For any person, their idols, role models and influences can totally shape their dreams, the way the behave, their ambitions, and how the aspire to reach them. People have asked a number of times who I am influenced by and why.
I don't go for glitz and glamour, but for real achievers that one way or another have made real differences, often in technology and science, and often being unrecognised while doing so. They all have real human failings, and some have sides that I feel less inclined to like, but still admire them for their achievements.
So who are they?
Albert Einstein - Top of my list comes this amazing man. He has single handedly done so much for modern physics. He spent a reasonable amount of his life unrecognised, and sadly saw his equations used to create atomic weapons. However, for understanding fundamentals of light, energy and particle physics, he has done much.
Alan Turing - Like a number of these great people, society did not accept his choices and drove him to a sad demise. It must be acknowledged that without this man, modern computing and programming systems would not be what they are. Again, he had some very human failings and I am aware that his theories were developed in War Time for intercepting and decrypting messages.
Nikola Tesla - Nikola Tesla remained largely unrecognised throughout his life, but modern electromagnetic machines, including simple AC power transmission, the electrical transformer, generator and motor systems, induction based power systems, robotics and a great deal more are due to his work in this field. There are quite possibly plenty of discoveries he made that the rest of the world are yet to discover and understand. He died with no money and commonly regarded as a mad scientist.
Charles Babbage - The machines designed by Charles Babbage are fairly well known as concepts for large mechanical computing machines, the most well known being the difference engine. A working machine has been constructed and is now on display in the Science Museum in London.
These are but a few, but a very important few, of my influences. There are many other names I should mention in brief which include inventors, entrepreneurs and writers - Galileo, Copernicus, Pythagorus, Tim Berners-Lee, Leonardo Da Vinci, Linux Torvalds, Mark Shuttleworth, Steven Hawkings, Richard Dawkins, Douglas Adams, Isaac Asimov? and Terry Pratchett.
Of course, not all the people I consider role models are famous. Other people I consider great role models are my father who is also a software engineer, and some very good friends of mine who exceptional people as well as exceptional technologists.
I hope that some people may read this, follow up a little on the people mentioned here, and maybe be inspired themselves to do similar great things.