A&E's Top 100 People of the Millenium

I think this is the right place to start up this topic. If not, dear moderator, please move to the forum of your choice.

Here’s a link to their site - they just aired the show with the final 100, but they haven’t updated their site yet. It still shows the original list of 250 which was whittled down:


For those of you who did not see the show, Johann Gutenberg, developer of movable type and the printing press was number 1. I agree with that choice.

I think the main thing to remember is that the list is subjective.

The only choice on their top 100 list that I completely disagree with is Princess Diana. One of the most influential people of the past 1000 years? I don’t think so!

What do you guys think?

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Many of their choices were very debatable, but I feel pretty good about predicting Gutenberg as #1. Inventions of this century have moved Transmission Of Ideas from being Easy to being Very Easy, but Gutenberg moved it from Virtually Impossible to Moderately Difficult, and that paved the way for everything else.

Great list. A number of the post-WWII people I think may be just a bit trendy. But they did great for 950 years, so give them a little slack! :slight_smile:

My main objection to the list is that they don’t really state how they defined influential, or else I was in another room when they did.

How did Wendy What’s Her Name make the panel anyway? Pulitzer or no, her plays aren’t that good.

I thought they did an amazingly good job, considering that there is no way they could satisfy everyone. A hell of a lot better than that AFI 100 best films list at any rate.

I agree with Hunsecker–at least A&E did a better job than those idiots at the AFI (the BFI list, by the way, is slightly less moronic).

I also agree that some of the modern people were thrown in to sell videotapes: no matter how nice they may have been, Diana, Bill Cosby, Michael Jackson and Ryan White were not “important” in any real or lasting way.

Virginia Woolf must be the cat’s pajamas: “she’s so nice, we listed her twice!”

In the category of “most annoying” however was Gloria Steinem’s comment about how the list only included white males. The statement was patently false – Ghandi was in the top 10, for instance, and there were lots of women (some, like Princess Diane, of dubious qualification) in the top 100. Plus, let’s face facts, women were not allowed to play strong roles in politics, science, or academia in the last 1000 years. Why should the list be distorted to reflect modern sensibilities?

I thought it was a well-put together show, with some thought-provoking comments (such as about Christopher Columbus and Thomas Jefferson.) My wife and I both predicted and agreed with # 1 (Guttenberg) and # 2 (Isaac Newton).

Unless I missed something I didn’t see Sigmund Freud on the list. If their criteria were in fact, “Our list has been pared down to one hundred people who have had the most influence (positive or negative) in historical, cultural, political, social, or emotional terms, not just in their lifetime,
but on future generations as well.” He most definitely should have been included. I would have included more philosophers and way less “first women” I don’t think that they contribute all that much in the way of influence.

That which a man had rather were true he more readily believes.

Yes, ol’ Sigmund was in the top 25.

Who the hell is Ryan White?

Just looked him up. Ooop, is my face red. (With a monicker like that, I was worried he was a basketball player or something.)

Still, why a poster boy? Did he rank higher than, say, the guy who developed the smallpox vaccine?

I think the whole idea was that AIDS was one of those “we don’t talk about that” ideas before he contracted it, and he made it his life’s work (however tragically short) to educate the public on what the problem was, and get people’s heads out of… well, you get the idea.

Not bad for someone who died at 18!

I don’t think Ryan White made the top 100, rather they chose ‘patient zero’ of aids. My irk is that they had Bill Gates at #41, and Jack Kilby wasn’t on the list…Kilby invented the integrated cicuit, and the influence of that can’t be argued really.

I also think Marshall should have been on the list.

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Ryan was on the link provided. BTW, Marshall? George C., right, not William the or Thurgood or Wilson’s VP? If so, I totally agree.

I think it’s kind of funny that they listed the Grateful Dead as one of the top people. I also think it’s funny that they listed Princess Diana as a “Public figure for his fight against AIDS”.

And I’m sore that Lockheed’s Kelly Johnson didn’t make the list, and Admiral Grace Hopper didn’t either. But I expect modern aviation and computer programming don’t count much compared to Oprah and Pavarotti.

Penny Marshall? Definitely!

Alice Walker and Toni Morrison? More influential than John Donne, or Ben Jonson, or Samuel Johnson, or Goethe, or Byron, or Twain?

I think these people have more political correctness than literary taste.

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  • Gavin Gunhold


Soren Keirkegaard & Martin Heidegger for philosophic thought and influence

Fyodor Dostoyevsky & Franz Kafka for literary accomplishments


Every thing from the last 50 years. We should really wait a while more before we proclaim Jack-O a musical giant.

So … how does this list compare to the Time Magazine 100 for the Century?

Oh dear.

I just looked at that biography.com site listing the top 250 list (before it was pared down to 100 for A&E). And …

… fair and impartial list, my buttocks!

How could they list Bach and Mozart among the top 250 imfluential persons of the millenium, and not mention Beethoven?!? Beethoven had a FAR greater impact on Western music than either of those two hacks.

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