A year ago only a handful of computer cognoscenti had heard of Netscape's Marc Andreessen or Sun Microsystems' James Gosling. Now they're considered to be computerdom's hottest visionaries. Where to find the Big Thinkers of tomorrow? Start here, with NEWSWEEK'S list of the 50 People Who Matter Most on the Internet. Many of them aren't household names, but they're supplying the vision, the tools and the content that are getting millions of people to turn on their modems.
In 1995 the 81-year-old founder of clnet, "The Computer Network," launched a cable-TV show and two Web sites, and lured big-name investors like Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen to help finance his burgeoning multimedia business. Minor's company is also at the forefront of new technologies that will let advertisers target their customers online. To trumpet his Web site, he's blanketed New York City buses with advertisements. Clnet doesn't yet deserve the name "network," but it might if Minor realizes his real goal: an "all computers, all the time" version of the Cable News Network.
Landweber was one of the founders of CSNET, an early network for computer scientists. Today the University of Wisconsin professor is president of the Internet Society, and he's rallying companies around the globe to maintain technical standards for the Net. His goal: to ensure that your computer will be able to talk to others. His trade organization, made up of 5,000 Internet pro-fessionMs from 120 countries, trains Third World engineers to create networks in their own countries, publishes a bimonthly magazine and is working to protect the term Internet from companies that are trying to copyright it.
CYBER ROBIN HOOD
A native of Belgium and graduate of Stanford Law School, Decrem is bridging the gap between the low-income neighborhoods of East Palo AIto and the information-rich companies next door, in Silicon Valley. His nonprofit Plugged In provides a vast computer lab with Internet classes, open 70 hours a week to kids and adults from the community. He has also acquired a $20,000 grant from the U.S. Commerce Department and recruited companies like Intel and Apple Computer to help make personal computers and online access available to low-income people.
Sen. Bill Bradley's former campaign manager is now the chief executive officer of Odyssey, a San Francisco-based market-research firm dedicated to tracking America's online behavior. His Homefront Survey, produced twice each year, provides a rare and reliable glimpse into the technology habit and hangouts of cyber-surfers everywhere. Odyssey's list of clients includes blue-chip companies like Microsoft, AT&T, all the online services and six of the seven regional phone companies.
Co-administrators of New York Online, a self-described "jazz joint on the digital frontier." Hip and irreverent, it draws in a young and intellectual crowd by featuring photo exhibits, magazines like Vibe and chats with stars like singer Tracy Chapman. Unlike the larger online services like Prodigy and America Online, it doesn't have a lot of banal chatter. You can look for an expanded Web page early next year at http://www.nyo.com/.
KING OF COOL
Thousands click in daily to InfiNet's "Cool Site of the Day," at http://cool.infi.net, which Davis launched in August 1994. Last month he left lnfiNet. The company has since replaced him, but his fans still complain online that "The King Is Gone." Not to worry: Davis says he'll return in January with a private business called Project Cool, aWeb site that will help explain how to integrate new technologies onto your home page.
PUBLISHER AND HOST
His Westport, Conn.-based Mecklermedia Corp. puts out the widely read technology magazines Internet World and Web Week. He also hosts the semiannual Internet World trade show, which has become the premier event for the Net literati. Last year's shows were the forum for major Internet strategy announcements from Oracle, Novell and Digital Equipment Corp. Chances are that next year's gatherings will be just as eventful.
Creator of Dilbert and the first cartoonist to print his e-mail address in his newspaper comic strip, Adams launched the Dilbert Zone this year at http ://www.unitedmedia.com/. With more than 800,000 "hits," or visitors, a day, it's among the most popular-and funni-est-sites on the Web. Add to that an electronic newsletter received by more than 70,000 Netizens, and a rapidly growing strip with its finger on the cyberpulse of the '90s, and you have the official cartoon of the Internet.
The 53-year-old former science teacher from South Dakota has found a second career in tracking new resources on the Internet. He runs Net-Happenings Digest, a daily e-mail newsletter read by 12,000 subscribers and countless more on the Web. Sackman's emphasis is on educational sites, which has earned him great popularity among schools around the world trying to keep up with the galloping growth of the Internet. He also gets points for keeping commercial sites to a minimum.
The creator of Pretty Good Privacy, a program for encoding computer messages, has seen his handiwork used around the world to transmit e-mail privately. That's enraged government agencies, like the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which fears it'll no longer be able to snoop on suspects. He's reportedly being investigated by the FBI for putting PGP on the Internet.
SILICON VALLEY'S MAIN MONEY MAN
He's the man with the Midas touch at Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, and Byers, the San Francisco venture capitalists. Doerr has bankrolled camac of the hottest companies on the Net. Examples: Netscape and Intuit. His next big hit, he predicts, will be @Home, the Internet service provider he's financing along with cable giant TeleCommunications Inc.
CEO of Oracle, Ellison is the father of the vaunted NC, the $500 cheapo computer that has lately become the most hotly debated piece of potential new hardware in the biz. Forget operating systems, memory and CD-ROMs. The brains of the NC reside on the Net. The only question: .will customers buy the concept?
