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The List: Time for a digital revolution

The Apollo 8 astronauts, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, Melinda Gates and Bono were all honored by Time magazineThe Apollo 8 astronauts, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, Melinda Gates and Bono were all honored by Time magazine
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Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been named Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2010. Mr. Zuckerberg is just one of Time's picks through the years who contributed to the expansion of the digital revolution. This week the List looks at other Time magazine Person of the Year choices who helped pioneer the computer and digital age.

  • 2010, Mark Zuckerberg — Mr. Zuckerberg, 26, created Facebook in his Harvard dorm. The social-network site has grown in six years to more than 500 million users worldwide and has made its founder one of the world's youngest billionaires. On his Facebook page, Mr. Zuckerberg said it was "a real honor and recognition of how our little team is building something that hundreds of millions of people want to use to make the world more open and connected."
  • 2006, "You" —  In a novel move, Time named "You" as the Person of the Year in 2006, noting the success of community-driven websites and content such as "the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace." In 2005, Google Maps was launched, Yahoo acquired Flickr, Apple switched to Intel processors, and Microsoft released the Xbox 360.
  • 2005, Bill Gates, Melinda Gates and Bono —  Forget good Samaritans Melinda and Bono for awhile, and let's focus on Bill Gates. While Time's choice focused mainly on Mr. Gates' philanthropy, the magazine called the computer genius the "great predator of the Internet age." Mr. Gates, 55, co-founded Microsoft and was a key leader of the personal-computer revolution, creating software that has affected most of us.
  • 1999, Jeff Bezos —  In naming the founder of its Person of the Year, Time wrote that Mr. Bezos "peered into the maze of connected computers called the World Wide Web and realized that the future of retailing was glowing back at him." Launched in 1995, is America's largest online retailer, with nearly three times the Internet sales revenue of the runner up, Staples Inc., as of January 2010.
  • 1997, Andrew S. Grove —  Time named the Hungarian-American engineer its Man of the Year, stating that the chairman and chief executive of Intel was "the person most responsible for the amazing growth in the power and innovative potential of microchips" and a leader in the digital revolution.
  • 1991, Ted Turner —  OK, it's a stretch, but Mr. Turner was for a time the vice chairman of AOL Time Warner. At its zenith, the online Internet provider America Online (AOL) had more than 30 million members worldwide. Mr. Turner, who founded Turner Movie Classics, also was a big proponent of colorizing movies, which uses computer technology.
  • 1982, the Computer —  Time did not name a human as its Man of the Year but picked the computer as the Machine of the Year in 1982. In 1981, MS-DOS 1.0 was released, IBM joined the computer race with the IBM Personal Computer, Hewlett-Packard introduced the first 32-bit chip, and 724,000 personal computers had been sold. Time noted, "America will never be the same."
  • 1970, Middle Americans —  Rejecting radicalism and worried about the future, Middle Americans, Time's Man and Woman of the Year in 1970, elected Richard M. Nixon to the White House and witnessed the flights of Apollo 11 and 12, "a quintessential adventure of American technology." Also, in 1969, "the Great Silent Majority" was being introduced to the "Net" or "Web." On July 3, 1969, UCLA put out a press release introducing the public to the Internet. The following month, the first data moved from its UCLA host to the IMP switch.
  • 1968, Astronauts Anders, Borman and Lovell —  As its 1968 Men of the Year, Time magazine chose the three Apollo 8 astronauts: William A. Anders, Frank Borman and James A. Lovell Jr., who had just completed man's first lunar flight, a 590,000-mile voyage to the moon and back. Computers played a big part in the mission. At one point in preparation for re-entry to Earth, Mr. Lovell accidentally erased some of the computer's memory, causing a wrong reading of the module's position. It took him 10 minutes to figure out and enter the corrected data into the computer.
  • 1966, Twenty-Five and Under —  "Never have the young been so assertive or so articulate, so well educated or so worldly," Time wrote as it chose a whole generation as its Man of the Year in 1966. While Time may have focused on the soldier in Vietnam or the anti-war protester at home, the pioneers of the digital age at this time were just out of short pants. Eleven-year-olds Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Steve Jobs (Apple) were growing up in Seattle and Cupertino, Calif., respectively and preparing to dominate the global computer market, while 8-year-old Steve Case (AOL) was a budding genius growing up in Honolulu.
  • 1960, U.S. Scientists —  Time chose 15 U.S. scientists as Men of the Year, including William B. Shockley, who with two colleagues (John Bardeen and Walter Brattain) earned a 1956 Nobel Prize for creating the transistor. In 1959, Robert Noyce created an integrated circuit. The following year, Digital Equipment Corp. introduced the PDP-1, the first minicomputer, and AT&T introduced the dataphone and the first known modem.

Compiled by John Haydon, whose first computer was a 1990s Amstrad PCW.

Sources: Time magazine,, Associated Press, and Wikipedia.

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