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Network World 20th Anniversary

20 people who changed the industry

Looking back at the network industry's most important people of the last 20 years.

By , Network World
March 27, 2006 12:10 AM ET

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Laurie Bride: Open systems pioneer.
As an enterprise architect at Boeing throughout the 1980s and '90s, Bride had the industry's ear regarding the need to interconnect disparate computing systems. Much of early open systems work traces back to Bride, who authored the TOP portion of the Manufacturing Automation Protocol/Technical Office Protocol and actively worked on and demonstrated the Open Systems Interconnection model and TCP/IP.

Bill Gates: Opening windows the world over.
Since forging and then ditching his OS/2 partnership with IBM many years ago, Gates has been profoundly influencing the way enterprises develop, deploy and use software. Some might not appreciate his business tactics, but you usually don't get to deliver on your vision by being the nice guy.

Lou Gerstner: Leading the way to global services.
Although not a technologist by training, this former RJR Nabisco executive left his mark on the industry by realizing sooner than others the importance of services, open standards, the Internet, e-business and Linux, and helped usher in the age of flexible computing and services-oriented architecture development. With that vision, Gerstner turned the lumbering blue giant he ran from 1993 through 2002 into the powerhouse it is today.

Linus Torvalds: Open source's hero.
The open source movement is strong and growing, more so with each passing day, thanks in large part to Torvalds, who published his Linux kernel in 1991 while a university student in Helsinki. Today Torvalds works at the Open Source Development Labs to maintain Linux and accelerate its enterprise adoption.

Scott McNealy: Changing mind-sets.
Preaching "the network is the computer" gospel, McNealy opened minds to the idea of the networked environment and seamless connectivity in the late 1980s and early '90s. To follow that, in 1995 McNealy took the industry in a new direction - to the write once/run everywhere world of Java.

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