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Going back in Time: Person of the Year winners in tech (images)

Mark Zuckerberg, Time's Person of the Year, is not the first honoree from the world of technology and science. He's in good company, with a list that includes tech titans, a machine, and even a planet.

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Anne Dujmovic
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Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Time magazine's 2010 Person of the Year, is not the first honoree from the world of technology and science. He's in good company, with a list that includes tech titans, a machine, and even a planet.

Time cited Zuckerberg "for connecting more than half a billion people and mapping the social relations among them, for creating a new system of exchanging information and for changing how we live our lives."

Since 1927, Time magazine has chosen someone or something that, "for better or worse," made the greatest impact during the year. The story goes that Time editors first came up with the idea during a slow news week. (That sounds familiar.)

CNET has culled from the list to highlight winners in the technology and science fields.

We've also created a poll to discover our readers' pick for tech person of the year.

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U.S. scientists

In 1960, Time chose a group of U.S. scientists as Men of the Year. They singled out 15 for their work in particular.

They were: geneticist George Beadle, "astronauticist" Charles Draper, virologist John Enders, physicist Donald Glaser, geneticist Joshua Lederberg, chemist Willard Libby, chemist Linus Pauling, physicist Edward Purcell, physicist I.I. Rabi, physicist Emilio Segre, William Shockley (co-creator of the transistor), physicist Edward Teller, physicist Charles Townes, physicist James Van Allen, and chemist Robert Woodward.

Time said it chose U.S. scientists "because the heart of scientific inquiry now beats strongest in this country."

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Apollo 8 astronauts

Time declared the Apollo 8 astronauts--William Anders, Frank Borman, and James Lovell--Men of the Year in 1968.

Time explained its choice this way: "For all its upheavals and frustrations, the year would be remembered to the end of time for the dazzling skills and Promethean daring that sent mortals around the moon."

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The computer

In 1982, Time picked not a man, but a machine: the computer. In its story about the pick, the magazine quoted an ad that attempted to answer the question "Will someone please tell me what a personal computer can do?"

"A personal computer, it says, can send letters at the speed of light, diagnose a sick poodle, custom-tailor an insurance program in minutes, test recipes for beer."

It was an ad for Apple Computer.

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Endangered Earth

In 1988, Time went a little broader than man or machine. It chose "Endangered Earth" as Planet of the Year.

Time wrote, "Spurred by poverty, population growth, ill-advised policies and simple greed, humanity is at war with the plants and animals that share its planet."

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Ted Turner

In 1991, it was media mogul Ted Turner's turn to grace the cover as "Man of the Year."

In the early days of CNN, Turner insisted it was all about timing.

Time used his quote to help explain its choice: "'I am the right man in the right place at the right time,' he said. 'Not me alone, but all the people who think the world can be brought together by telecommunications.' The years since, and most especially the one just past, have demonstrated how emphatically he was right."

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David Ho

AIDS researcher Dr. David Ho was recognized by Time as Man of the Year in 1996 for his work. Born in Taiwan, Ho told the magazine he owed his success to "immigrant drive."

"People get to this new world, and they want to carve out their place in it. The result is dedication and a higher level of work ethic," he said. "You always retain a bit of an underdog mentality."

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Andy Grove

Then-CEO of Intel Andy Grove was deemed Man of the Year in 1997.

The magazine called him "the person most responsible for the amazing growth in the power and innovative potential of microchips."

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Jeff Bezos

What's in the box? It's Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, amid all that pastel packing foam.

In 1999, Time changed its annual designation to Person of the Year from Man of the Year, though the first female winner--Wallis Simpson--was chosen in 1936. Also in 1999, the magazine named Albert Einstein the Person of the Century.

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Bill Gates, Bono, Melinda Gates

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, rock star Bono, and Gates' wife, Melinda, were deemed "The Good Samaritans" in 2005.

Time quoted Bono talking about one of his fellow "Persons of the Year," Bill Gates: "He's changing the world twice. And the second act for Bill Gates may be the one that history regards more."

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You

You probably don't need to be reminded, but you were named Person of the Year in 2006. Yes, you. (It was actually a collective "you" so don't go bragging about this on your Facebook page.)

Because "You control the Information Age," Time magazine chose "You." (Note the period.) You might remember the shiny, reflective cover that was put there, no doubt, so you could admire yourself.

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