All Time Top 10 Lists of
People Who Changed the World

There are countless people who changed the world, so I figured I'd break them into categories. My criteria is simple, those who have the biggest positive impact. My knowledge and perceptions are influenced by western thought. However, you are free to write your own list HERE.

So, here we go.

People who Changed Politics:

  1. Mahatma Gandhi - This guy is at the top of my list. He popularized the non-violent movement. He stopped eating "sugar" only so he could tell a child to give up sugar. He sure lives by the phrase, "be the change you wish to see".
  2. Queen Elizabeth I - Queen of one of the most successful monarchs, who defeated the Spanish Armada which laid the foundation for the British Empire. She probably did more to change the perception of what women can do than anyone else on the planet.
  3. Augustus Caesar - This guy took the the first "Democratic Republic", the Roman Empire, to the big time (it was already big, partly thanks to his great uncle Julius). However, his focus was building "internal" strength which allowed technologies such as roads and agriculture to flourish. Technologies we still use today.
  4. George Washington - First president of the United States, but who knew at the time what kind of country they were building. It went from a fragile country to the "800 pound gorilla" in 200 short years.
  5. Nelson Mandela - He was a prisoner in South Africa and became the first black president in South Africa. Who would've thought a person sent wrongfully to prison could be a president. He's one of the most oppressed people who changed the world.
  6. Abraham Lincoln - A president who fought to give the country heart. One of the most influential people that helped abolished slavery.
  7. Winston Churchill - Outgunned, out manned he persevered against the Nazi war machine. Any person taking a stand against all odds has my handshake.
  8. Anwar El Sadat - Third president of Egypt that took the country to a whole new direction of bringing power to the people. He knew there would be a good chance he would be assassinated for trying to bring peace in the region.
  9. Martin Luther King Jr. - Greatly influenced by Thoreau and Gandhi for the non-violent movement. I couldn't imagine life before his influence.
  10. Socrates - Considered to be the founder of western thought. He wasn't a political leader 'per se', but his influence is beyond measure. He was assassinated for just asking tough questions.

People Who Changed the World in Technology:

  1. Einstein - Reinvented 20th century physics with over 300 papers. He actually spent 10 years figuring out the Theory of Relativity (e=mc^2) and the paper was just 3 pages long. Definitely one of the smartest people who changed the world in science.
  2. Sir Isaac Newton - Thanks to an apple falling from a tree, he came up with the law of gravity. Developed theories which became classical or Newtonian Physics. We still use his equations to this day.
  3. Charles Darwin - Credited with the theory of Evolution. Who would've thought we evolved from apes?
  4. Galileo Galilei - He is considered the "Father of Science". He went against the Catholic church for his ideas and was placed under house arrest. Amazing that his ideas actually came through.
  5. Louis Pasteur - First to prove the Germ Theory, and invented the pasteurization process. Almost all of our milk has been cooked; we have him to thank for it.
  6. Bi Sheng - Considered to be the inventor of paper. The invention was like the internet at the time. It allowed people to exchange and pass down ideas. Only thing is, the Chinese government banned the printing press at the time. To me, he's one of the most underrated people who changed the world.
  7. Neils Bohr - discovered fundamental structure of the Atom which paved the way for quantum physics. I still remember the Bohr model discussed in my high school chemistry class.
  8. Werner Heisenberg - The Nobel prize science winner for the foundations Quantum mechanics. Guys like him are the reasons we have computers.
  9. Nikola Tesla - Best known for inventing the AC-Alternating Current, but also invented the radio. Competitor, Thomas Edison was probably a better 'businessman', but Tesla's standards is the one that prevailed for 'lighting the world' with alternating currents.
  10. Sigmund Freud - A psychologist best known for his unconscious mind theories, which was later discovered to be composed of about 80% our brain.

People who Changed the World with the Written Word:

