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There are a variety of lists that include different criteria (Greatest, Most influential, ...).
In the list below we've emphasized Michael Hart's criteria, which is influence on society. So people like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Elvis, Bill Gates, the current president of the United States, ... who may be more well known are not included.

All of history
1. (MH) Michael H. Hart. The 100: A Ranking Of The Most Influential Persons In History, 1978 , updated in 2000, is the most often referenced.
Hart says, "I must emphasize that this is a list of the most influential persons in history , not a list of the greatest. For example a heartless man like Stalin is in, but saintly Mother Cabrini is out. (see good people.) See merged lists below.
Neither fame, nor talent, nor nobility of character is the same as influence. Thus Benjamin Franklin, Martin Luther King, JR, Babe Ruth and even Leonardo Da Vinci are omitted.
He also states influence comes from talent and opportunity, and the lack of women and some ethnic groups is because of lack of opportunity over history.
He has 29 people before 1,000 A.D.
See Google Books

2. (MP) Michael Pollard. 100 Greatest Men, 1997 - See: 100 Greatest Men at adherents.com
It does not rank individuals within the list. It also includes a humanitarian category with people like Albert Schweitzer and Desmond Tutu.
He does not include ruthless dictators, Genghis Khan, Hitler, Stalin, Mao.
He has 21 people before 1,000 A.D.

2nd Millennium (1000-2000)
3. (TL) LIFE magazine list of the "Top" 100 People who had a major impact on the Second Millennium

4. (M100) The Millennium 100 from The Globe and Mail See list at adherants

5. (2M) Agnes Hooper Gottlieb, Henry Gottlieb, Barbar Bowers, Brent Bowers. 1,000 Years, 1,000 People: Ranking the Men and Women Who Shaped the Second Millennium is the second most inclusive, but does not include explorers.

Other similar lists

Other lists include the 20th century only, The Millenium, Arts and Sciences only,
These lists are highly subjective as seen from the variation in rankings below.
Attempts to be objective like the Whitelaw's History Makers below, which uses google hits and the size of wikipedia pages ends up skewed toward show business with Elvis at #5.


Top 150: Following is a List of 150 people created from merging the five lists above.
Only Hart and Pollard included people before 1000 A.D. and Hart was the only one who ranked them, so I used his rankings for the first 3 all of whom appeared in Pollard's list also also. Everyone on Hart's list is included, but only people who were in at least two lists are included from the other lists. The more lists someone was in (for people after 1000 AD) the higher their rank.
There are 29 people before 1,000 A.D. in Hart's list.
There are 47 people in both Hart's and Pollard's lists, neither of which had a date restriction.

There are 24 people in all five lists:
Ludwig van Beethoven, Alexander Graham Bell, Simon Bolivar, Christopher Columbus, Leonardo da Vinci *, Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Galileo Galilei, Mahatma Gandhi *, Johannes Gutenberg, John Locke, Martin Luther, Guglielmo Marconi, Karl Marx, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Napoleon Bonaparte, Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, Peter the Great, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, William Shakespeare, Orville and Wilbur Wright.
*da Vinci and Gandhi were runner ups in Hart's list.

17 people are in four of the lists:
Johann Sebastian Bach, Nicolaus Copernicus, Rene Descartes, Michael Faraday, Alexander Fleming, Henry Ford, Adolf Hitler, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Ferdinand Magellan, Michelangelo, Peter the Great, Marco Polo, Adam Smith, George Washington, William the Conqueror

