Ever since waves of Indian graduates poured into Silicon Valley in Northern California in the 1970s and 1980s, talented Indians have made breakthroughs, pushed boundaries and held positions of power in the world of technology and media.
Almost all the big US technology companies have technology pioneers of Indian descent, including the fathers of the USB and technology blogging.
Satya Nadella in February became Microsoft's chief executive, replacing Steve Ballmer, which instantly propelled him into the highest-profile slot, but he is by no means the first Indian to make waves in the technology industry.
Ajay BhattOne of the most unsung technology pioneers is Ajay Bhatt, an Indian-American computer architect who is credited as being the father of the USB standard – something that almost every computing device uses today in some form or another.
Born in 1957, Bhatt graduated from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in India and then went on to received a master’s degree from The City University of New York before joining Intel in 1990.
He became Intel’s chief client platform architect, but not before co-inventing USB, as well as several other crucial standards in graphics and computer architecture holding 31 US patents.
In recognition for his contribution to the PCI Express standard, which underlies several of the modern computer connection standards including the high-speed Thunderbolt connection, Bhatt received an Achievement in Excellence Award in 2002.
In 2009, Intel proclaimed Bhatt as a rockstar of tech through a TV advert - despite Bhatt being played by an actor it pushed his profile into the public spotlight.
Intel was not short of talented Indians. The father of the famous Intel Pentium processor, Vinod Dham, originally hailed from Pune in India.
Dham, born in 1950, graduated in electrical engineering from the Delhi College of Engineering is 1971, later moving to the US and gaining a master’s degree in electrical engineering at the University of Cincinnati in 1977.
He specialised in solid state electronics – the technology underlaying the storage found in every smartphone and tablet computer as well as many laptops – working on flash memory at NCR Corporation before joining Intel. There he led the development of the Pentium processor, as well as co-inventing Intel’s first flash memory technology, before rising to the rank of vice-president of microprocessors.
Dham left Intel in 1995 ending up at Intel’s largest rival in the computer chip business AMD, before moving onto a series of startups and then becoming a venture capitalist focused on early stage startups in India.
Born in 1955 in Delhi, India, Khosla was inspired into a career in technology by reading about the founding of Intel in 1968 at the age of 14. He gained a degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi before moving to the US to obtain a masters in biomedical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and a masters from the Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1980.
In 1980, leaving academia, Khosla joined electronic design automation company Daisy Systems before leaving in 1982 to co-found Sun Microsystems along with Stanford alumni Scott McNealy and Andy Bechtolsheim, as well as Bill Joy. There Khosla served as Sun’s chief executive until 1984.
Khosla joined Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a venture capital firm, as a general partner in 1987 investing in technology firms and Indian finance companies. Khosla then left the company in 2004 to start his own venture capitalist firm, Khosla Ventures, which manages around $1bn of investment capital and invests in clean technology and information technology startups.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair joined Khosla Ventures in 2010, advising on environment-focused investments.
Indian talent is woven into the core of the software technologies most people use every day. One of Nadella’s suggested rivals for the job of Microsoft’s chief executive was Sundar Pichai, currently the man overseeing Android, Chrome and apps at Google.
Born in Tamil Nadu, India in 1972, Pichai attained a degree in technology from Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur before gaining masters degrees from both Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania.
Pichai worked at technology company Applied Materials and consultancy firm McKinsey & Company before joining Google in 2004. There he initially led the development of the company’s software, including the Chrome browser, Chrome OS, Drive, Gmail and Maps. He also announced Google’s open-source video format VP8 and WebM in 2010.
When the father of Android, Andy Rubin, move away from Android to take up the lead of Google’s robotics efforts, Pichai was given oversight of the Android mobile software in 2013.
Another pioneering web service, Hotmail, was founded by an Indian technology talent who emigrated to the US in the 1980s.
Born in 1968 in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh, Sabeer Bhatia moved to the US in 1988 to study at the California Institute of Technology transferring from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science. Bhatia then went on to obtain a masters in electrical engineering from Stanford University.
Leaving academia, Bhatia briefly worked for Apple as a hardware engineer before moving to a Cannon subsidiary FirePower Systems Inc. He was struck by the fact that software was accessible on the internet via a browser, which birthed the idea of email in the browser.
Bhatia linked up with a colleague, Jack Smith, to launch Hotmail in 1996, which became one of the biggest email providers in the world and was bought by Microsoft in 1998. In 1999, Bhatia then left Microsoft and founded an e-commerce firm, Arzoo Inc, before starting a free messaging service called JaxtrSMS.
Another high-profile, Google engineer from India is Vic Gundotra, who is known as Google’s social tsar and the man behind the Google+ social network.
Gundotra, born in 1968 in Mumbai, India, had been a Microsoft man since 1991. He rose up the ranks eventually becoming the general manage of platform evangelism, promoting Microsoft’s services to independent developers. He also played a role in Microsoft’s strategy to compete with Google’s online services with its Windows Live services, including instant messaging and email, which likely lead to his later move.
In 2007, Gundotra joined Google and became vice president of social, instrumental in the development of Google+ and its integration into almost every aspect of Google’s services.
Away from Google’s higher profile senior management, a somewhat lesser known Indian talent is Amit Singhal, who oversees Google’s core business of search - something around 1.1 billion people use every month.
