It's easy to look at a laptop, an iPod, or a laser printer as nothing more than a tool to get work done with or to while away your free time on, but these and many other high-tech devices didn't fall off a tree. They emerged following years of hard work - and in some cases, an entire career devoted to a single technology - by inspired researchers, designers, and developers.
itbusiness' list of technology visionaries includes the guy who invented a way to store data in a portable form--and who almost got demoted as a result. It recognizes the woman who popularized the term "bug" after a moth flew into a computer relay. And it acknowledges a genius who might have saved modern gaming by inventing Jump Man.
So it's time to pay homage where homage is due. Here's the 50 most important people in the recent history of technology--the most critical players (including a few forgotten heroes) who've been instrumental in crafting the last 50 years of technical innovation.