ru - Runner Up (10), hm - Honorable Mention (A list of 100 people considered by Hart but not included in his top 100.)
Rank Person Time Occupation Reason(s) for Being Placed on the List
  MH MP TL M1 2M
1* 1 x       Muhammad  c.570-632 Secular and religious leader Prophet of Islam; conqueror of Arabia; Wrote the Koran. *
2 2 x 6 5 6 Isaac Newton  1643-1727 Scientist physicist; theory of universal gravitation; laws of motion
3 3 x       Jesus Christ  7-2 BC - AD 26-36 Prophet; Spiritual leader; God Founder of Christianity
4 4 x       Buddha  563-483 BC Spiritual leader Founder of Buddhism
5 5 x       Confucius  551-479 BC Philosopher; Teacher Created Confucianism
6 9 x 2 7 2 Christopher Columbus  1451-1506 Explorer Discovery of the Americas led to world-wide exploration
7 25 x 3 2 3 Martin Luther  1483-1546 Religious Leader Chiefly responsible for the beginning of the Reformation period; The start of Protestantism
8 8 x   8 1 Johannes Gutenberg  1398-1468 Inventor Inventor of printing (printing press); developed movable type; printed Bibles
9 12 x 4 10 4 Galileo Galilei  1564-1642 Scientist Developed the scientific method; Invented the telescope; accurately described heliocentric solar system
10 10 x 21 1 17 Albert Einstein  1879-1955 Scientist Theory of relativity
11 16 x 9 9 7 Charles Darwin  1809-1882 Scientist Originated the theory of organic evolution by means of natural selection
12 7 x       Ts'ai Lun [Zai Lun or Cai Lun]  50-121 Political official in China Invented paper
13 11 x 8 18 26 Louis Pasteur  1822-1895 Chemist and biologist Germ theory and preventive inoculation; pasteurization
14 13 x       Aristotle  384-322 BC Philosopher and scientist Wrote over 170 books on astronomy, zoology, geography, etc; Originated the study of formal logic
15 14 x       Euclid  c. 325-270 BC. Teacher Wrote Elements, greatest textbook on geometry
16 15 x       Moses  c. 1,500-1,400 BC Prophet Political figure who led the Hebrews in the Exodus from Egypt; Frequently credited with writing the first five books of the Bible (the Jewish Torah); Encouraged the belief of monotheism (belief in one god)
17 17 x       Qin Shi Huang Ti  259-210 BC Chinese Emperor United China by force of arms and instituted a set of sweeping reforms. Built the first version of the Great Wall of China.
18 27 x 18 3 14 Karl Marx  1818-1883 Philosopher Principal originator of "scientific socialism"; His writings form the theoretical basis of Communism
19 31 x 11 3 5 William Shakespeare/
Edward de Vere
 1564-1616 writer greatest literary genius; Wrote at least 36 plays (including Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, Julius Caesar, and Othello), 154 sonnets, and a few longer poems
20 35 x 1 12 28 Thomas Edison  1847-1931 Inventor Developed over 1,000 inventions including the phonograph and the practical incandescent light bulb
21 ru x 5 13 9 Leonardo da Vinci  1452-1519 Scientist, artist Renaissance man in art & science
22 6         St. Paul the Apostle  5-67 Christian apostle Proselytizer of Christianity. Thirteen epistles, or letters, in the New Testament of the Bible are attributed to Paul.
23 34 x 12 13 16 Napoleon Bonaparte  1769-1821 General and Emperor French conqueror; Authorized the sale of land to the USA (known as the Louisiana Purchase)
24 28 x 20 35, 49 24 Orville and Wilbur Wright  1871-1948 & 1867-1912 Inventors Invented the first airplane
25 ru x 22 11 12 Mahatma Gandhi  1869-1948 political activist Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was the political and spiritual leader of India during the Indian independence movement. He also worked hard to preserve Hindu-Muslim relations. Apostle of non-violence
26 69 x 16 20 15 Sigmund Freud  1856-1939 Psychologist Originator of psychoanalysis
27 19   19 19 18 Nicolaus Copernicus  1473-1543 Lawyer; Astronomer Copernican Theory (First to assert the Earth revolves around the sun)
28 45 x 33 37 10 Ludwig van Beethoven  1770-1827 Composer Wrote nine symphonies, 32 piano sonatas, five piano concertos, ten sonatas for the piano and violin, a series of magnificent string quartets, vocal music, theater music, and much more
29 50 x 36 32 13 Michelangelo Buonarroti  1475-1564 Artist His work (paintings, statues, drawings, etc.) profoundly influenced the development of European painting and sculpture
30 39   13 6 20 Adolf Hitler  1889-1945 Political leader Leader of the Nazi party; Leader of Germany during WWII; Masterminded the Holocaust
31 26 x   42 22 George Washington  1732-1799 Political leader Military leader and first president of the United States
32 42 x 31 15 74 Alexander Graham Bell  1847-1922 Inventor Invented the telephone
33 44 x 47 63 11 John Locke  1632-1704 Philosopher "First writer to put together a coherent form of the basic ideas of constitutional democracy; liberal theologian; Some theories reflected in the American Declaration of Independence
34 18         Augustus Caesar  63 BC-19 AD Political leader Founder of the Roman Empire
35 ru x 35 29 32 Abraham Lincoln  1809-1865 Political leader freed the slaves & preserved the Union
36 38 x 27 31 95 Guglielmo Marconi  1874-1937 Inventor Invented the radio
37 78 x 52 51 19 Jean-Jacques Rousseau  1712-1778 Philosopher "Major influence on educational theory; Important factor in the rise of Romanticism in literture; liberal and socialist theory; influenced the French Revolution
38 21         Constantine the Great  272-337 Political leader Roman emperor who completely legalized Christianity, leading to its status as state religion. Convened the First Council of Nicaea that produced the Nicene Creed
39 33 x       Alexander the Great  356-323BC Political leader and conqueror Conquered and controlled vast amounts of land; Brought together Greek and Middle Eastern civilizations which resulted in cultural diffusion
40 48 x 25 81 48 Simon Bolivar  1783 -1830 Political leader Given the title, The Liberator; He led the liberation of five S. American countries from Spanish rule
41 49   32 41 25 Rene Descartes  1596-1650 Philosopher, scientist, and mathematician Invented analytic geometry; Rationalist philosopher
42 ru x 7 66 42 Ferdinand Magellan  1480-1521 Explorer navigator of the first ship around the world
43 91   15 16 51 Henry Ford  1863-1947 Industrialist Introduced the theory of mass production into modern industry
44 72 x   27 35 Johann Sebastian Bach  1685-1750 Composer Considered to be one of the two or three composers of all time; First man to successfully combine the differing national styles of music which existed in Western Europe
45 64   10 39 64 Thomas Jefferson  1743-1826 Political leader Third president of the United States; Author of the Declaration of Independence
46 84   29 28 41 Vladimir Ilyich Lenin  1870-1924 Political leader Leader principally responsible for the establishment of Communism in Russia
47 89   28 17 50 Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-Tung)  1893-1976 Political leader Led the Communist party in China; Vastly transformed China politically, economically, socially, and culturally; social programs such as Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution
48 ru   34 50 8 Thomas Aquinas  1225-1274 philosopher & theologian Summa Theologica - A compilation of all of the main theological teachings of the time.
49 68   61 24 29 William the Conqueror  1027-1087 Monarch Led the Norman conquest of England which resulted in the blend of the French and Anglo-Saxon cultures
