Picking *the* top people is very difficult and very personal. Spefifying which criteria to use to select "top people"
is already hard. For example, contributions to:
the language definition
contribution of libraries
building significant applications
development of new software develoment techniques
To show the difficulty, here is a list of people that at various times over the last 25 years have been indispensible
and/or left significant traces in C++ and/or simply been highly visible in the C++ community. The order is alphabetical:
Dave Abrahams - formulated the exception guarantees, library provider, Boost co-founder, template metaprogramming guru, author
Andrei Alexandrescu - author
Matt Austern - STL implementor, library WG chair, author
Tom Cargill - early C++ user, critic, and author (exception safety problems, language size problems)
John Carolan - first C++ business (not counting AT&T), porter and speaker
Marshall Cline - C++ FAQ
Jim Coplien - early adventurous user, popularized the notion of idiom (frm which "Pattern" borrowed a fair bit), author
Steve Clamage - early C++ compiler, C++ standards committee chairman, Sun representative
Hans-Jurgen Boehm - (C and) C++ garbage collectors - C++ concurrency and memory model work
Beman Dawes - Boost founder, rare user point-of-view in standards committee
Bruce Eckel - early C++ author, conference organizer
Eric Gamma (and the rest of the gang of 4) - design patterns, early GUI, C++ banking software
Francis Glassborow - ACCU founder, edition, and reviewer. UK committee member/delegate for a decade or so
Kevlin Henney - author, inventor and/or popularisor of many technniques
Michi Henning - CORBA book, ICE
Andrew Koenig - author, C++ project editor, contributor to many language features, manipulators
Doug Lea - CORBA binding
Stan Lippman - author, editor of "The C++ Report"
Dmitri Lenkov - founded the ANSI C++ committee
Doug McIlroy - Bell Labs' most influential "critic" of early C++, languages and systems guru
Nathaen Myer - traits
Scott Meyers - author
Kristen Nygaard - inventor of Simula and OOP/OOD, many discussions on aims and means of programming
PJ Plauger - defender of the C-view of C++, library vendor
Tom Plum - defender of the C-view of C++, conformance suite
Martin O'Riorden - early Cfront porter, first Microsoft C++ comiler, very Microsoft and Ireland representative
Dough Schmidt - ACE, TAU, CORBA book
Jerry Schwartz - iostreams (the original stream were mine), years on the standards committee
Jonathan Shopiro - first C++ standards project editor, writer of many early libraries, CORBA C++ binding
Alex Stepanov - the STL
Herb Sutter - author, columnist, designer of C++/CLI, ISO convener
Mike Tiemann - Cygnus founder, first author of GNU C++, wrote GPL-lite to allow use of C++ libraries
Todd Veldhuizen - template metaprogramming, expression templates, proved C++ template instantiation Turing complete, MTL
Obviously, the (sub)lists of contributions are absurdly short.
Many people in the standards committee contributed one or a few ideas, yet are not listed
Many people in Bell Labs who helped with suggestions or saved C++ from getting strangled in the crib, yet are not listed
Note that I know people who have spent 25 years doing little but C++ and still isn't on the list.
I know people who have spent months every year for the last 15 who is still not on the list.
It is really hard to come up with objective criteria.
There are huge tracts of the C++ community that I don't know well enough to pick names. Consider:
Consider also national communities:
Suggestions welcome. I mean it:
which people did I miss?
which people shouldn't have been in this unordered top-30-or-so?
what less-than-one-line "rationales" are inaccurate/unfair?
See also, B. Stroustrup: A History of C++: 1979-1991. Proc ACM History of Programming Languages conference (HOPL-II).
ACM Sigplan Notices. Vol 28 No 3, pp 271-298. March 1993. Also, History of Programming languages (editors T.J.Begin
and R.G.Gibson) Addison-Wesley, ISBN 1-201-89502-1. 1996. (A heavily reviewed paper). Link on publications page:http://www.research.att/~bs/papers.html
More people to consider
Gabriel Dos Reis
Now, *many* could reasonably object to not being mentioned here or not to be on the other list.
If you feel overlooked or feel I overlooked someone else, please email me.
A "Who's Who in C++" would be useful.
-- Bjarne Stroustrup; http://www.research.att.com/~bs