Roy L. Clay Sr. joined Hewlett-Packard in the 1950s, set up the company's first computer lab and was involved in creating its first computers. Later he helped venture capitalists decide on investments in startups like Compaq and Intel. He is in the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame.
Research by Frank McCoy
Frank S. Greene Jr. was a venture capitalist, operating business executive, engineer and technologist. In 1971 he founded Technology Development Corp., a software company for testing electronic systems. Under his direction as president and CEO for 14 years, TDC became a $30 million company and completed an IPO in 1985. Greene died in 2009.
John Thompson left IBM to lead Symantec, a computer-security company. During his 10 years at Symantec, revenue went from $600 million to $6 billion. He later became a tech investor but stepped into the CEO position at Virtual Instruments, which helps big companies maximize their technology assets.
Marc Hannah was a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering at Stanford University, where he focused on technology to produce high-quality graphics. His professor Jim Clark was impressed enough by the work of Hannah and several other grad students to join them in creating Silicon Graphics, whose powerful workstations revolutionized movie special effects. Hannah is now involved with a real estate development firm.
Gerald A. Lawson, a self-taught engineer, came up with a brilliant idea: instead of a game console for each game, why not make the software removable? His invention of the game cartridge would make the thousands of games for PlayStation, Game Boy and the Xbox possible. He died earlier this year at age 70.
Mark E. Dean: IBM Fellow; Vice President, IBM Almaden Research Center; Senior Location Executive, Silicon Valley
Mark E. Dean oversees more than 400 scientists and engineers doing exploratory and applied research in various hardware, software and services areas, including nanotechnology, materials science, storage systems, data management, Web technologies, workplace practices and user interfaces. An engineer by training, Dean has more than 25 years' experience — all with IBM — where he has been central to the design of a wide range of products.
Kenneth L. Coleman is chairman of Accelrys, an R&D software-and-services company. With more than 500 employees and $80 million in revenues, Accelrys sells to companies that use science as a differentiating factor. Coleman founded ITM Software, an enterprise-software company. He was executive vice president at Silicon Graphics and vice president of product development at Activision. He spent 10 years at Hewlett-Packard, where he held several management positions.
Omar Wasow founded New York On Line, one of the first online discussions groups for African Americans. He later started Black Planet, which evolved into the largest social networking site. He has tutored Oprah Winfrey on using the Internet and is now working on his Ph.D. at Harvard. Wasow is an adviser to The Root.
Tristan Walker, a native New Yorker, creates alliances for one of the Internet's hottest startups. Walker has built ties to Bravo, MTV, CNN, the NBA and other big players for a company that combines location services, social networking and games. He was valedictorian at Stony Brook University and has an MBA from Stanford. Walker was among The Root 100 honorees of 2010 and 2011.
Charles Phillips heads Infor, a $2 billion Atlanta-based provider of software to midsize companies. He is the former co-president of Oracle, the largest U.S. database company. Phillips, a former Marine, was a renowned tech-industry analyst before Larry Ellison persuaded him to join Oracle.
In eight years, Shellye Archambeau has built her Palo Alto, Calif., startup to provide software that helps large financial, pharmaceutical and other companies meet the complex compliance requirements of regulators. With 400 employees and a blue-chip list of customers, MetricStream could take the leap into the volatile stock market or be acquired.
Stacy Spikes is a film executive who has taken the plunge into technology. He co-founded and heads MoviePass.com, a startup company that wants to change your moviegoing experience. For a flat $50 monthly fee, you can reserve tickets to as many films as you want and get into the theater by flashing a code on your smartphone.
Kingsley Harris was an art director at a large agency before he got bit by the tech bug. Pistashio.com is a site that lets you "stash" things (URLs, names of products and so on), set reminders for yourself or share them with your friends.
Ty Ahmad-Taylor worked at the New York Times, Comcast and Viacom before launching his own startup in 2008. FanFeedr.com helps sports fanatics keep track of their favorite teams and players and share their passion with friends via social networks.
Denmark West went to BET after being executive vice president and chief of global digital media at MTV. West, who holds both an A.B. and an MBA from Harvard, worked in investment banking before moving into entertainment media.
Ian Spalter develops mobile and social networking applications at R/GA, part of the Interpublic Group of advertising agencies. Spalter was vice president of product management and user-experience design for Community Connect, the company that created the ethnic social networking sites BlackPlanet.com, AsianAvenue.com and MiGente.com.
Kay Madati's long and rich involvement in tech companies makes him a perfect choice to help Facebook build its presence in the entertainment space. He was vice president of audience experience at CNN, and before that, vice president of marketing at Community Connect. A graduate of Georgetown University, he is a native of Tanzania.
Window Snyder is a leading expert on cybersecurity and privacy. She co-authored Threat Modeling, a standard text on the subject of Internet and computer security. Before joining Apple, she headed security for Mozilla Corp., which produces the Firefox browser. Snyder also worked for Microsoft.
In her 20 years in the industry, Lisa Gelobter has been involved with the advent of several pioneering Internet technologies, including Shockwave, the genesis of animation on the Web and the emergence of online video. Gelobter also helped launch Hulu, the online video service that started as a joint venture between NBC and Fox, and is currently head of digital technology and operations for Black Entertainment Television.