50 88 x 77 62 27 Peter the Great  1672-1725 Political Leader Generally acknowledged to be the most outstanding of the Russian czars (emperor); His policy of westernization was a major factor in the transformation of Russia into a great power
51 hm x 30 44 56 Martin Luther King, Jr.  1929-1968 clergyman, social reformer Champion of civil rights
52 40 x       Plato  428-348 BC Philosopher Wrote over 36 books (including the Republic); Considered one of the great fathers of Western thought
53 hm x 49 38 66 Marco Polo  1254-1324 Explorer world's most influential traveler
54 43 x   40 55 Alexander Fleming  1881-1955 Physician Discovered penicillin
55 94   88 30 31 Queen Elizabeth I  1533-1603 Monarch Her 45 year reign was marked by economic prosperity, a great literary flowering, and the rise of England to first rank among the world's naval powers
56 hm x 50 91 30 Dante Alighieri  1265-1321 writer poet who brought the divine to earth
57 53 x       Asoka  304-232 BC Political leader Third ruler of the Mauryan dynasty and considered the most important monarch in the history of India
58 29     22 43 Genghis Khan  1162-1227 Emperor Mongol conqueror; Ruthless leader who eventually ruled the largest empire in all of history
59 23 x 70 75   Michael Faraday  1791-1867 Inventor Invented the first electric motor; Discovered electromagnetic induction
60 79 x   66 40 Nicoli Machiavelli  1469-1527 writer and philosopher Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was the first modern political scientist as secretary to the Second Chancery of the Republic of Florence. He was a diplomat, political philosopher, musician, and a playwright. Wrote the Prince - a book often called the "handbook for dictators"
61 ru   75 26 75 Marie Curie  1867-1934 Scientist A pioneer in the field of radioactivity and the first person honored with two Nobel Prizes[1]--in physics and chemistry.
62 22 x   23   James Watt  1736-1819 Inventor Inventor of the first practical steam engine and key figure in the Industrial Revolution
63 hm x   24 52 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  1756-1791 Composer prolific composer of joyous music
64 30   74 36   Adam Smith  1723-1790 Philosopher Wrote The Wealth of Nations; Leading figure in the development of economic theory; expositor of capitalism
65 52         Umar ibn al-Khattab  586-644 Religious leader After Muhammad, Umar was the principle figure in the spread of Islam
66 54         St. Augustine  354-430 Theologian His writings profoundly influenced Christian doctrines and attitudes throughout the Middle Ages
67 57   40   69 John Calvin  1509-1564 Theologian Influential Protestant leader who developed Calvinism (importance of the Bible, dedication to hard work, etc.)
68 ru   56 94 63 Louis XIV  1638-1715 Monarch the "Sun King" who empowered himself
69 hm   54 48 83 Joan of Arc  1411-1431 military leader heroic patron saint of France
70     26 81 45 Mary Wollstonecraft  1759-1797 political activist Championed women's rights
71 hm   58 81 49 Immanuel Kant  1724-1804 Philosopher metaphysician of the modern world
72 74     66 36 Voltaire  1694-1778 writer and philosopher Wrote numerous books - most famous, Candide; Influenced political thought which ultimately resulted in the French Revolution
73 20   80   67 Antoine Laurent Lavoisier  1743-1794 Scientist Organized the system of chemical theory
74 hm x   71 37 Franklin Delano Roosevelt  1882-1945 Political leader protector of the American way of life
75 58   46 73   Gregor Mendel  1822-1884 Monk and teacher Discovered the basic principles of heredity
76 66     32 82 Joseph Stalin  1878-1953 Political leader Ruthless dictator of the Soviet Union
77 60 x 43     Joseph Lister  1827-1912 Physician Introduced the use of antiseptic measures in surgery
78 hm     21 38 Winston Churchill  1874-1965 Political leader hero of England's finest hour
79 73 x       Lao Tzu [Lao Zi]  600-470 BC Author Wrote Tao Te Ching; This book is the basis for Taoism
80 hm x 78 54   Pablo Picasso  1881-1973 Painters, Sculptors and Architects  
81 ru     58 54 Benjamin Franklin  1706-1790 Political philosopher, writer, inventer a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. the first American ambassador to France.
82 70     66 90 Edward Jenner  1749-1823 Physician Developed and popularized the technique of vaccination as a preventive measure against smallpox
83 hm x 23     Kublai Khan  1214-1294 Kings,
Emperors and Politicians
Grandson of Genghis Khan, The fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China.
84 95 x   74   Mikhail Gorbachev  1931- Present Political leader Soviet leader who led the decline and fall of the old Soviet regime and the democratization of the new Russia
85 55       47 William Harvey  1578-1657 Physician Discovered the circulation of blood and the function of the heart
86 63   42     Hernando Cortes  1485-1547 Adventurer and conqueror Conquered the Aztec Empire of Mexico
87 ru     52 100 Henry VIII  1491-1547 Kings, Emperors England's first Protestant King
88 hm x 39     Samuel Finley Breese Morse  1791-1872 Inventor Improved telegraph to make it practical. The telgraph was patented in Morse's name. Co-inventor of the Morse code, and an accomplished painter.
89 hm x   71, 76   James Watson and Francis Crick  1928-; 1916- Scientists Awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine "for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids (DNA) and its significance for information transfer in living material".
90 24   96     James Clerk Maxwell  1831-1879 Physicist Developed a set of four equations that best express the basic laws of electricity and magnetism; electromagnetic spectrum
91 47   79     Louis Daguerre  1787-1851 Inventor Developed the first practical method of photography
92 75       33 Johannes Kepler  1571-1630 Historian and philosopher Discovered the laws of planetary motion
93 51       65 Pope Urban II  1035-1099 Religious leader Gave the order to start the First Christian Crusades
94 67 x       Julius Caesar  100-44 BC Military and political leader Played a significant role in the downfall of the Roman Republic; Under his leadership, Roman troops conquered Gaul which provided security for the Roman Empire
95 86   37     Vasco da Gama  1460-1524 Explorer Discovered the direct sea route from Europe to India by sailing around Africa
96   x 91 43   Nelson Mandela  1918- Politician Mandela served 27 years in prison for anti-apartheid activism in South Africa. Following his release from prison in 1990, Mandela led his party in the negotiations that led to multi-racial democracy in 1994. He became president from 1994.
97   x   80 46 Rembrandt van Rijn  1606-1669 painter master painter of chiaroscuro
98     38 100 71 Suleiman the Magnificent  1494-1566 Political leader Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
99 93 x       Zoroaster  628-551 BC Prophet Founder of Zoroastrianism, a religion that has endured for over 2,500 years and still has followers today
100 98 x       Homer  850 BC (approx) Author Wrote the Iliad and Odyssey; Influenced Greek poets and playwrights
101     41 46   Florence Nightingale  1820-1910 medicine, nurse She came to prominence for her pioneering work in nursing during the Crimean War, where she tended to wounded soldiers.
102 41     98   Oliver Cromwell  1599-1658 Military leader Man most responsible for eventual establishment of parliamentary democracy as the English form of government
103   x   89 70 Charles Dickens  1812-1870 Writer novelist of the industrial age