Born in 1968 in Jhansi, India, Singhal gained a computer science degree from IIT Roorkee in 1989 before moving to the US and receiving a masters from the University of Minnesota in 1991. Singhal continued his academic career at Cornell University attaining a doctorate in 1996 and working with the father of digital search, Gerad Salton.
Having joined AT&T Labs in 1996, Singhal worked on search technologies, including information and speech retrieval. He then moved to Google in 2000 to join his friend, Krishna Bharat who was himself an Indian research scientist and the creator of Google News.
Singhal now oversees search for Google, responsible for the algorithms that deliver search results, and rewrote Google’s search engine in 2001. In 2011 he was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery and given the Outstanding Achievement in Science and Technology Award at The Asian Awards.
India’s software talent in big US companies is not limited to search. Born in 1982 in Pune, India, Ruchi Sanghvi became Facebook’s first female engineer, joining the social network in 2005.
Sanghvi moved to the US and gained a bachelors and masters degree in electrical computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in 2004. She worked at Oracle before breaking the male-dominated engineering mould by joining Facebook in 2005.
At Facebook Sanghvi was one of the primary engineers working on the first iteration of what was set to become the mainstay of Facebook, the News Feed. It was launched in 2006, but Sanghvi and team were rebuked by users and critics alike for its privacy implications. That lead her and her team to a 48-hour coding session, rapidly creating the first iteration of Facebook’s complicated privacy controls.
Later that year, Sanghvi was made a principal product manager at Facebook, overseeing the company’s software platform as well as the News Feed, but left Facebook in 2010.
In 2011, Sanghvi co-founded a collaboration startup called Cove along with another Indian Facebook engineer and Carnegie Mellon University alumni Aditya Agarwal. File syncing service Dropbox announced in 2012 that it had acquired Cove, which led to Sanghvi joining the company, where she is currently the vice president of operations.
Sanghvi may have been Facebook’s first female engineer, but she was by no means the first female Indian engineer to make it big in technology.
Born in 1961 in Vijayawada, India, Padmasree Warrior gained a degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi in 1982 before moving to the US and graduating from Cornell University with a masters in chemical engineering.
From Cornell Warrior started her 23-year-career with Motorola in 1984. Starting out as only one of a few women at the company’s Arizona facility, she rose through the ranks. Warrior served as general manager of Motorola’s Energy Systems Group, as well as chief technology officer of its Semiconductor Products department and general manager of Thoughtbeam before it was shut down.
In 2003, Warrior became a senior vice president and Motorola’s chief technology officer, before being promoted to executive vice president in 2005. Under her tenure, Motorola won the National Medal of Technology from the President of the United States for the first time in 2004.
Warrior remained chief technology officer at Motorola until 2007, where she left to take over the same role at Cisco Systems, which she holds to this day.
Indian technology talent also sits at the top of the creative tools industry. Shantanu Narayen, born in 1963 in Hyderabad, India, currently serves as Adobe Systems chief executive; a software and services company the develops the world famous Photoshop among other products.
Growing up in Hyderabad, Narayen went to Osmania University in India and gained a degree in electronic engineer before moving to the US. There he obtained a masters in business from the University of California, Berkeley and a masters in computer science from Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
Narayen started his computer graphics career at Apple before moving to Silicon Graphics to be its director of desktop collaboration products. He then left Silicon Graphics to co-found the pioneer of digital photo sharing over the internet, Pictra Inc.
In 1998 Narayen started his 16-year career at Adobe, joining the company as vice president of worldwide product research. He was later promoted to executive vice president before becoming chief operating officer of the company in 2005 at the age of 41.
Narayen was one of the driving forces behind Adobe’s $3.4bn acquisition of multi-media company Macromedia in 2005 before being appointed chief executive of Adobe in 2007.
President Barack Obama recognised Narayen in 2011 by appointing him as a member of the new Management Advisory Board, which was established by an Executive Order in 2010 to advise on how to implement the best technology practices within the government.
Indian pioneering talent is not isolated to software and hardware engineering, however. Om Malik, one of the forefathers of professional technology news blogging, is another shining example of Indian expertise at the forefront of technology.
Malik was born in 1966 in New Delhi and gained a degree in chemistry from St Stephens’ College in New Delhi in 1986. Launching out into a writing career in news, initially as a typesetter in India, Malik moved to New York in 1993 working for India Abroad and Forbes.
In 1994 Malik showed his entrepreneurial spirit launching an events site for Indian emigrants called DesiParty.com, and then launching the South Asian targeted Masala magazine and website that same year.
Malik left Forbes in 1999 to dabble in venture capital investments, but returned to writing in 2000, moving to San Francisco and joining Business 2.0 magazine. But it wasn’t until 2001 that Malik launched his own blog GigaOM, published by the newly created GigaOmniMedia. One of the first tech blogs it is consistently ranked among the top technology news sites in the world.
In 2006 Malik went full time on GigaOM, transforming it from a one-man-band into a multi-writer news site, later adding other blogs including Earth2Tech and The Apple Blog to a newly formed GigaOM Network of blogs.
The other blogs in the network were eventually rolled into the master GigaOM blog, while Malik launched a professional research arm to complement the consumer side of technology news.
• Why Satya Nadella's selection as Microsoft CEO isn't actually great for Indians
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010