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9 Biographies Of Tech Icons You Should Know

Here are the stories of tech influencers, from Thomas Edison through Linus Torvalds, who shaped the present and future of technology. Some of these icons are less famous than others, but all have had a role in shaping and changing the way we live, work, and communicate.
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(Image: Alphaspirit/iStockPhoto)

(Image: Alphaspirit/iStockPhoto)

For tech-minded readers hunting for a good biography, most recommendation lists focus on the usual suspects: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Larry Ellison.

While the stories behind these icons are fascinating, they provide a narrow scope of the ways today's technology came to be. Modern tech is the product of countless minds and tireless innovation, much of which started before the aforementioned leaders were born.

Consider Grace Hopper, US Navy Rear Admiral and pioneer of computer technology, who was among America's first programmers. Another, Philo T. Farnsworth, created the first television before he turned 30.

[Read: 10 books to give IT pros a business edge.]

At a time when a select few tech icons dominate the spotlight, there are several innovators who don't get as much attention, because their accomplishments simply aren't as recent or interesting to a broader consumer audience.

From elusive hackers to the minds who built Intel, these biographies tell the stories of people who changed the way we live, work, and communicate. If you're on the hunt for a tech-focused read, one of these books may be your next choice.

Have you read any of these biographies? Are there any you would add to the list? Every book list could use a few more recommendations.

Rising stars wanted. Are you an IT professional under age 30 who's making a major contribution to the field? Do you know someone who fits that description? Submit your entry now for InformationWeek's Pearl Award. Full details and a submission form can be found here.

Kelly is an associate editor for InformationWeek. She most recently reported on financial tech for Insurance & Technology, before which she was a staff writer for InformationWeek and InformationWeek Education. When she's not catching up on the latest in tech, Kelly enjoys ... View Full Bio

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kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
2/18/2016 | 5:27:19 PM
Made my reading list longer
Added two of the books to my own reading list and thinking of adding a few more for gifts for that hard to buy for IT guy in my life. Great list. I know there are hundreds of great biographies in leaders of science, technology and innovation and not all of them could make the list, but this is a good start for anyone wanting to expand their reading lists.
CharlieD144
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CharlieD144,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/11/2016 | 10:50:53 PM
this is a joke
You have the audacity to not have Thomas Watson or TW JR in this list.  If thay had not invented the 360 you guys woud all be working the steel mills. The biggest Tech company in the world with the most desighn guys etc
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
2/10/2016 | 4:16:49 PM
Re: How Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs?
Rhese are really great biographies which I will add to my reading list.  They show how these great minds produce many of the technologies we use on our daily life.  We often forget that the ultimate result came after many years of trial and error.
AndrewE957
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AndrewE957,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/9/2016 | 10:16:10 AM
He did not invent TV
While the title of the book is misleading, Philo T. Farnsworth did contribute to the development of modern television by assisting the creation of electronic scanning technology.  Television as a working concept and commercial device was first invented and demonstrated by Scottish inventor John Logie Baird about 20+ years prior to Farnsworth's contribution.  The Baird television employed mechanican scanning and broadcast was is credited as the first successful television picture in the mid 1920s. OK, so it was a little grainy and of low resolution.   He also transmitted the first transatlantic television imaged in the late 1920s.  Farnswoth helped to pioneer electronic scanning used in TVs from around 1940s which gives a much sharper resolution and can transmit moving images witout blurring.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
2/9/2016 | 1:12:45 AM
Re: How Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs?
The author mentions this on the first page:
For tech-minded readers hunting for a good biography, most recommendation lists focus on the usual suspects: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Larry Ellison.
While the stories behind these icons are fascinating, they provide a narrow scope of the ways today's technology came to be. Modern tech is the product of countless minds and tireless innovation, much of which started before the aforementioned leaders were born.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
2/8/2016 | 7:08:39 PM
How Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs?
If Kevin Mitnick makes this list, then maybe Walter Isaacson's excellent biography of Steve Jobs could be on it too. I didn't admire everything about him, but he was a creative and commanding figure of our times. 
nasimson
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nasimson,
User Rank: Ninja
2/8/2016 | 9:44:00 AM
For lazy readers like me.
What an impressive reading list. I will put some of these in my To-Read list for 2016. What could have added to more utility is the number of pages for each title. That could have made the selection process easier for lazy readers like me.
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