104 hm x   78   Neil Armstrong  1930- Explorers and Pioneers Test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor, and United States Naval Aviator. He was the first person to set foot on the Moon.
105 hm   17     Richard Arkwright  1732-1792 Inventor inventor of the industrial cotton spinning mill
106 hm   24     James Madison  1751-1836 politician fourth President of the United States
107     93   34 Leo Tolstoy  1828-1910 Writer the giant of Russian literature
108 61 x       Nikolaus August Otto  1832-1891 Inventor Built the first four-stroke internal combustion engine
109     55   79 Frederick Douglass  1817-1895 social reformer abolitionist leader
110       57 80 J. Robert Oppenheimer  1904-1967 Scientist director of the first atomic bomb project
111       47 91 Queen Victoria  1819-1901 monarch the mother of all monarchs
112   x   55   Alfred Nobel  1833-1896 Inventors Swedish chemist, engineer, innovator, armaments manufacturer and the inventor of dynamite. He used his enormous fortune to institute the Nobel Prizes.
113     64   78 Pope Innocent III  1160-1216 Religious Leader champion of papal power
114 81     87   John F. Kennedy  1917-1963 Political leader President of the United States; The person who was primarily responsible for instituting the Apollo Space Program
115     90 59   Walt Disney  1901-1966 Movie producer an innovator in animation and theme park design
116 90       84 Francis Bacon  1561-1626 Politician and philosopher The first great philosopher to realize that science and technology could transform the world, and an effective advocate of scientific investigation
117   x 69     Louis Armstrong  1898-1971 Musicians and Composers An "inventive" cornet and trumpet player, Armstrong was a foundational influence on jazz. An influential singer with his distinctive gravelly voice.
118 97 x       Charlemagne  742-814 Emperor Medieval emperor was the king of Franks, conqueror of Saxony, founder of the Holy Roman Empire, and one of the foremost rulers in European history
119 ru x       Archimedes  c. 287- 212 BC Scientist A Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer.
120 32         John Dalton  1766-1844 Scientist Introduced the atomic hypothesis into the mainstream of science
121 36         Antony van Leeuwenhoek  1632-1723 Government worker Discovered microbes
122 37         William T.G. Morton  1819-1868 Dentist Introduced the use of anesthesia in surgery
123 46         Werner Heisenberg  1901-1976 Physicist Played a significant role in the creation of quantum mechanics
124     81   94 Phineas T. Barnum  1810-1891   master showman of sales & advertising
125 56         Ernest Rutherford  1871-1937 Physicist Originated the study of nuclear physics
126 59         Max Planck  1858-1947 Physicist Generally considered to be the father of quantum mechanics (developed Planck's theory)
127 62         Francisco Pizarro  1476-1541 Adventurer and conqueror Conquered the Inca Empire of Peru
128 65         Queen Isabella I  1451-1504 Political ruler Financed Columbus's voyage across the Atlantic Ocean; Instituted the Spanish Inquistion
129 71         Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen  1845-1923 Scientist Developed the use of X-rays
130 76         Enrico Fermi  1901-1954 Scientist Designed the first nuclear reactor
131 77         Leonhard Euler  1707-1783 Mathematician and physicist One of the most brilliant and prolific scientists of all time; Wrote 32 full length books concerning practical applications of laws of mechanics
132 80         Thomas Malthus  1766-1834 Parson (member of the clergy) and professor of history and political economy First person to stress the overwhelming importance of the problem of overpopulation and to bring this problem to the attention of the intellectual world
133 82         Gregory Pincus  1903 -1967 Biologist Led the way in the development of the oral contraceptive pill
134 83         Mani  216-276 Prophet Founder of Manichaeism - a religion which, though extinct today, at its height had a very large number of follwers
135 85         Sui Wen Ti  541-604 Emperor Reunified China after it had been badly divided for hundreds of years; As a result, China continues on the path of a powerful nation
136 87         Cyrus the Great  600-530 BC Military and political leader Founder of the Persian Empire (united most of the ancient Middle East into a single state stretching from India to the Mediterranean Sea)
137 92         Mencius  372 - 289 BC Philosopher Wrote, Book of Mencius; Immensely influential writer in China
138 96         Menes 3420-3345 BC Monarch Original king of the first Egyptian dynasty; First ruler to unite Egypt
139 99         Justinian I  483-565 Emperor Emperor renowned for the great codification of Roman law that was carried out during his reign; Later formed the basis for the development of the law in many European countries
140 100         Mahavira  599-527 BC Religious leader Founder of Jainism
141 hm x       Frank Lloyd Wright  1869-1959 Painters, Sculptors and Architects American architect, interior designer, writer and educator.
142 hm x       Socrates  469-399 B.C. Thinkers and Philosophers One of the founders of Western philosophy. Teacher of Plato.
143 hm x       Hammurabi c. 1792-1750 BC King, Emperor King of the Babylonian Empire. Known for the set of laws called Hammurabi's Code, one of the first written codes of law in recorded history.
144 hm   53     Niels Bohr  1885-1962 Scientist A Danish physicist who made fundamental contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922
145 hm       58 Frederick the Great  1712-1786 Political ruler King of Prussia; The sword of German militarism
146 hm       59 Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel  1770-1831 Philosopher philospher of history
147 hm     63   Henry the Navigator  1394-1460 Explorer Portuguese prince. employ some cartographers to help him chart the coast of North Africa in the wake of voyages he sent there,
148 hm   83     Susan B. Anthony  1820-1906 social reformer Played a pivotal role in the 19th century women's rights movement to introduce women's suffrage into the United States.
149 hm       87 Vladimir K. Zworykin  1889-1982   television pioneer
150 hm       88 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz  1646-1716 Mathematician inventor of calculus & symbolic logic
151 ru         Cheops (Khufu)  25??-2566 BC Political leader A Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt's Old Kingdom. He is generally accepted as being the builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
152   x       Virgil  70-19 BC Writer One of Rome's greatest poets.
153 ru         Charles Babbage  1791-1871 Inventor An English mathematician, philosopher, inventor, and mechanical engineer
* Hart recognized that ranking Muhammad first might be controversial, but felt that, from a secular historian's perspective, this was the correct choice because Muhammad is the only man to have been both a founder of a major world religion and a major military/political leader. He also states in his introduction that "Muhammad had a much greater personal influence on the formulation of the Moslem religion than Jesus had on the Christian religion." (The Gospel writers, St. Paul ranked #6 in Hart's list and Emperor Constantine #21 share some of the credit for the spread of Christianity. Ed.). "That does not imply that I think Muhammad was a greater man than Jesus."

