Preliminary Top 100 Most Influential List

by Jonathan Hobratsch

The following list of names comes from my collection of Influential People blogs. I have narrowed the list down to 160+ individuals who have a true shot at making the top 100 list. This means 62 of the following people will not make the list. Of these 162, I will divide it into people who are virtually guaranteed a spot, and a list of people that must be argued in.

I should note that one addition, the chief negotiators of the Sykes-Picot Agreement have been added to the list. They were not included in my previous lists by mistake.  

Everyone on this list must pass the following criteria: a) done something to significantly and permanently alter the world, b) left an influence that is still greatly felt in 2016, and c) the influence must be directly or indirectly worldwide, and not just regional or national. 

Tier 1 – “Untouchables” 

The following 25 people (or groups of people) will appear on the top 100 list no matter what. I can find few sound arguments to exclude them. 

Huangdi (“Yellow Emperor”) (????bc-2598bc) created the first centralized state and initiated Chinese civilization.

Moses (c. 1390bc-c.1270bc) the most important prophet in Judaism. He is also important in Christianity and in Islam.

Confucius (551bc-479bc) his ideas were developed into a system known as Confucianism, which form the basis of Chinese tradition and belief. He came up with the “Golden Rule” about 500 years before Jesus did.

Plato (c.425bc-c.347bc) founded the Academy of Athens, which was the first Western institution of higher education. His philosophy laid the groundwork for Western philosophy, political theory, science, religion and spirituality. He taught Aristotle.

Aristotle (384bc-322bc) created the first comprehensive system of Western philosophy, which also encompassed the fields of political theory, science, logic, linguistics, the arts, ethics and metaphysics. Some consider him to be the first true scientist. He influenced Christian, Islamic, and Jewish religious theory and was arguably the primary inspiration for the Renaissance. He was the tutor of Alexander the Great.

Euclid (c.330bc-c.270bc) is the “Father of Geometry.” He founded Euclidean geometry. He also wrote the single most influential mathematical textbook in history.

Jesus (c.4bc-c.30ad) the central figure of Christianity, which is currently the world’s largest religion.

Paul of Tarsus (c.5-c.67) developed the ideas of Jesus into what is now called Pauline Christianity, which is the near unanimous interpretation of the concept of Jesus Christ by most Christians. He is also considered the primary figure in spreading the religion outside Palestine and presenting what was a Jewish Christianity in a way that would make it palatable to the Hellenistic world of the early Roman Empire.

Cai Lun (50-120) invented paper.

Muhammad (c.570-632) founder of Islam, which quickly spread throughout Arabia in his lifetime. Islam is currently the second largest religion.

Fatima al-Fihri (c. 859) founded the first university.

Johannes Gutenberg (c.1398-1468) for introducing mechanical moving type to Europe with his printing press. Also, he was the originator of numerous printing press contributions. He is famous for creating and printing the Gutenberg Bible, the first famous mass-produced book in history.

Christopher Columbus (c.1450-1506) for initiating the colonization and migration of Western Civilization onto the Western Hemisphere.

Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) formulated that the Sun was at the center of solar system, rather than the Earth. In economics, he also came up with the quantity theory of money, which stated that the money supply is has a direct and proportional relationship with the price level of goods.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) is the theologian that most influenced the Protestant Reformation by his aggressive critique of the failings of the Catholic Church. He is also considered the founder of the Lutheran Church; although, he died believing he was still a Catholic.  He translated the Bible from Latin to the vernacular, so that ordinary literate people could read the Bible for themselves.

Isaac Newton (1642-1727) laid the foundation for classical mechanics, developed the field of optics and was one of the two independent inventors of calculus. He formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation. He also built the first practical refracting telescope.

Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794) is the “Father of Modern Chemistry.” He discovered the role that oxygen plays in combustion. He also recognized and named oxygen and hydrogen. He changed chemistry from a qualitative to a quantitative science.

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) for his contributions to the theory of evolution. He came up with the concept of natural selection.

Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) the founder of the science of genetics.

Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) invented the first practical telephone.

Orville Wright (1871-1948) and Wilbur Wright (1867-1912) invented the first successful airplane.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) for developing the general theory of relativity, which is the current description of gravitation in modern physics. . He is also known for the special theory of relativity, which addresses space and time.

Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) initiated World War II and created the holocaust. WWII led to a weaker, more peaceful Europe. The holocaust led to the creation Israel. Hitler’s Nazism is often used as an example to misrepresent both nationalistic conservatives ideologies and Socialism.

Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958), James Watson (1928) and Francis Crick (1916-2004) for discovering the structure of DNA.

Tim Berners-Lee (1955) invented the World Wide Web.


Tier 2 – “Fight for Inclusion”

This second tier includes 139 people (or groups of people). Only 75 of these 139 will make the list. All of these individuals will have to be argued in. Who do you think should be included?

Sargon of Akkad (????bc-2215bc) created the first multiethnic, centrally-ruled empire.

Hammurabi (c.1810bc-1750bc) for the earliest code of laws.

Homer (c. 850bc) for the first known literature of Europe and the inspiration for epic poetry.

Thales (c.624bc-c.546bc) is considered the founder of Western philosophy. He is also the first known person to use deductive reasoning in geometry. He is the first known person to predict a solar eclipse, an event that is sometimes regarded as the traditional start of Western philosophy; although, philosophy undoubtedly started as soon as humans could reason.

Pythagoras (c.570bc-c.495bc) for the Pythagorean theorem

Socrates (c.470bc-399bc) originator the Socratic method, which was an original and crucial development in the art of critical thinking. Socrates was the primary influence of Plato’s ideas.

Gautama Buddha (c.480bc-c.400bc) is the founder of Buddhism.

Hippocrates (c.460bc-c.370bc) is the “Father of Western Medicine.” He founded the Hippocratic School of Medicine, which made the study of medicine a distinct field of science.

Alexander the Great (356bc-323bc) His invasions spread Greek culture (Hellenism) to their greatest extent, which is considered the prime example of cultural diffusion. This would include the Hellenization of Judaism, which is why the New Testament is in Greek, and why many of the concepts of Christianity are Hellenistic, rather than Jewish. Founded Alexandria, Egypt.

Ashoka (304bc-232bc) conquered nearly all of the Indian subcontinent and converted to Buddhism, which inspired others to do the same, and led to the spread of Buddhism outside of India.

Archimedes (c.287bc-c.212bc) anticipated modern calculus and analysis. He founded hydrostatics and statics. He is credited with the invention of the screw, block and pully system and the principles of the lever.

Cicero (106bc-43bc) influenced European prose literature and ideas with his humanism and political oratory. The Renaissance and the Enlightenment were a return to his ideas. He was an influence on both the American and French Revolutions and the governments they created.

Julius Caesar (100bc-44bc) brought an end to the Roman Republic, allowing for the rise of the Roman Empire. Also, Julian calendar and the terms Caesar,  Czar and Kaiser.

Augustus Caesar (63bc-14ad) founder of the Roman Empire.

Constantine the Great (c.272-337) his conversion to Christianity assured the survival of Christianity and for its dominance in the Western world. It led to the power and influence of the popes, who had very little power previously.

Umar ibn al-Khattab (c.583-644) expanded his Islamic caliphate into an Empire, ensuring the survival and expansion of Islam.

Ali (601-661) is considered the first Imam by Shia Muslims.

Charlemagne (c.742-814) laid the foundation for modern France and Germany.

Pope Urban II (c.1042-1099) initiated the Crusades.

Omar Khayyam (1048-1131) for laying down the principals of algebra. He created the theory of proportions in geometry. He also wrote poetry, which is still popular today.

Saladin (1137-1193) blocked a European Christian invasion of the Middle East, created a comparatively unified Arab World. Inspires Arab Leaders wishing to rest free from overt Western Influence.

Genghis Khan (c.1162-1227) founded the Mongol Empire, which would eventually spread across Asia, displacing populations, altering the continental gene pool and increased global trade from Europe to China.

Giotto (c.1266-1337) for his groundbreaking, solidly three-dimensional artwork.

Petrarch (1304-1374) considered the “Father of Humanism,” and arguably the single most important figure in initiating the Renaissance with his discovery of Cicero’s letters. He also sparked the popularity of sonnet poetry within his own time, and throughout much of Europe after his death.

Henry the Navigator (1394-1460) for being the primary initiator of the Age of Discovery.

Isabella I (1451-1504) funded and supported Columbus’s voyage to the New World, which ultimately would lead to further Spanish influence in the Western Hemisphere. Also, completed the Reconquista, which threw out or converted Muslim and Jewish subjects.

Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) the founder of modern political science. He described immoral behavior by political leaders as something that was normal and effective in politics, and at times, justified for the good of a country.

Ferdinand Magellan (c. 1480-1521) for the first circumnavigation of the globe.

Francisco Pizarro (c. 1475-1541) for the conquest of the Inca Empire and for spreading Spanish culture, including the Roman Catholic religion, to Peru and South America.

