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The 5 men who broke the internet

Today is International Men’s Day! So, we are celebrating the men whose work has helped shape the digital world.

Most people know who Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are, but we are marking the day by highlighting the men who worked just as hard behind the scenes. Without the inventions and ideas of these guys, the online world would be a very different place.

Consider these men the hidden stars of the internet.

By Yusuf Tamanna


Jerry Lawson 

After dabbling in electronics as a child and crossing paths with Steve Jobs while working at Silicon Valley’s Homebrew Computer Club in the 1970s, Lawson went on to invent the Fairchild Channel F - the first ever games console with interchangeable games. This meant that for the first time different games could be played on one games console.

Despite the concept being basic by today’s standards, it was Lawson’s work that is seen as the precursor to modern games consoles including PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo.


Ajay Bhatt 

The Indian-American computer architect is the man who co-invented what we now refer to as the USB (Universal Serial Bus). In recent years, the USB has become the standard hardware used to charge smartphones, transfer files and power a number of gadgets.

Bhatt achieved minor celebrity status in 2009 when actor Sunil Narkar portrayed Bhatt in an Intel television advertisement.


Sir Jonathan ‘Jony’ Ive 

Hailing from Chingford in London (Ive actually went to the same school as David Beckham), Ive was hired by Apple to re-design the iMac in 1997. It was that same design that went on to become the blueprint for the iPod and iPad. Ive currently sits as the chief design officer for Apple and received a knighthood from the Queen in 2012 for services to design and enterprise.


Sean Parker 

In addition to being the first president of Facebook, Parker co-founded Napster, the free file-sharing service for music. It was launched in 1999 and within a year Napster had tens of millions of users sharing music online, albeit illegally.

The service was eventually shut down in 2001 after a number of lawsuits were filed against Parker and co-founder Shawn Fanning. Despite its short lifespan, Napster is credited as one of the fastest growing businesses of all-time and changed the music industry forever. It’s also considered to be the precursor for iTunes and Spotify.


Steve Wilhite

Despite the gif (Graphic Interchange Format) only becoming an integral part of online life in the past decade, Wilhite invented it all the way back in 1987. But limited bandwidth speeds meant gifs, and all their glory, failed to load properly on computers. That was soon resolved when broadband internet came around.

Today, gifs are used when tweeting, blogging, sending emails and talking through messaging apps. Using a gif is now considered a way of communicating thoughts and emotions without using actual words.

As for the pronunciation of the word ‘gif’, the creator himself put an end to the debate and said in 2012 that it’s pronounced ‘jif’.


You can read our '5 women who helped make the internet' article here.