- Some teachers claim that Christ was the only founder of a religion who claimed to be a deity, but there is disagreement on this point.
See Christ Deity and the Trinity in religion.

There is a controversy about the author of the Shakespeare plays. William Shakespeare of Stratford was an actor, Edward de Vere, was the Earl of Oxford.
The Oxford theory (anti-Stratfordians), proposes de Vere as the author because of parallels between his life and plots in the plays.
They also say that William Shakespeare lacked the education, aristocratic sensibility, or familiarity with the royal court that they say is apparent in the works.

Objections point out that de Vere was a patron of a competing theater company, so why would he contribute his plays the Stratford Theater.
Academic Shakespeareans and literary historians rely on documentary evidence in the form of title page attributions, government records, and contemporary testimony from poets, historians, and those players and playwrights who worked with him, as well as modern stylometric (linguistic style,) studies. All these converge to confirm William Shakespeare's authorship. The film Anonymous in 2011 has stirred up the debate.
See Shakespeare authorship question at Wikipedia

Runner up list (people in the top 50 of one other list):
Albert Schweitzer, Zheng He, Akbar, Mother Teresa, Zhu Xi, Desmond Tutu, Blaise Pascal, Ibn Battuta, King John, Osama Bin Laden , The Dalai Lama.

Number by category in Hart's list:
Scientists & Inventors 37 Religious Leaders 11
Political & Military Leaders 30 Artistic & Literary figures 6
Secular Philosophers 14 Explorers 2
Religious affiliations in Hart's list
Catholic 31%   pre-Nicene Christianity 3%
Anglican/Episcopalian 13% Platonism 3%
Jewish 7% Islam 2%
Atheist 6% Hindu 2%
Greco-Roman paganism 6% Buddhist 2%
Chinese traditional religion/Confucianism 5% Presbyterian 2%
Lutheran 5% Protestant (denomination unknown) 6%
Russian Orthodox 4% Other 25%
Some changed religions so it adds up to more than 100%

Most popular names: 4 occurrences: James, John, Lewis, Thomas
3: Alexander, Charles, Henry, William

