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Lesson Transcript

Becky: Hi everyone, and welcome back to EnglishClass101.com. This is Culture Class, Season 3, Lesson 5 - The Top 5 Most Influential Thinkers in Information Technology. I’m Becky.
Eric: And I’m Eric. It's great to be with you in this lesson!
Becky: We're ready to get started, but with this lesson we need to point out that our order isn’t from most important to least important.
Eric: That’s right. Information Technology is such a young industry that who is important and who is just influential is really just a matter of opinion.
Becky: That’s why this lesson is Most Influential and not Most Important.
Eric: Exactly. Well, let’s get to it!
Becky: Number 5 of our Top 5 Most Influential Thinkers in Information Technology is Larry Ellison.
Eric: Many of you have probably never heard of Larry Ellison but he’s an important character and thinker in information technology.
Becky: That’s right. Larry Ellison is the CEO of Oracle. What’s Oracle, you ask? Well, we’ll tell you.
Eric: Oracle is a database management company and one of the largest in the world. Databases are used in all computer systems and on all computers and electronic devices.
Becky: Larry Ellison is a computer programmer turned CEO. He did this after inventing a database management system that, to date, is one of the most efficient and effective systems ever invented.
Eric: Well, he didn’t invent it on his own. He was inspired by the work of Edgar F. Codd, who did the mathematical work on how the database could be put together. Ellison just used that research and built a system.
Becky: However, it was his vision and hard work that built the foundation for the database systems that we use today.
Eric: That’s right. Edgar Codd gave the idea to IBM, but they didn’t implement it because they wanted to preserve income from the database management systems they already had in place.
Becky: Larry Ellison pushed the limits, invented something that is fantastically useful and which continues to lead the field of database management worldwide.
Eric: Okay, number 4 on our list of Top 5 Most Influential Thinkers in Information Technology is Edgar Codd.
Becky: So, Edgar “Ted” Codd is the guy we just mentioned when talking about Larry Ellison. Codd is famous and influential because it was his work that makes relational database systems possible.
Eric: Now, defining a relational database system is way beyond the scope of this lesson but, just so you know how essential these database systems are, let’s just say that Google couldn’t exist without the relational database.
Becky: That’s right. Actually, the Internet as we know it couldn’t exist or function without the relational database. Codd also developed a number of other theories and mathematical models that could change computing, but are so advanced, we still haven’t implemented them.
Eric: For example, he created the logical framework for a self-replicating computer. Again, the technical details of this are beyond the scope of this lesson, but basically Codd was able to mathematically explain how cells replicate themselves.
Becky: That may seem unimportant, but if this theory were ever implemented, it’s possible that one day a computer could “think” in much the same way as humans do.
Eric: Anyway, this is all very technical, so let’s look at things that are a bit easier to understand.
Becky: Exactly, like Bill Gates for example.
Eric: Perfect! Number 3 on our Top 5 Most Influential Thinkers in IT is Bill Gates.
Becky: Bill Gates is a computer programer who became the CEO and founder of Microsoft.
Eric: Bill Gates introduced the world to Windows and Microsoft Office and for many, computing as we know it would be impossible without Bill Gates and Microsoft.
Becky: However, the reason we list Bill Gates as one of our most influential thinkers is because of his perspective on computers and business.
Eric: Gates believes that for computing to be most useful, it must be focused on improving business. For that, it needs to be built for and sold to enterprises around the world.
Becky: That’s right. Gates has only been secondarily interested in selling computers to the "normal" person, even though Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office are sold for personal use.
Eric: Exactly. Most of Microsoft’s power and income is from their deals with businesses, not with sales to individual households.
Becky: A friend of mine who worked at Microsoft used to tell me that this is one of the reasons Windows can be difficult for some people to use. Windows was not meant to be easy or fun to use, it was meant to be useful and powerful.
Eric: That's one of the reasons many people in IT prefer Windows. In some professional settings, Windows is much more flexible than many other operating systems.
Becky: Now, we don't want you to come away thinking that Microsoft doesn't spend any money or effort on making Windows or their other software user-friendly. Recent versions of Windows have made dramatic improvement in ease of use.
Eric: Which is one of the reasons Bill Gates is still one of the richest people in the world and why he's on this list.
Becky: That's right. When the business world needed a powerful and flexible operating system, Bill Gates made that for them. When the computing world increased their focus on user-friendly computers, Bill Gates did that.
Eric: That way of thinking, building what people want, is one of Bill Gates' legacies. He wasn't ever very good at predicting what people would want in the future, but when he saw a need, he was one of the best at filling that need.
Becky: Which brings us to our number 2!
Eric: That's right. Number 2 on our Top 5 Most Influential Thinkers in IT is Steve Jobs.
Becky: Just about everyone knows who Steve Jobs was. He was cofounder of Apple and introduced the world to the personal computer, the iPod, Pixar, the iPhone, and the iPad.
Eric: Not to mention being instrumental in the popularization of the mouse and USB technology.
Becky: That too. But as a thinker, Steve Jobs was the opposite of Bill Gates. Steve always focused on the individual and making computers for the average person.
Eric: Exactly. He believed that computers were tools for everyone and that they should be intuitive and reliable.
Becky: Along with that focus was a desire to make computers beautiful. Unlike most other computer companies, Steve Jobs put all the products that Apple produced through a rigorous design process.
Eric: His basic motto was, “If it isn’t beautiful and easy to use, why would I use it?” That motto guided him in every product.
Becky: That’s why on Apple's website, there's always a section dedicated to the design of each product and the details of how it was made.
Eric: For a long time, Jobs’ attitude was laughed at, especially by businesses. However, the tremendous success of products like the iPhone and the iPod have made many businesses focus more on the design of their own products and about how intuitive their products are to use.
Becky: Cool guy, that Steve Jobs.
Eric: Now, we just need to see if Apple can keep progressing and innovating since Steve Jobs passed away. So, here’s our last one. Number one on our list of Top 5 Most Influential Thinkers in IT is Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
Becky: Tim Berners-Lee is one of those people who is incredibly famous, but not in a pop culture kind of way.
Eric: That’s right. He’s famous for one specific “invention” which we’ll call the world wide web.
Becky: His specific contribution was made in both the invention of HTML, which is still used today on all websites all around the world, and being the first person to have two computers communicate through HTML.
Eric: And it wasn’t just that. Berners-Lee was repeatedly told to patent HTML and become a billionaire by selling rights to it, but he refused, repeatedly saying “This is for everyone.”
Becky: He later organized the World Wide Web Consortium, which oversees the development of the internet and HTML. He has been active both personally and politically to keep the internet “free” for everyone.
Eric: It's quite simply because of him and his desire to share his invention with the world that Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and EnglishClass101.com even exist.
Becky: We don’t officially endorse anyone on this site – but this guy is really cool.
Eric: Okay, that’s all for this lesson.
Becky: Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time! Bye!
Eric: See you!

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