Jeremy Geelan has posted thoughts on the most influential heroes in the i-technology space, and has asked for others to share their nominations. For the most part, just about every name I’d have picked is on his list, with two notable exceptions:
Philippe Kahn, who (via Borland) forced all developers to rethink what IDEs should look like, and who is responsible for forcing Microsoft to invest in languages and visual development tools, which subsequently forced the creation of Eclipse, and so on. Before Philippe, and the Borland Turbo languages, compilers were arcane command line utilities, debuggers were miserable, language help was never readily available, and the development process was anything but integrated. Borland were the first to truly get integrated IDEs, and much of what we rely on today is still a derivative of that thinking.
Peter Norton, who while now most closely associated with Symantec products that bear his name, originally created lots of useful utilities (including an amazing DOS shell replacement). But best of all, he wrote the classic “Inside the IBM PC” and followed that title with equally important books, books that helped create an entire generation of developers back in the 80s when this entire industry was learning to crawl. Even though these books are long obsolete, they remain proudly and prominently placed in my library because they were so influential to me personally, and to so many others.

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