It's sad to see what the United States has come to. From the days of engineers like George Rotsky guiding the editorial direction of EE Times, we now someone has a BA in Social Science from a Japanese company, with no engineering background.
Let us not forget, that through the efforts of Richard Wiley, Chairman of the FCC Advisory Committee on Advanced Television Services, who managed the Paik’s and Hundt’s, as well as innumerable politicians, corporate executives and hot-shot engineers, the Grand Alliance and all-digital HDTV came into existence. Mr. Wiley facilitated the impossible – the design of a super horse on steroids!
In keeping with the "Greatest Hits" theme of this survey (borrowed from the music industry), I'd like to add to the list a few names that come to my mind that were key (pun intended) to advancing the technology of the music industry:
Batter, Warner Bros takes my vote for satirizing the field of Physics. In the popularizer category you suggested, Gene Roddenberry would clearly be deserving of top dog. Who here doesn't know who this man is?
I suggest the co-inventors of the high-efficiency switching-mode Class-E RF power amplifier: Nathan O. Sokal (the father) and Alan D. Sokal (the son). The Class-E amplifier can operate at nearly 100% efficiency, e.g., 96% to 98%.
I totally agree - we can't have an engineering top 40 without engineerings' gratest comic and populizer. That would be like having a Hollywood top 40 without Mel Blanc, Fred Quimby, or the Hanna-Barbera team.
Well then, Linus Torvalds must be included, too. His technical credits are much more significant than Jobs' and Gates'---just consider the literal lines of code he personally contributed to the Linux kernel that you will find in all those phones, computers, network devices, DVD players, TVs and whatnot.
He also has a stellar personal integrity record---his fairness and good judgement are legendary.
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 ...