  1. William Shakespeare - English poet and play writer who had more influence the English language than any other. Known for writing tragedies such as King Lear, Hamlet and Macbeth.
  2. Charles Dickens - English writer who wrote numerous western classics such as: The Adventures of Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations and more. Sadly, I haven't read any of them yet, but his influence is seen in other media.
  3. George Orwell - An English novelist who wrote 1984 and Animal Farm referred to justice and totalitarianism. It amazes me in a way that this is actually a public school book, which is technically run by the government. He's either one of the most paranoid people who changed the world, or we are in trouble.
  4. J.R.R.Tolkien - The classics Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit has revived the popularity of Fantasy.
  5. Sun Tzu - The military strategist who wrote The Art of War. His influence stretched from ancient China to modern military figures such as Norman Schwarzkopf and Mao Zedong. The underlying theme of the Art of War is about 'managing power'.
  6. Voltaire - French writer known for free trade, civil liberties and freedom of religion.
  7. Leo Tolstoy - Wrote the masterpieces War and Peace and Anna Karenina. His work, The Kingdom of God Is Within You is said to have inspired the nonviolent movement for Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
  8. Mark Twain - His birth name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens known for his humorist writing style. American writer who wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyerand The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. One of the most comical people who changed the world of literature.
  9. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - A Scottish writer known for his Sherlock Holmes stories. He's the guy that popularized the crime fiction genre that made it fun for all of us.
  10. J.K.Rowling - Her Harry Potter series has made her a billionaire. Her books may rival the Bible in sales; have you SEEN all those kids with those books?

If you COMPLETELY disagree with this, go ahead to share who you think have the biggest impact in the world.

People who Changed the World with Entertainment:

  1. Walt Disney - The man with the vision and execution to see way beyond just the hit animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. From there, his company has built an empire of mega-theme parks, television, cable, vacation resorts, water parks, 8 movie studios, and another 39 hotels.
  2. Sir Charlie Chaplin - He made the funniest critically acclaimed silent films. He received a "Special Award" for the First Academy award ceremony for The Circus. Forty three years later, he received the longest standing ovation at the Oscars for receiving an honorary film award. Go to YouTube you'll see his classics; I thought the 'Table Ballet' was hilarious.
  3. Geroge Lucas - In the special effects business, he's one of the most influential people who changed the world. After I saw the original Star Wars movie in the theater back-to-back 3 times, my life changed.
  4. James Cameron - Film director, writer, producer of not one, but TWO of the top grossing films of all time: Avatar and Titanic. The two movies total to a staggering $4 billion in box office sales alone. At age 23 he, was driving trucks and bought a video camera after watching the movie Star Wars. The rest is history.
  5. John Lennon - The lead writer/singer for the Beatles, who's influence in rock is set in stone. Not only are his songs considered the best in rock 'n roll, his message of peace during the Vietnam war resonated with millions.
  6. Stephen Spielberg - Film Director that redefined what a film director can do. I never knew a person could direct, produce, and write so many hit movies in different genres. He directed films such as E.T., Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Saving Private Ryan, Minority Report, etc.
  7. Alfred Hitchhock - English filmmaker who broke all the rules. He killed off 'the' star within the first 25 minutes! I never thought I'd be a little paranoid of birds growing up; I have "The Birds" to thank for that.
  8. Elvis Presley - This guy invented Rock 'n Roll. Even after 50 years, he's still walking people down the aisle in Vegas.
  9. Michael Jackson - He practically created the Pop genre. For better for worse, we can thank him for the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, and N'sync.
  10. Katherine Hepburn - Arguably the greatest female actress in the film history. It doesn't matter if the movies are in black and white or color. She is also well known for her tremendous charitable work.

People Who Changed the World in Business:

  1. Steve Jobs - Talk about making a comeback; he invents a user friendly computer for the masses, gets kicked out of his own company, then came back to reinvent media and mobile computing. Definitely one of the most technically creative people who changed the world.
  2. Henry Ford - Founder of Ford Motor Company. He brought the car to the masses with the Model T Ford and the assembly line.
  3. Thomas Edison - Inventor best known for the incandescent light bulb. In addition, he started 14 companies including General Electric.
  4. Richard Branson - British founder of the Virgin brand, with over 350 companies. He's probably one of the most adventurous people who changed the business world.
  5. W. Edwards Deming - American management consultant who increased quality of production in the U.S. and Japan. Amazingly he was a celebrity in Japan, but only on his deathbed did the U.S. recognize him.
  6. Jack Welch - CEO/Chairman of General Electric for 20 years, the same one Edison founded. He pulled himself out of retirement to close a merger with Honeywell, only to be rejected by the EU.
  7. Michael Dell - Founder of Dell, which was the first computer company to use Just-In-Time manufacturing. He started a mail order business, with a goal to take on IBM. Turns out he was a bit too ambitious; IBM sold their PC division to Lenovo.
  8. Andy Grove - Founder of Intel who enabled computers. "Only the Paranoid survive". Is that a fun way to live?
  9. Ted Turner - Media mogul best known for as the founder CNN and philanthropy. Currently he has the largest Bison herd in Montana to supply his meat to his Ted's Montana Grill restaurant chain. Bison releases far less methane than cows do, which is better for the environment.
  10. Sam Walton - Founder of Wal-mart, the largest retailer in the world. I can't say that Walmart may be "all good" in terms of impact, but they have made things affordable for many people who aren't as well off.

