The Founding Fathers of Tech

Published by Designzillas on July 3, 2014


In honor of the 4th of July this Friday, we wanted to pay our respects to some of the people who paved the way to our digital present with their inventions and undying commitment to progress. The good ol’ US of A was built on the idea of breaking free from the chains of monarchy and having the freedom to pursue one’s own interests, dreams, and desires. In a similar fashion, these “Founding Fathers” of tech focused their sights on a bigger, brighter, and much more connected future. Let’s give them a hand.

In honor of the 4th of July this Friday, we wanted to pay our respects to some of the people who paved the way to our digital present with their inventions and undying commitment to progress. The good ol’ US of A was built on the idea of breaking free from the chains of monarchy and having the freedom to pursue one’s own interests, dreams, and desires. In a similar fashion, these “Founding Fathers” of tech focused their sights on a bigger, brighter, and much more connected future. Let’s give them a hand.

The Telephone

The true inventor of the telephone has been disputed for ages. Common knowledge has pretty much agreed upon Alexander Graham Bell as the “Father of the Telephone” — he presented a prototype to the Queen of England in 1877. But we want to give some credit to the underdog, here. Ever heard of Innocenzo Manzetti? He was an Italian inventor who actually had an idea for a “speaking telegraph” as early as 1843. In 1864, his ideas finally came into being: a device that could “reproduce music and loudly spoken vowels with good quality.” It may not be our modern telephone, but without this invention, Alexander Graham Bell may never have been able to create and patent the model that he did. Bell’s gotten enough credit throughout the years, so this is for you, Manzetti; a man who history forgot because he didn’t get a patent.

The Computer

There have been plenty of devices that have contributed to what we know as the modern computer today, and plenty of people who put in hard work and effort to get us here. But we’re going to pay homage to Mr. Charles Babbage, generally referred to as the “Father of the Computer.” Babbage conceptualized and invented the first mechanical computer sometime in the beginning of the 19th century. He called this machine a “difference engine” and it was designed to figure out polynomial functions. It was basically a big calculator. Similarly, Babbage also invented the “Analytical Engine” that, when inserted with various punch cards could perform an assortment of tasks. An early version of this Analytical Engine was the mechanical loom.

The Cell Phone

Ah, the cell phone. Where would we be without it? Many of us were alive when the first cell phone hit the market, unlike the first computers and telephones. The man behind it all? Martin Cooper. In the 1970s, he joined Motorola to create the world’s first handheld portable phone. It took 10 years for him and his team to put the first prototype, DynaTAC, together to present it to the public. It weighed a whopping 2.5 pounds and only lasted 20 minutes before requiring a full recharge. When it was announced, Cooper famously stood on a busy street in NYC and made a phone call to one of his biggest competitors at Bell Labs. Martin Cooper, throwing shade at competitors since ’73.

The Game Console

Ralph Baer is commonly credited as the “Father of Video Games.” All of you gamers out there owe him a giant round of applause. Without him, you wouldn’t be able to state at your computer screens and ignore all of your real-life responsibilities (just kidding, we love you). In 1967, Baer created the “Brown Box,” a video game console that came with two paddle controllers and a light-sensitive rifle peripheral. This console could play games such as “Chase Game” and one similar to what would become Atari’s “Pong.” When Brown Box went to market, it was referring to as the Magnavox Odyssey, and it paved the way for all of the beautiful Playstations and XBox’s that grace our entertainment system’s to this day.

The Language of Computers

Between 1943 and 1945, a German inventor named Konrad Zuse created Plankalkül, what has commonly been referred to as the first programming language. Zuse sought to invent this language after he realized that programming in machine-code was much too complicated. Unfortunately, this language was never realized during his lifetime due to wartime complications, but has since been recognized as one of the contributors to modern programming languages today. Similarly, the first compiled high-level programming language is known as Short Code and was created by John Mauchly in 1949. This language was developed for an electronic computer and its statements were represented in mathematical expressions, but in an understandable form.

The Internet

Before the Internet, there was ARPANET. No, this isn’t an evil corporation in a 1980s sci fi flick; it’s actually a US Department of Defense funded project aimed toward creating a technology that could support computer networks even when the computers were using different operating systems. There were actually a couple guys behind this. Larry Roberts was the program’s manager. Mike Wingfield created the interface (IMP) that allowed different computers to communicate across the same network. Meanwhile, Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf created the protocols that we still use today that allow computers to understand and talk to each other, otherwise known as Internet Protocol (IP) and Transmission Control Protocol (TCP).

After these wonderful guys paved the way for computers to start talking to each other, Tim Berners-Lee came along and launched the very first website. It simply explains how to set up a website and goes into an explanation of Hypertext. It’s obviously still up today.

The Social Network

Where would any of us be without Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any of the other social media networks that keep us connected and talking with our friends and family? Well, before Mark Zuckerberg, there were BBSs, or Bulletin Board Systems. These were around in the late 70s and were actually hosted on personal computers. The user had to dial in through the host’s computer modem, and only one person could connect at a time. BBSs were mostly used for shady business such as posting virus code, adult material, and instructions for hacking into machines. Despite this, BBSs paved the way for modern social networks by allowing multiple people to log on and interact with each other through the Internet.


There are so many men and women involved in the entire history of technology that a simple blog post (or probably even book) couldn’t handle them all, and there are surely more to come. Maybe in 10 years, you’ll be on this list! All in all, we thought it was important to point out some of the Founding Fathers of our favorite industry. We hope that you have a great 4th of July weekend!

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