Others - 170 appearing in only one list or Harts honorable mention:
Abraham
Jane Addams
Aesop
Howard H. Aiken
Akbar
Roald Amundsen
Aristarchus of Samos
Jalal Ad-Din Ar-Rumi
Kemal Ataturk
Babur
John Baird
Roger Bannister
Frederick Banting
Ibn Battuta
The Beatles
Simone De Beauvoir
Antoine Henri Becquerel
Jeremy Bentham
Otto von Bismark
Wernher von Braun
Bertolt Brecht
Louis de Broglie
Filippo Brunelleschi
Santiago Ramon Y Cajal
Nicolas Sadi Carnot
Rachel Carson
Henri Cartier-Bresson
Miguel de Cervantes
Paul Cezanne
Charlie Chaplin
Charles V
Geoffrey Chaucer
Chu Hsi
Chu Yuean-chang
Winston Churchhill
Karl von Clausewitz
Rudolf Clausius
James Cook
Le Corbusier
Gottlieb Daimler
King David
Democritus
Hanc Dongfang
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
John Eckert
Mary Baker Eddy
Sergei Eisenstein
Elvis Presley
Desiderius Erasmus
Robert C. W. Ettinger
George Fox
Francis of Assisi
Betty Friedan
Yuri Gagarin
Galen
Bill Gates
Karl Friedrich Gauss
George Gershwin
Vincent van Gogh
Guido Of Arezzo
Hammurabi
John Harrison
Georg W. F. Hegel
Henry VIII
Theodor Herzl
Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Hippocrates
Thomas Hobbes
Hokusai
Katsushika Hokusai
Edwin Hubble
Alexander von Humboldt
James Hutton
Ibn-Khaldun
Ibn-Sina
Ikhnaton
Isaiah
William Le Baron Jenney
King John
Helen Keller
John Maynard Keynes
John M. Keynes
Har Gobind Khorana
Alfred C. Kinsey
Gustav Kirchhoff
Fan Kuan
The Dalai Lama
Antony van Leeuwenhoek
Etienne Lenoir
Carolus Linnaeus
Samuel Lister
Ignatius Loyola
Marsilius of Padua
The Virgin Mary
Hiram Maxim
Catherine De Medicis
Dmitri Mendeleev
John Stuart Mill
John Milton
Moliere
Montesquieu
Maria Montessori
Claudio Monteverdi
Wolfgang Mozart
Muawiya I 
John Von Neumann
Kwame Nkrumah
Gerard K. O'Neill
Andrea Palladio
Liu Pang
Emmeline Pankhurst
Blaise Pascal
Linus Pauling
Ivan Pavlov
Pope John Paul II
Pope John XXIII
Ptolemy
Pythagoras
Raphael
Ronald Reagan
Jean Renoir
Matteo Ricci
Maximilien Robespierre
John D. Rockefeller
Franklin Roosevelt
Saladin
Jonas Salk

Margaret Sanger
Sankara
Erwin Schrodinger
Murasaki Shikibu
William B. Shockley
Joseph Smith
Sophocles
Diana Spencer
Steven Spielberg
St. Thomas Aquinas
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Chiune Sugihara
William Henry Talbot
Tamurlane
Edward Teller
Meijo Tenno
Mother Teresa
Nikola Tesla
Henry David Thoreau
Arturo Toscanini
Charles H. Townes
Harry S. Truman
Alan Turing
Joseph Mallord William Turner
Desmond Tutu
Mark Twain
Virgil
Alessandro Volta
Richard Wagner
Selman A. Waksman
Raoul Wallenberg
Robert Watson-Watt
Orson Welles
Christopher Wren
Louis XIV
Cao Xueqin
Sun Yat-sen
Boris Yeltsin
Zheng He
Zhu Xi
Vladimir Zworykin

Some important minorities who were not in the lists:
Hart states that "Influence comes from talent and opportunity, and the lack of women and some ethnic groups is because of lack of opportunity over history.
Note: This list is not complete.
Desmond Tutu, Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens, Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, W. E. B. Du Bois, Harriet Tubman, Malcom X, Rosa Parks, Clarence Thomas, Condoleeza Rice, Carol Moseley Braun, Dred Scott, John Brown, Barack Obama, Haile Selassie.
Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, Hernando de Soto, César Chávez, Luis Walter Alvarez, Mario Molina, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Salvador Dalí, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Roberto Clemente, Sonia Sotomayor.
Famous Hispanics in the World and History
50 Most Important Hispanics in Technology & Business

50 Women Who Changed the World | Biography Online
Amazon.com: The 100 Most Influential Women of All Time: A Ranking Past and Present - list at adherents.com


Other lists:
I will eventually merge these into the master list above.

Books and Lists Ranking People in Various Categories

Basic Famous People.com
Top 10
1	Jesus of Nazareth
2	Albert Einstein
3	Isaac Newton
4	Paul the Apostle
5	Moses
6	Muhammad
7	Cai Lun
8	Johannes Gutenberg
9	Christopher Columbus
10	Louis Pasteur
Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness, Eric Metaxas, 2013
George Washington
William Wilberforce
Eric Liddell
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Jackie Robinson
Pope John Paul II
Charles W. Colson
7 Christian men, each of whom uniquely showcases a commitment to live by certain virtues.
How did George Washington resist the temptation to become the first king of America, and why did William Wilberforce give up the chance to be prime minister of England? What made Eric Liddell cast aside an almost certain Olympic gold medal? What enabled Jackie Robinson to surrender his right to fight back against racists, or Dietrich Bonhoeffer to jeopardize his freedom and safety to defy the Nazis? What gave John Paul II the ability to identify with the most helpless members of human society and even to forgive the man who tried to murder him? And why would Chuck Colson volunteer to go to prison when he didn’t have to?
List of Top 100 Famous People at BiographyOnline.com
75 Famous World Figures at AussieEducator.org.au
50 Women Who Changed the World | Biography Online

Ian Whitelaw and Julie Whitelaw. History Makers: 100 Most Influential People of the Twentieth Century, 2010
Used google hits and the length of Wikipedia articles to rank people in the 20th century. They discounted more recent entries to account for interest in current events, but it still came up weighted toward show business. The top ones were:
1. Einstein, 2. Henry Ford, 3. Pope John Paul II, 4. Walt Disney, 5. Elvis Presley, 6. Hitler, 7. John F. Kennedy, 8. Martin Luther King Jr., 9. Wright Brothers, 10. Freud, 11. Miles Davis, 12. Salvador Dalí, 13. Marilyn Monroe, 14. Michael Jackson, 15. James Dean

Charles Murray, from the book "Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 BC to 1950", computes scores by calculating the amount of space allocated to them in reference works, an area of research sometimes referred to as historiometry.
The 10 highest scores in order go to (See: list at wikipedia):
Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Leonhard Euler, James Watt, Thomas Edison, Galileo Galilei, Ernest Rutherford, Michael Faraday, Euclid, Carl Friedrich Gauss, Aristotle.
Murray points out that nearly all scientific progress, and all important scientific and artistic ideas, were made by white Europeans or their descendants. It is interesting that Darwin comes out about 40 in his list, just among scientists, where all other lists have Darwin between 7 and 16 in all disciplines. He also lists Pierre Curie above Marie Curie even though other lists have Marie first. Murray, whose 1994 book, "The Bell Curve", funded by the conservative American Enterprise Institute, sparked a debate about race, poverty and IQ.

Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Biography/Core_biographies/Published_Lists references 6 lists.
Eight people were listed in 5 or 6 of the lists:
Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, Galileo Galilei, John Locke, Isaac Newton, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Mao Zedong

23 people were in 4 lists:
Adam Smith, Adolf Hitler, Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, Copernicus, Gregor Mendel, Guglielmo Marconi, Henry Ford, Johannes Kepler, John Calvin, Karl Marx, Lenin, Leo Tolstoy, Leonardo da Vinci, Louis Pasteur, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Marie Curie, Martin Luther, Michelangelo, Mohandas Gandhi, Rene Descartes, Thomas Edison, William Shakespeare, Wright Brothers

The Time 100 is an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world today.

Examples of web search hits (Millions)
We tried to remove related hits (e.g. "church of christ" and "christ's church" when searching for christ, but it is difficult to get accurate counts.) When we search for Darwin we get 51 million hits, "Charles Darwin" gives 5 million and Darwin and Evolution gives 14 million.
Buddah (120), Jesus Christ (100), Mohammed (87), Hitler (35), Einstein (29), Aristotle (17), Darwin (14), Martin Luther King (12), Gutenberg (7), John F. Kennedy (6), Alexander the Great (5.5), Giuseppe Verdi (5.4), Moses (4.5), Babe Ruth (4.8), T.S. Eliot (3.9), Martin Luther (not King) (3.7), Leonard Bernstein (3.7), Billy Graham (3.2), Aldous Huxley (3.2), Isaac Newton (3), Jean-Paul Sartre (2.7), Mother Teresa (2.5), Wolfgang von Goethe (2.1), Albert Schweitzer (2.0), Dwight D. Eisenhower (1.8), Mikhail Gorbachev (1.8), T. E. Lawrence (1.6), Harry Truman (1.3), Bill Gates (1.3), John D. Rockefeller (1.1), Dalai Lama (1.0),

The Book of Genus, by Buzan and Keen lists the smartest people:

  1. Leonardo da Vinci
  2. William Shakespeare
  3. The Great Pyramid Builders
  4. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  5. Michelangelo
  1. Isaac Newton
  2. Thomas Jefferson
  3. Alexander the Great
  4. Phidias (architect of Athens)
  5. Einstein

Science
Thales of Miletus, Greece [624 BC - 546 BC]
Greek philosopher. The father of Science. Thales attempted to explain natural phenomena without reference to mythology.
Pythagoras of Samos [569 BC - 475 BC]
Greek philosopher. Made important developments in mathematics, astronomy, and the theory of music. The theorem (right triangle a2 + b2 = c2) now known as Pythagoras's theorem was known to the Babylonians 1000 years earlier but he may have been the first to prove it.
Aristotle [384 BC - 322 BC]
His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology.
Euclid [abt. 300 BC]
Greek mathematician. The father of Geometry.
Archimedes [287 BC - 212 BC]
Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer.
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
Known primarily for his art, He made important discoveries in anatomy, civil engineering, optics, and hydrodynamics, but he did not publish his findings and they had no direct influence on later science.
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543)
Polish Renaissance mathematician and astronomer who formulated a heliocentric model of the universe which placed the Sun, rather than the Earth, at the center.
Galileo Galilei (1464-1642)
Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution.
Johannes Kepler [1571-1630]
Blaise Pascal [1623-1662]
Christiaan Huygens [1629-1695]
Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
English physicist and mathematician who is widely regarded as one of the most influential scientists of all time and as a key figure in the scientific revolution.
Albert Einstein, Leonhard Euler, James Watt, Thomas Edison, Ernest Rutherford, Michael Faraday, Euclid, Carl Friedrich Gauss, Pierre de Fermat, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Henry Cavendish, Rene Descartes, Niels Bohr, Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, Georg Cantor, J.J. Thomson, James Clerk Maxwell, Guglielmo Marconi, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Bernhard Riemann, Pierre Curie, Louis Pasteur