People Who Changed the World with the Internet:

(I don't know of any one person who invented the internet, it was invented by DARPA. These are the ones that influenced the way we use the 'net as of this writing)

  1. Larry Page and Sergey Brin - Not very often your company becomes a verb in the dictionary. Just Google it. Their mission, "to organize the world's information," has affected just about everyone in the world. They are currently the most influential people who changed the world of computing.
  2. Marc Andreessen - His creation, the Netscape browser, took the world by a storm and accelerated internet adoption. The internet was around for a while but he made it universally usable. He created the first modern browser, Netscape. He developed the concept at the University of Illinois and built the software. I went there when the internet was starting to take off; cool times.
  3. David Filo and Jerry Yang - The granddaddy of the internet is already showing age. They were the first company to define the internet, before other 'technology' giants. Most of our first non-educational email address was probably from there.
  4. Bill Gates - Microsoft's mission used to be 'a computer in every home'. That alone enabled them to connect the world. He is rumored to have said, "The internet is just a passing fad," in 1995 at a press conference, but that ship has long sailed.
  5. Bram Cohen - Creator of BitTorrent. He may be a big reason why the "media industry" has declined. Who wouldn't want their music, movies, books for free?
  6. Mark Zuckerberg - Reinvented the way we stay in touch, with Facebook (as of this writing). Creator of the biggest social network in the world enabled us to stay in touch with more people then ever. He's one of the youngest people who changed the world.
  7. Jack Ma - Founder of Alibaba, the world's largest B2B company. If you can't find someone to manufacture your idea, it probably can't be done.
  8. Craig Newmark - Founder of Craigslist, which is taking media companies by a storm. His website is simple, it offers free ads to the people.
  9. Jimmy Wales - Founder of Wikipedia, enabled a Global Encyclopedia with over 3 million English entries. May not be the most accurate, but it's a great starting point for information.
  10. Steve Chen and Chad Hurley - Founder of YouTube, which received honors of 2007's TIME magazine's 'Man of the Year'. If you want to be famous, this is one way to go. However, there is more video content on there than all the major american TV networks combined.

People Who Changed the World in Sports:

  1. Pele - I don't watch soccer but, even decades after retirement, his impact in soccer (or football) is remembered. I played soccer as a kid and always loved the famous 'bicycle kick', which I never dared to try.
  2. Michael Jordan - Being from Chicago, it's been great having him on 'our' team. His nickname is 'Airness' who redefined athleticism in basketball (side note, he owns over 1500 shoes). He's one of the most athletic people who changed the world.
  3. Billie Jean King - Won 39 Grand Slam and 695 tennis matches. She's the first female athlete to break $100,000 in prize money and put professional male tennis player Bobby Briggs to shame beating him in a game of tennis.
  4. Tiger Woods - Personal issues aside, this guy has redefined modern golf. When he plays at a tournament, he at least doubles the number of spectators.
  5. Wayne Gretzky - Nicknamed "The Great One" who redefined hockey with speed and scoring. The only hockey player that couldn't be stopped, even when triple-teamed.
  6. Jackie Robinson - First black man to play in major league baseball. He paved the way for future black athletes in sports. In his 10 years of baseball, he played in 6 world series.
  7. Jim Thorpe - This guy is amazing! He played professional American football, baseball and basketball. If that wasn't enough, he won Olympic gold medals in the decathlon and the pentathlon. One of the most versatile people who changed the world of sports.
  8. Mohammed Ali - Arguably the greatest boxer of all time, 'nuff said.
  9. Vince Lombardi - The coach who took American football to a whole new level taking strategic thinking and motivation at a whole new game.
  10. Babe Didrikson Zaharias - Played professional golf and won three gold medals in hurdles and the javelin. It was her spunk that put her on this list. She played sports between the 1930-1950's when women weren't supposed to sweat.

So there you have it, my top people who changed the world. What do you think?

Who do you think are the
Top People Who Changed the World?

The Top People Who Changed the world I listed are no means complete. I am likely to have a more "western" influence in my thinking. So, who do you think deserves be on the list? I would love to hear your thoughts, but please list A MINIMUM OF 20 PEOPLE and and a quick reason why for each person. (You will have YOUR OWN page, not just a comment section).

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