Hernan Cortes (1485-1547) for the conquest of the Aztec Empire and for spreading Spanish culture, including the Roman Catholic religion, into Mexico and Central America.

Suleiman the Magnificent (1494-1566) inspired the growth of Ottoman culture and law, including Islam, which expanded into the areas that he conquered. He helped establish Islam as the second major religion in Europe and fixed Ottoman Turkish presence as the pivot between Europe and Asia cultures.

Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) is considered the most influential architect in architectural history, primarily for his architectural treatise.

John Calvin (1509-1564) is the founder of Calvinism, which is the chief philosophy of numerous protestant churches, such as Presbyterians, Congregational, Reformed.

Elizabeth I (1533-1603) inspired the flowering of English literature and language, especially drama. Set the foundation for English colonialism, and the concept of the British Empire. Reestablished England as a protestant state.

Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) for writing the first modern novel and for being the primary source for the development of the Spanish language, one of the largest world languages.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) the philosophical advocate and practitioner of the scientific method. He is also considered the founder of empiricism, the idea that knowledge comes from sensory experience.

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) is the “Father of Observational Astronomy.” He confirmed the phases of Venus, discovered several of Jupiter’s moons, observed and analyzed sunspots. He is arguably the most well-known champion of heliocentrism.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) as the primary figure in the development of the English language into a world language. He also wrote plays that have been translated, spread, and staged across the world, even to the present day.

Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) for his laws of planetary motion.

William Harvey (1578-1657) first to discover and detail the circulation of the blood.

Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) The father of international law.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) established social contract theory, which influenced later political theory.

Rene Descartes (1596-1650) is the Father of Modern Western Philosophy and the father of analytical geometry. His contributions to critical thinking have made all universities, more or less, Cartesian institutions.

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) invented the mechanical calculator. He plays a chief role in probability theory and in projective geometry.

Robert Boyle (1627-1691) for Boyle’s Law, which describes the relationship between absolute pressure and gas.

John Locke (1632-1704) is the father of liberalism. He may be the key philosopher in influencing the American Revolution, including the language of the Declaration of Independence.

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) is the “father of microbiology.” He was the first to observe and analyze microorganisms.

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) is one of the two independent inventors of calculus. He also refined the binary system, which is currently used in computers.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) arguably the most inventive composer, who also developed the techniques of previous composers. He was a master at counterpoint, harmonics, modulation and contrapuntal motion.

Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792) is the leader of the Wahhabi movement in Islam, known as Wahhabism, which has occasionally inspired the ideology of extremist fundamentalist Islamic organizations, such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

Adam Smith (1723-1790) is the father of modern economics. He laid the foundation for the classical free market economic theory.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is considered the central figure of modern philosophy. He believed reality must conform to the human mind’s active concepts to be conceivable and at all possible for people to be able to experience it. He is known for the categorical imperative.

George Washington (1732-1799) first president of the United States, setting the precedents for the most powerful influential position in history. Presided over the Constitutional Convention, which created the oldest active constitution.

James Watt (1736-1819) invented the first practical steam engine and developed the concept of horsepower.

Alessandro Volta (1745-1827) invented the electric battery and discovered methane.

Edward Jenner (1749-1823) is the “Father of Immunology” for his creation of the smallpox vaccine, the world’ first vaccine.

Nicolas Appert (1749-1841) invented canned food.

Alexander Hamilton (c. 1755-1804) for founding the current dominant nation’s financial system and for founding the world’s first voter-based political party.

Maximilian Robespierre (1758-1794) was the primary advocate for the successful abolition of slavery, making France the first major country to end slavery. He pushed for the equality of rights and universal male suffrage, but was defeated and executed when the violence of the French Revolution spun out of control.

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) for invigorating first wave feminism.

Nicephore Niepce (1765-1833) invented photography.

John Dalton (1766-1844) developed modern atomic theory.

Jacob Perkins (1766-1849) invented the first practical refrigerator.

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) Ended the French Revolution and initiated the Napoleonic Wars, which culminated in the European balance of powers. Also, sold the Louisiana territory to the United States, was the inspiration of two of the most important military strategy books (one by Clausewitz and the other by Jomini), initiated modern Egyptology (resulting in the founding of the Rosetta Stone), indirectly sparked the Age of Nationalism, inspired the “Great Man Theory” of German philosophers.

Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855) is considered the greatest mathematician since ancient history. Among his many contributions was the belief that geometry could be non-Euclidean, which freed up later scientists and mathematicians to make discoveries without being tied down by the belief that all geometry must follow Euclidian principals.

