- Akio Morita (Sony)
- Stephen Wolfram (Wolfram Research, Mathematica)
- Linus Torvalds (Linux)
- Marc Andreesen (Mosaic, Netscape, other software ventures)
- Andy Bechtolsheim (Sun, Google)
- I also would like to suggest a symbol for a company: The VLSI Technology Unsung Hero(first fully integrated EDA tool suite, ASIC model, library developer including compilers and standard cells, fab, ASSP innovator and leader in chip sets for PC, cell phones, co-founder ARM and a few other firsts including incubating many technology leaders in the semiconductor industry). Many heroes there so Douglas Fairbairn can represent them. Disclosure: I worked there :-)
Here's a name that I think deserves consideraton:
He spearheaded the R&D effort at Cyrix that resulted in an X86 processor (around 1995/1996) that actually outperformed the equivalent Intel product(s).
Even though I'm not an engineer, I thought it was quite an engineering accomplishment. Don't hold me to this, but I think the entire Cyrix design team was 15 folks or so.
Great example of a tiny upstart disrupting before it became fashionable.
I have no idea what happened to Mark Bluhm. Steve Tobak who knows how to articulate a compelling narrative and was a VP at Cyrix at this time might be a good resource to tap.
I think you're looking for individual names, rather than inventions and discoveries, which makes the job a little harder. Some innovations cannot e attributed to one person, yet they are very major milestones.
Robert Metcalfe can't be overlooked. He invented a practical protocol for a packet-switched asynchronous network - Ethernet.
Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf. Also Jon Postel and Steve Crocker. The fathers of the Internet.
Harry Nyquist, Ralph Hartley, and Claude Shannon for describing the theoretical limits of digital communications channels. In precise terms. It's what permits digital communications channels to be designed, rather than guesstimated using trial and error.
And perhaps Martin Cooper of Motorola and Joel Engel of Bell Labs, for creating practical cellular telephony (1973). Although theoretical work had been going on as far back as 1947, at Bell Labs.
Technologies - Meta Pad from IBM. This was once a concept and a failed product. If all go well, the concept could be proliferated especially with Asus showing the Padphone implementation since early CY2011
The Other Tesla David Blaza5 comments I find myself going to Kickstarter and Indiegogo on a regular basis these days because they have become real innovation marketplaces. As far as I'm concerned, this is where a lot of cool ...