You like sex, cultural chic, the urban scene. You want to write about it your way, and you want your own magazine. You have &80 to your name. What to do? Go online. This duo, theeditor in chief and publisher of Urban Desires, have created one of the best of the online "'zincs," or digital magazines. It's an exuberant me1ange of what people like best out of life, from sex and rock and roll to food, fine painting and scathing political commentary--in other words, urban passions nationwide.
You haven't heard of American Cybercast Network, but you soon will, thanks to this L.A. ad exec. He's the creator of the first (and hottest) virtual soap opera, The Spot, a sort of"Melrose Place" for the Internet set. ACN will launch half-a-dozen more cybershows over the next 18 months, from made-for-the-Net "PC dramas" to sci-fi shows. The Spot is already attracting more than 160,000 hits daily. Will it make money? The first ads come in January.
Can a journalist make it in cyberspace? Is there a future in virtual magazines? Look to Kinsley, former editor of The New Republic and liberal loud-mouth at "Crossfire," to be the guinea pig. The political pundit recently joined Microsoft Network. Mission: to do over the wires what he's done in prim and on TV. Publishers everywhere will be watching how he fares.
Last January, she drew the superheroine Cybergrrl and used the image on her home page at http://www. cybergrrl.com/. Since then the page has become a high-traffic repository for women's health and lifestyle information on the Web. Sherman, a former music-industry publicist, has also spread out onto two new sites, including Femina, a directory of everything female-oriented on the Net. Coming next year: a new site for women artists and Cybergrrl comics, which she says she'll pen herself.
NET SPEED DEMON
The newspaper heir and his Tele-Communications Inc.backed @Home Internet service should become players in '96. Why? Speed. The plan: to connect TCI's cable lines to home and office PCs and give customers download speeds 500 times faster than those of today's telephone modems. It will cost slightly more, but the former San Francisco Examiner editor and publisher is also looking to go into interactive programming.
WEBZINE EDITOR & PUBLISHER
Disillusioned by newspapering, the former arts editor at the San Francisco Examiner founded Salon. Backed by Adobe, Apple and Borders booksellers, Salon is the first professionally edited, literate Web-only magazine with a full-time crew of skilled journalists. Editor Talbot and publisher Zweig, a former Time Inc. marketing exee, have positioned their arts and ideas weekly as the first home for journalists on the Web.
Colligan, a former high-level Apple Computer executive, now heads Macromedia, whose new Shockwave for Director software program is the multimedia authoring tool of the moment. Macromedia recently teamed with Sun Micro-systems' Java programming language to allow artis? and others to create computer animation and 8-D drawings,
Chief technical officer Schmidt has been pushing networking for years. While others thought the new programming language Java should be used for interactive TV, Schmidt saw that it belonged on the Internet. He summoned Sun cofounder Joy to Palo Alto to help develop a strategy. Using Java, we can send not only information and e-mail over the Net, but also "applets," or mini-applications, that can run on our PCs.
Creator of Worlds Inc.'s AlphaWorld, a 3-D virtual community. The AlphaWorld technology will provide everything from online banking to a virtual play space for children in pediatric hospitals. http://www.worlds.net.
Head of the nonpartisan Voters Telecommunications Watch, an organization promoting the use of the Web and e-mail in political activity for the '96 election. Safdar recently developed a Technology Pledge Questionnaire that asks candidates for their stands on issues like pa-rental responsibility versus government regulation of free speech online, the regulation of still emerging electronic markets and governmental encouragement of the development of secure networks.
Parks founded VoteLink, an innovatire and potentially historic Web page that. lets people vote on major issues of the day. http://www.votelink.com./ votelink/ns/home.html.
He's a professor of communications at the University of California, San Diego, and publisherof the monthly e-mail newsletter The Network Observer, the insider's guide to the culture and politics of the Internet. The list, read by savvy Netizens, is probably the most interesting and useful e-mail newsletter around. Topics include community networking, liberal and libertarian views of privacy, computer user groups and the design of genres for new media. Home page: http://weber.csd.edu/ agre/tno.html.
He's the editor in chief of FEED, one of the most intelligent of the online magazines. Johnson aspires to create The New Republic of cyber-space. Watch out, Michael Kinsley and Microsoft. You may have more money behind you, but FEED is coming after you. URL: http://www. feedmag.com.
His job as director of the Center for Media Education is to advocate equitable and affordable access to the Information Superhighway for all citizens. Funded by the Carnegie Corporation and the Pew Charitable Trust as well as the MacArthur Foundation, the center is currently campaigning to help ensure that children, especially those who are economically disadvantaged, have access to computers in school.
His titles: director, Center for Information, Technology, & Society and dean of Computer & Information Sciences, Athena Virtual Online University. Priest is the organizer of LINCT (Learning and Information Networks for Community Telecomputing), a model service for low-income users in western Massachusetts. The former MIT professor is an online activist with connections to the White House and a real presence on the Net.