Jose de San Martin (1778-1850) for leading the independence movement from Spain for Chile, Argentina and Peru.

Simon Bolivar (1783-1840) established several South American countries as independent of Spanish rule. This inspired the rest of the Spanish-speaking New World to seek their own countries.

Charles Babbage (1791-1871) originated the concept of the programmable computer.

Michael Faraday (1791-1867) for his laws of induction, which predict how a magnetic field will interact with an electric circuit to produce an electromotive force.

Auguste Comte (1798-1857) the founder of sociology. He set the tone for early social theorists such as Max Weber, Karl Marx and others.

Charles Goodyear (1800-1860) for vulcanizing rubber.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) prevented the breakup of the United States. Laid the foundation for the abolition of slavery in the most powerful republic. Centralized the United States, which made America’s dominance in the 20th century possible.

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) for being arguably the leading developer in the popularity of the novel.

Henry Bessemer (1813-1898) for the Bessemer steel-manufacturing process.

Otto von Bismark (1815-1898) unified Germany and created a German empire, shifting the balance of power, allowing for the foundation for both World War I and World War II to occur. Created the first welfare state.

Karl Marx (1818-1883) founder of Marxism, the most influential variant of Socialism. He was also arguably the most influential critic of capitalism. His writings on class struggles, labor and inequality make him a principle architect in the field of sociology. Much of his work was buttressed by Friedrich Engels. He is considered the father of Socialism, even though the principal ideas of Socialism were expressed by thinkers who are now known as Utopian Socialists, such as Robert Owen.

Joseph Bazalgette (1819-1891) for the creation of the first urban sewer system.

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) is known as the “Father of Free Verse.” His poetry has had a large impact in North and South America and in Europe, specifically on the Iberian Peninsula.

Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) is the “Father of Microbiology.” He was crucial to the development of immunization,. He also disproved the theory of spontaneous generation. He also invented the process called Pasteurization, which kills bacteria in liquid food.

Joseph Lister (1827-1912) is the “Father of Modern Surgery” for his pioneering work in antiseptic surgery.

James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) formulated the classical theory of electromagnetic radiation, which brought together electricity, magnetism and light as part of the same phenomena.

Nikolaus Otto (1832-1891) invented the internal-combustion engine.

Gottlieb Daimler (1834-1900) invented the first high-speed petrol engine.

Louis Le Prince (1841-1890) invented the first movie camera and shot the first movies.

Karl Benz (1844-1929) invented the first automobile that used an internal combustion engine.

Wilhelm Roentgen (1845-1923) discovered X-Rays.

Thomas Edison (1847-1931) invented the first practical incandescent light bulb and the phonograph.

Gottlob Frege (1848-1925) is the father of analytic philosophy and is considered as the key developer of modern logic.

Henri Becquerel (1852-1908) discovered radioactivity.

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) designed the modern alternating current (AC) electric supply system.

Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1925) arguably the lead activist in fighting for women’s suffrage. Her efforts helped achieve suffrage in her own country of Great Britain, and inspired similar efforts in other countries, including in the United States.

Max Planck (1858-1947) is the originator of quantum theory.

Wilhelm II (1859-1941) was the primary aggressor in creating World War I. His defeat led to the overthrow of the monarchy in exchange for a Republican form of government, which would ultimately fall to the Nazis.

Fritz Haber (1864-1938) the “father of chemical warfare.”

Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925) was the leading force in overthrowing the ancient Chinese monarchy and sparking Democratic reform in China, paving the way for a both the Chinese Republic and Communist China.

Marie Curie (1867-1934) is the pioneering researcher and developer of the theory of radioactivity. She is also the first woman to win the Nobel Prize.

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) was the predominant leader of the Indian independence movement. He is probably the most recognized practitioner of nonviolent civil disobedience in history.

Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924) converted Russia from an absolute monarchy to a totalitarian Communist country very loosely based on Marxism, which is known as Leninism. While the Soviet Union no longer exists, Russia and Russia’s sphere of influence is still greatly impacted by Lenin. Leninism is often used as an example to misrepresent Socialism.

Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937) is the “father of nuclear physics.” He discovered the radioactive half-life and differentiated alpha radiation from beta radiation.

Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) invented the radio.

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) the earliest and leading advocate against Nazi Germany and Cold War Soviet Russia, ensuring the containment of both expanding powers.

Vallabhbhai Patel (1875-1950) the primary figure in creating a unified, independent modern India. which soon became the world’s largest Democracy.

