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Blazing a trail


The founders of DHL were pioneers who changed the logistics industry. Here are 50 other innovators who helped make a difference to the world – in either small or significant ways.

Of course, this is just a small selection of trailblazing names – not an exhaustive list. But all have, in one way or another, helped make our world a more interesting, informed and progressive place. And for that, we salute them.

Prof. Gordon Cheng (left), Ray Tomlinson (right)

Prof. Gordon Cheng (1968)
Creator of innovations in the field of robotics, particularly humanoid robotics, including robot “skin” that can recognize changes in temperature, pressure and proximity to other objects. He has been conducting research into, among other things, brain-controlled robotics and has played a key role in developing the thought-controlled exoskeleton.

Ray Tomlinson (1941 – 2016)
American computer programmer who revolutionized communication with the invention of the email system. Tomlinson – who pioneered the use of the @ symbol in email addresses – sent what is considered to be the first email in 1971.

Siya Chug (1998)
Young entrepreneur and CXO of Mara Phones, which debuted the first wholly made-in-Africa smartphone in 2019. 

Steve Jobs  (1955 - 2011)
Inventor, designer and co-founder of Apple and a pioneer of the microcomputer revolution of the 1970s and 1980s. It was under his guidance that the iPod, ­iPhone and iPad were launched and emerged as game changers in technology.

Gladys West (left), Maryam Mirzakhani (right)

Gladys West (1930)
American mathematician whose work was instrumental in the development of  GPS (Global Positioning System) technology. She was inducted into the United States Air Force Hall of Fame in 2018.

Maryam Mirzakhani (1977 – 2017)
Brilliant Iranian mathematician who was the first and only woman to date to win the Fields Medal, mathematics’ most prestigious prize. Mirzakhani was also the first Iranian woman to be elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

Julian Rios Cantú (1999)
Student and CEO of Higia Technologies. Cantú developed a bra that can detect early signs of breast cancer and was named “Global Student Entrepreneur of the Year 2017” by Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO).

Sir Tim Berners-Lee (1955)
Without Berners-Lee the world would look very different, because there would be no internet. This forward-thinking engineer and computer scientist invented the World Wide Web in 1989.

Johannes Gutenberg (left), Konrad Zuse (right)

Johannes Gutenberg (1400 – 1468) 
German inventor who introduced the movable type printing press to Europe, which started the printing revolution and became one of the most important inventions in history. 

Konrad Zuse (1910 – 1995)
German civil engineer and inventor who is regarded as the inventor of the modern computer. In the late 1930s Zuse invented the Z1, the world’s first electro–mechanical binary computer; and then in 1941 he unveiled the Z3, the world’s first programmable, digital computer. 

Sister Mary Kenneth Keller (1913 – 1985)
Catholic nun and computer science expert who helped develop the groundbreaking computer programming language BASIC.

William B. Smith Jr. (1929 – 1993)
An engineer who co-founded Six Sigma, a set of tools and techniques for process improvement, while working at Motorola. 

Published: September 2019

Meet more trailblazers

Images: Studio Pong for DHL Delivered.; Andreas Heddergott/TU Muenchen; IMAG/Schneider Press; Stanford University/Sipa USA/ddp; H.-D. Falkenstein/ddp; Raytheon/the Internet Hall of Fame/AP/dpa; Kulish,Kim S./action press; obs; Adrian Cadiz; Karsten Thielker/APN/dpa