If life has become a little more difficult for the cyberspies at the National Security Agency, part of the reason may be Mare Ro-tenberg. Botenberg led the campaign against the Clipper encryption scheme last year and continues to battle Big Brother and Big Business in eyzz betspace. Formerly with Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, Rotenberg now directs the Electronic Privacy information Center, and he is often on the front lines of emerging civil-liberties issues. http://www.epic.org.
Largely responsible for the development of the corporate Web site. The 28-year-old founded San Francisco-based Organic Online, a vanguard site-development house, two summers ago in his bedroom. Today he commands 22 full-time employees and blue-chip accounts (MCI, Saturn, Volvo) that pay him to push the envelope into realms like McDonald's and Levi's "lifestyle" sites, where shameless promotional pitches take a back seat to fun features.
WEB PAGE GEARHEAD
A former Maryland vegetable farmer, Nelson moved to California and started Wired magazine's Web site, HotWired, and helped his brother Jonathan start Organic Online. Now Organic's head tech geck, the 26-year-old is one of the leading forces behind making seamless multimedia on the Web accessible to anyone, regardless of browser type or connection speed.
As director of the Information Infrastructure Project at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, he's possibly the nation's leading thinker on intellectual-property issues in digital format, a key issue for the next century. He also co-edited the recent book "Public Access to the Internet" and edited an earlier book, "Building Information Infrastructure."
WEB PAGE EMCEE
Keeper of Voyager Co.'s very cool Web page, which features CDLink, the company's online liner notes, just like on album covers. The Web site hosts The Paris Review, Laurie Anderson and The Guerrilla Girls. The Web site also serves as the vehicle for the sale of Voyager's CD-ROMs and laser discs. In January, Voyager will begin publication of The Narrative Corpse, a serial collaboration by 69 comix artists, which will take place over the course of 69 days at http://www. voyagerco.com.
The head of Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory's Network Research Group, Jacobson is a techie who has long toiled behind the scenes, working to reduce congestion and engineer ways to make the Net faster and more efficient. Fa-mously humble, Jacobson is one of the technical wizards behind the MBone, the Internet's multicast feature that has carried Rolling Stones concerts.
Postel is the Internet's true unsung hero. In 1969 he was a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, and was present at the birth of the Department of Defense's Arpanet, the forerunner to the Internet. Postel is the longtime editor of Requests for Comments, the series of technical notes that create standards. Revered by all and sundry Internet movers and shakers, Postel is one of the people who make the Net work.
PROTECTOR OF PRIVACY
The head of Community Connexion, a Berkeley, Calif.-based Internet provider with a focus on privacy. It supports anonymity and runs a Web site that presents T shirts to people who expose security flaws in Net-based software from the likes of Netscape or Microsoft.
Operator of penet, the notorious Finland-based "anonymous remailer" that allows people to send mail and post messages with no return addresses. Helsingius was busted by the Finnish police on behalf of the Scientologists after one celebrated "anonymous" posting.
The energetic head of Maxis, the software maker that's known for its popular Sims, the all-absorbing SimCity, SimLife and SimTower. Look for Braun to start moving his world of fantastic simulations tothe Internet sometime next year.
Goldberg is a former Rolling Stone editor now in charge of Addicted to Noise, an online music magazine that's a haven for big-name rock critics--and music fans. The 'zinc carries the best music columns around--even better than what you'll find in print.
Shotton is the Macintosh version of Marc Andreessen, with-our the personal fortune. He makes an Internet browser for the Mac and writes Macintosh Web server software, making him a hero in the Mac community.
The Vanderbilt University management professor keeps us honest. Hoffman is best known for discrediting and debunking the infamous and fundamentally flawed Marty Rimm study of online pornography. A scrupulous Net market researcher and analyzer of data, she recently challenged Nielsen estimates of the number of people using the Net.
She may be the best-kept secret at Yahoo!, the company that produces the wildly popular Web search engine. Trained in library science, Srinivasan is the one who decides how the thousands of Web pages submitted to Yahoo! should be categorized and classified, making it as intuitive, expandable and maintainable as possible.
They produce SUCK, an irreverent, hilariously cynical take on the Web, updated weekly. a surprise commercial success that was originally mintended as a parody, SUCK is a popular source of jaded opinion of the worst sites on the World Wide Web. URL: http://www.suck.com.
THE NET'S CONSCIENCE
As assistant secretary of commerce and director of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration , Irving is one of the highest-ranking African-Americans in the Clinton administration ans a key spokesperson for equity issues on the Info Highway
Dubbed the world's greatest programmer, Gosling created the Java programming language, perhaps Sun Microsystems' greatest invention ever. Java, which alows programs to be transmitted to any computer from the desktop PC.
Formerly of Microsoft, Glase went out on his own and created Progressive Networks, the company that does Real Audio, a program that brings instantaneous sound from the Internet to your desktop. It could turn the Internet into the radio for the 21st century.