Willis Carrier (1876-1950) invented the air conditioner.

Joseph Stalin (1878-1953) rapidly industrialized Russia into a superpower that both helped end World War II and became one of two major powers during the Cold War. Stalinism has often been used as an example to misrepresent Socialism. Russia’s relative strength today is due in part to Stalin’s regime.

Mark Sykes (1879-1919) and Francois Georges-Picot (1870-1951) for creating the agreement, which redrew the map of the Middle East that is generally considered the catalyst for the conflicts in the region today.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938) founded the Republic of Turkey, which replaced the long-lasting Ottoman Empire. Created a modern, secular government, that was free and independent from the European colonial powers.

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) invented assemblage and collage. He also had a profound influence on the foundation of modern art.

Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) for the discovery of penicillin.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) facilitated America’s transition from world power to one of two superpowers, authorized the creation of the atomic bomb, and helped defeat Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

Robert H. Goddard (1882-1945) invented the first liquid-fueled rocket.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) the originator of Keynesian economics. He is considered the founder of macroeconomics.

Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) The founder of fascism. His system of government inspired many similar governments such as Nazism in Germany. Fascism is now a common label applied to politicians with radical totalitarian views.

Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) dropped the atomic bombs, which ended World War II in the pacific. He led the US into the Cold War against the Soviets. He authorized the Marshall Plan and NATO, which established American influence and presence in Europe. He also turned American into a national security state with the authorization of the National Security Act, which laid the foundation for the Patriot Act several decades later.

Jean Monnet (1888-1979) The chief founding father of the European Union by laying the groundwork for the eventual EU.

B. R. Ambedkar (1891-1956) The principal architect for the constitution of India, which is the world’s largest Democracy.

Mao Zedong (1893-1976) founding father of the People’s Republic of China, the most populated Communist government in history. He laid the foundations for China as a world power through modernization policies. His form of communism, known as Maoism, is often an example to misrepresent Socialism.

Enrico Fermi (1901-1954) created the world’s first nuclear reactor.

Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976) for the creation of quantum mechanics.

J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967) developed the atomic bomb.

Deng Xiaoping (1904-1997) made China into a leading economy by opening the country up to embrace global market capitalism.

Philo Farnsworth (1906-1971) invented the first fully functioning television.

Sergei Korolev (1907-1966) is the “Father of Practical Astronautics” for his development of Sputnik.

Claude Shannon (1916-2001) is the “Father of Information Theory”

J. Presper Eckert (1919-1995) and John Mauchly (1907-1980) invented the first general-purpose electronic digital computer (ENIAC).

Martin Cooper (1928) for the first handheld cell phone.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) is the predominant figure in the African-American civil rights movement, and a leading inspiration for the rights of worldwide minorities. He was also, along with Gandhi, a chief practioneer of nonviolent civil disobedience.

Pier Giorgio Perotto (1930-2002) invented the first personal computer.

Mikhail Gorbachev (1931) instituted reforms, which slowly broke down the Soviet Union, allowing for the end of the Cold War and the emergence of the United States as the world’s first hyperpower state.

Pope Francis (1936) for the rapid modernization and openness of the Catholic Church and for being the first pope from the Western Hemisphere.

Chuck Hull (1939) invented the 3-D printer.

John Lennon (1940-1980), Paul McCartney (1942), George Harrison (1943-2001), and Ringo Starr (1940) formed the best selling band in world history. Their influence on music is paramount.

Ian Wilmut (1944) and Keith Campbell (1954-2012) for cloning the first mammal.

Francis Collins (1950) and Craig Venter (1946) for sequencing the human genome.

Vladimir Putin (1952) was able to build Russia back into a major power and influence in Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Osama bin Laden (1957-2011) his attack on the World Trade Center led to ongoing War on Terror, and indirectly led to increased US involvement in the Middle East and in the creation of ISIS, an unrecognized terrorist state. Bin Laden’s organization can also be credited with the growing misrepresentation of Islam.

Barack Obama (1961) is the first elected US president of African-descent, despite the country’s long history of slavery and inequality for its black citizens. He also presided over the nationwide legality of same-sex marriage. All of these major accomplishments for a the world’s sole hyperpower.

Jimmy Wales (1966) creator of Wikipedia.

Andrew Weinreich (c.1970) created the first successful social networking site.

Sergey Brin (1973) and Larry Page (1973) for Google search engine.




One Comment Add yours

  1. Robert E. Lee–inspired a nail salon in Astoria, Queens…also known as Robert E. Li –Paul

    Liked by 1 person

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