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Marcelo Gonçalves
Marcelo Gonçalves

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Who is your programming hero?

The good guys at The Changelog podcast (Adam Stacoviak and Jerod Santo) used to ask this question to people the interview on the show.

It's nice to see who are the heroes of people you really think are great programmers themselves. So, it would be nice to see who are this community's heroes. I'll start.

My programming hero is Dennis Ritchie. Not only for his technical skills but mainly for the huge contributions he made to the evolution of computer systems, software development and programming teaching and learning.

Let's go. Who is your programming hero?

Top comments (22)

codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald • Edited

It's hard to pick one. However...

Ned Batchelder is a special sort of 'hero' to me. He was one of the first programmers I had professional contact with (via #python on Freenode), and I largely credit him for "breaking me in". I learned a lot from him, and not just in terms of technical skills. Ned demonstrated by his actions how a contentious programmer should behave, both socially and professionally.

I don't think I ever told him - in fact, I'm somewhat just starting to realize it now myself - but Ned has been my yardstick. I've aspired to match his technical prowess, his patience and tolerance in answering any question, and his gentle strength as a leader.

By the way, you should totally check out Ned's blog.

I must mention a few other heroes:

  • Eric Raymond ("Cathedral and the Bazaar") for his work in open source, and for being one of the few to write virtually "finished" software - fetchmail.

  • Donald Knuth ("The Art of Computer Programming") for creating some of the most brilliant algorithms.

  • Guido van Rossum, for inventing Python, my favorite language.

  • Robert Nystrom, one of the most brilliant (and funny) modern programming guide writers today.

  • Mitch Kapor - not a "coder" in many senses of the term, but a software genius nonetheless. Invented Lotus 3-2-1 (the world's first computer spreadsheet). Also the subject of "Dreaming in Code", as he ran the ambitious (if fated) Chandler project.

marcelocg profile image
Marcelo Gonçalves

Yeah, it's quite a tough question to ask! Thanks for reminding me of Donald Knuth. Had so much fun (kind of :-)) while in college studying his books. Learned a lot, sure.

zeropaper profile image
Valentin Vago

For the record, Lotus was in fact the first spreadsheet software for Apple... but it's actually VisiCalc which was the very first software of that kind. ;)

chrisvasqm profile image
Christian Vasquez

Great question!

I would say:

  • Mosh Hamedani, Udemy and Pluralsight instructor that really opened my eyes with object oriented and clean code related topics.

  • Robert C. Martin, you probably saw this coming 🤓, although I haven't fully read his Clean Code book, I think it's a gem. It encouraged me to improve the existing codebase where I work at right now and the whole team has benefit from my efforts 💪

kaydacode profile image
Kim Arnett 

I'm going to be that person.

Steve Jobs. He wasn't a developer per-say.. but he challenged the system to continually make things better. I think thats something devs need more of. By the time a feature comes back to us for the 3rd time for fixes, we're ready to burn it to the ground. Maybe instead of getting frustrated, we need to look at how to make it BETTER and if that means burning it to the ground and starting over so-be-it. We need to do better.

binaryforgeltd profile image
Bart Karalus

Or maybe whenever feeling frustrated we should start calling people names? :-)

kaydacode profile image
Kim Arnett 

Lol. Hasn't worked so well for me, but I've definitely tried 😂

damcosset profile image
Damien Cosset

I really love Robert C. Martin. Read Clean Code, and the Clean Coder. I enjoy the "ethics" and soft skills approach he takes.

Then, I'll say DHH (David Heinemeier Hansson), the creator of Ruby on Rails. I don't code in Ruby at all, but I also like his opinions on overworking, Silicon Valley etc... I love the way he promotes a more "humane" way of programming, instead of constantly hearing about imaginary unicorns and rockstars who work 12 hours a day.

mohamed3on profile image
Mohamed Oun

There are many smart, helpful developers who work very hard to improve the community and help us move forward.
Some of my favorite are Paul Irish, Addy Osmani, Sarah Drasner, Dan Abramov and Scott Hanselman.

sabareeshk1991 profile image

i will add few more to this list, Douglas Crockford, Eric Elliott, TJ Holowaychuk

lthomas__ profile image

Ada Lovelace is my hero!

First dev, how cool is that?

phlash profile image
Phil Ashby

The list of people I admire and learn from is lengthy and always growing, however assuming my 'hero' is the person the I wanted to be when I started: I choose you Ken Silverman, creator of the Build engine behind Duke Nukem 3D and many other games..

ben profile image
Ben Halpern • Edited

Two fairly famous developers who have published books/given talks that stand out as having had big impacts on me are Sandi Metz and Ilya Grigorik. I attended a Metz talk when I really needed it and read her books. There are several concepts in software development she really pounded home with me, like "hiding the mess" and the "squint test". Her books weren't as important to me as a few talks I've seen.

Grigorik writes about and talks a lot about browser networking and how to make fast web apps. His work really solidified some concepts for me and had a huge impact.

So those are two teachers in a sense, but I'm not sure they are "heroes". They're just software developers who have had a big impact on my line of thoughts. I also have a few important mentors in my life, but I'm not sure they're "heroes" either.

There are some historical figures I've read about and find fascinating. Two that stand out for various reasons are Alan Turing and Jean Jennings. But their actual work isn't all that relatable to me either.

John Carmack and Tim Berners-Lee stand out as developers who have accomplished amazing things that I have read a lot about.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin are fascinating in their accomplishments as well, and from what I've read of them, I really look up to what they have done.

I don't know if any of these folks are heroes because I could add a ton of other coders to this list if I felt like.

Either way, everyone I've listed has either written a book and/or had one or more books written about them, so

inkel profile image
Leandro López

Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and John Carmack are the first ones that come to mind.

kathryngrayson profile image
Kathryn Grayson Nanz

I like Val Head a lot – her excitement about web animation really comes across immediately, if you ever hear her speak in person. She's incredibly talented, and her passion is contagious.

I've really enjoyed the Developer Tea podcast by Jonathan Cutrell. His focus on the importance of soft skills has been a nice break from the usual dev media, and his episode on applying to speak at conferences is what motivated me to throw my hat in the ring (and get chosen) to speak at a major conference last year – so I'm quite grateful to him.

On a personal note, my uncle (who I won't embarrass by linking here) who has been a software dev since I've been born. He's always encouraged me and been happy to answer questions and share experiences. I love having development as something in common with him.

And, since nobody has said it yet, can't forget about Ada Lovelace – not just the first female programmer, but the first programmer full-stop. What a badass.

darkliahos profile image
Sohail Nasir

Scott Hanselman, love his articles, his podcast and a lot of the stuff he has done with MVC, he seems like a really fun guy. Also I list Anders Hejlsberg (Creator of C#), Niklaus Wirth(Creator of Pascal) & Dennis Richie as personal heroes of mine!

zeropaper profile image
Valentin Vago

I have a few but the one I'll put first in my list is the creator of jQuery: John Reisig because he paved the path of modern JS.

binaryforgeltd profile image
Bart Karalus

Some of my heroes have already been mentioned but I cannot see Linus Torvalds, so I take this one!

olivermensahdev profile image
Oliver Mensah

I love Kent C. Dodds. My reason is similar to yours.

ark_202 profile image

Mine are PG and Joel Spolsky. Mostly for their essays and opinions about software development.