Flash-Matic, it used visible light to remotely control a television outfitted with four photo cells at the corners. Later versions of the remote then came in the market with ever increasing efficiency and lower costs but Eugene always kept the original remote controller with him to show it to others. He passed away on 23 May, 2012. He lived to be 96.
Known for: Artificial Intelligence
A computer scientist and cognitive scientist, he is known as the father of Artificial Intelligence. McCarthy believed that “every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence can in principle be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it.”
The guy created LISP, the second oldest programming language after FORTRAN. This language became the standard AI programming language and is still used today, most notably in Siri, yes Apple iPhone’s Siri. He was a pretty intelligent boy and received his PhD at the age of 24. He then became a full professor at Stanford in 1962; the Stanford labs in 60s and 70s then played a pivotal role in creating systems that mimic many human skills contributing positively towards the field of AI.
He died on October 24, 2011.
Known for: eBooks
E-books are nothing short of a revolution and Michael Hart was the pioneer of that revolution. After deciding to write the US Declaration of Independence into a computer in 1971, he founded Project Gutenberg, which is recognized as one of the earliest and longest online literary projects. Today it is one of the biggest collections of free eBooks on the internet.
Hart began to type and scan texts into digital version and finished 100 projects by 1993, and around 1,000 by 1997.
In 1998 he told Wired magazine that “20 or 30 years from now, there’s going to be some gizmo that kids carry around in their back pocket that has everything in it – including our books, if they want” Weren’t you right on the money boy.
He died on September 6, 2011.
Known for: Cartridge Consoles
As an engineer at Fairchild Semiconductor, Lawson designed the electronics of the Fairchild Video Entertainment System; the first console based on cartridges. The console was renamed to ‘Channel F later’ on. This system was the pioneering design of what was to follow in the gaming world, where cartridge-based consoles ruled and paved way for future gaming technologies.
Channel F predated the Atari Video Computer System by a year, so yeah, now you know the guy who made it all possible. In hindsight, it might seem a small feat, but in fact this was no easy task: “There was a mechanism that allowed you to put the cartridges in without destroying the semiconductors…. We were afraid — we didn’t have statistics on multiple insertions and what it would do, and how we would do it, because it wasn’t done. I mean, think about it: Nobody had the capability of plugging in memory devices in mass quantity like in a consumer product. Nobody.”
Atari’s release pushed Channel F into oblivion and Lawson started his own company, which wasn’t too successful though. He was also perhaps the first black video game professional too. He died on April 9, 2011 aged 70.