Medicine

Hippocrates of Cos [460 BC - 377 BC]
Greek physician. The father of western medicine. Greatly advanced the systematic study of clinical medicine.
Sung dynasty, China [960-1280]
Used a procedure known as variolation, in which small amounts of the powdered crusts of smallpox pustules were inhaled or placed into a scratch made in the skin. Usually the resulting disease was mild, and a permanent immunity to smallpox resulted.
Antony van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723)
Dutch drapery merchant and amateur scientist constructed a magnifying glass which allowed him to see microbes (bacteria and protozoa) in a drop of lake water.
In a letter to the Royal Society of London he descrived:
"...Very many little animalcules, whereof some were roundish, while others a bit bigger consisted of an oval. On these last, I saw two little legs near the head, and two little fins at the hind most end of the body. "
Mary Wortley Montagu [1717]
Wife of the British ambassador to Turkey, had their children immunized against smallpox by variolation and it became popular in Europe.
Louis Pasteur [1822-1895]
Discovered that there were germs in the air that caused liquids to go off. He went on to develop a process which he called 'pasteurisation', killing the germs by boiling. He used this discovery to help treat diseases and with the British doctor Edward Jenner he developed a process of vaccination against the killer disease, smallpox. Pasteur went on to discover vaccinations for chicken pox, cholera, diphtheria, anthrax and rabies. He recommended that surgical instruments be boiled before an operation to kill any germs on them, but most surgeons ignored this advice. This had to wait until aseptic surgery developed in the 20th century. Story
Samuel Morse [1791-1872]
Improved telegraph to make it practical. The telgraph was patented in Morse's name. Co-inventor of the Morse code, and an accomplished painter.
Edward Jenner [1840]
Country doctor in Gloucestershire. (Considered the father of vaccination although variolation had been used earlier; see above). Found smallpox "Vaccination" using less dangerous cowpox with help of research on germs from Louis Pasteur.
Wilhelm K. Roentgen [1901]
-Germany - X-ray
Marie Curie (1867 - 1934)
Discovered radium, a radioactive substance, in uranium oxide ore The research of Marie and Pierre Curie was crucial in the development of x-rays in surgery.
Sir Alexander Fleming [1928]
St. Mary's Hospital Medical School, London University. 1928 he discovered penicillin.
Maurice Ralph Hilleman [1941-84]
Dr. Hilleman created eight of the 14 most commonly used vaccines, including those for mumps, measles, chicken pox, pneumonia, meningitis, rubella and many other infectious diseases. He pioneered the development of vaccines against hepatitis A and hepatitis B and discovered the genetic changes that occur when the influenza virus mutates, known as shift and drift. He worked at E.R. Squibb & Sons, The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and Merck & Co.
Jonas Salk [1952]
polio vaccine
James Watson, Francis Crick, Roslynd Franklin. [1953]
Crick and Watson at Cambridge came up with the double helix, the model that resembles a twisted ladder, for wich they recieved the Nobel Prize. Their discovery was based on the x-ray diffraction images from Roslyn Franklin. Story.
Francis Collins
American physician-geneticist, noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes.
Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the NIH from 1993-2008. Director of NIH from 2009.
Craig Venter
An American biologist and entrepreneur, most famous for his role in being one of the first to sequence the human genome and for his role in creating the first cell with a synthetic genome in 2010.
Jacques Miller [1961]
Father of modern immunology. Melbourne University. In 1961 he discovered how the thymus produced t-cells, crucial to the immune system.
Kary Mullis [1993]
Mullis invented Polymerase chain reaction (PCR), the process for amplifying nucleic acids, in 1993 while at Cetus Corporation. PCR has revolutionized the fields of microbiology, medical diagnostics, and forensics. It is used to discover faulty genes in hereditary diseases and diagnose viral and bacterial infections, including HIV.
Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 - 1519)
Da Vinci is most famous now for his inventions: his bicycle, airplane, helicopter, and parachute were all some 500 years ahead of their time. Artwork includes the Mona Lisa in the Louvre and The Last Supper in Milan. Scientific work in his notebooks included geology, anatomy, flight, gravity and optics, but he never published it. Story
Carl Djerassi
"Father of the birth control pill"? Because millions of unwanted children were not produced, countless suffering has been abolished (including decreases in crime, child abuse, and ecological nightmares). With women gaining more control over their reproductive fate, society has changed. Reliable birth control became as easy as taking a pill, which some call the single greatest factor in helping women achieve equality.
The Time 100

2007 list of 25 most influential people at USA Today (As of Jan. 2011 I couldn't find a more recent list).

1 Bill Gates software entrepreneur
2 Ronald Reagan 40th U.S. president
3 Oprah Winfrey talk show host
4&5 Francis Collins & J. Craig Venter mappers of the human genome
6 Osama bin Laden terrorist
7 Stephen Hawking physicist
8 Lance Armstrong cyclist and cancer activist
9 Pope John Paul II pontiff
10 Bono rock musician and activist for Africa
11 Mikhail Gorbachev Soviet leader
12&13 Sergey Brin & Larry Page co-founders of Google
14 George W. Bush 43rd president
15 Sam Walton retailing pionee
16 Deng Xiaoping Chinese leader
17 Michael Jordan basketball star
18 Howard Schultz Starbucks entrepreneur
19 Nelson Mandela anti-apartheid leader
20 J.K. Rowling author

21&22 Bill & Hillary Clinton 42nd president & N.Y. senator
23 Russell Simmons hip-hop pioneer
24 Ryan White the face of AIDS
25 Homer Simpson Everyman
Books:
The 100: A Ranking Of The Most Influential Persons In History, by Michael H. Hart, 2000

Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 BC to 1950 is a book by Charles Murray.
See: list at wikipedia

Breese, Dave. Seven Men Who Rule the World From the Grave. Chicago: Moody Press, 1990.

Keynes (1883-1946), Dewey (1859-1952), Freud (1856-1939), Wellhausen (1844-1918), Marx (1818-1883), Kierkegaard (1813-1855), Darwin (1809-1882)
How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It, 2001, Arthur Herman
See Famous Scots

Links:
100s; 100 Lists: Books and Listings Ranking Influential People at adherents.com
Famous People - Famous People in History, Famous People List & Biography
The Most Important Medical Events Of The 20th Century
Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Biography/Core_biographies/Published_Lists
The 50 Most Influential Christians of All Time at Brainz.org
BasicFamousPeople.com
Good People
Conservationists - Environmentalists
Famous Scots
Historic Figures at the BBC
TIME 100 - People of the Century
The 2011 TIME 100
U.S. President Ratings
Historic Figures at the BBC
Nobel Prize Winners at: nobelprize.org/, and The Nobel Prize Internet Archive

last updated 20 May 2013