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Celebrities who studied computer science

As the work of computer scientists becomes more prevalent in our day to day lives, the demand for graduates in this area grows too. However, you might be surprised to learn there are a host of celebrities who also studied computer science before they exchanged networking for notoriety. From actors and chat show hosts to models and entrepreneurs, read on to discover the software superstars and pop culture programmers who also graduated in computer science.

By Grant Longstaff. Published 29 August 2023.

Karlie Kloss

Karlie Kloss is best known for her career in modelling, having appeared on the cover of Vogue over 40 times. However, Kloss is also a computer programmer highly skilled in web development and is passionate about sharing her enthusiasm for tech with others. In 2015 she launched Kode with Klossy, a summer coding camp for girls, gender nonconforming, and trans students, where participants can learn more about web development, coding languages, building apps and AI.

Mark Zuckerberg

Whether you love it or hate it, you can’t deny the power of Facebook. Over two billion people use it every day, so it’s no surprise the creator is known the world over. Zuckerberg’s interest in computers began at an early age, long before he began studying psychology and computer science at Harvard. He created a program to help his father sync information between his office and home, and in high school, Zuckerberg built a music player that used machine learning to follow users' listening habits. He began working on what would eventually become Facebook in college, the controversial story of which was immortalised in David Fincher’s 2010 film “The Social Network”.

Lyndsey Scott

Whilst it might be Scott’s achievements in the modelling world that made her famous – she was the first African American to sign an exclusive runway contract with Calvin Klein – she is also known as a software developer. Scott started programming at just 12 years old, creating games on a graphing calculator and sharing them with her classmates. She then went on to study computer science at college and has since used her platform to educate young women in programming and is a mentor at Girls Who Code. Scott has also been credited as challenging stereotypes in both the modelling and computer science world, telling the BBC in 2018, “Programmers can come in all shapes, sizes, genders, races, etcetera… I hope [people] think twice before doubting other women and girls they encounter in tech."

Ashton Kutcher

Kutcher’s proficiency in computer science wasn’t developed during his 2013 portrayal of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, in the biopic “Jobs”. In fact, it was during his time at college studying biochemical engineering that Kutcher discovered coding and developed a love of tech. Outside of his acting career, he is a vocal champion of technology and supporter of Code.org, a non-profit organisation encouraging young people, particularly those from underrepresented groups, into computer science. He also co-founded Thorn, an organisation which aims to combat human trafficking and child sexual exploitation with technology.

Larry Page

You may not recognise the name Larry Page but trust us when we say you know his work. Page is the co-founder of one of the biggest, and most powerful, companies in the world – Google. His interest in computers began at an early age and would eventually lead him to study for a computer engineering degree followed by a PhD in computer science. His dissertation, which examined the mathematical properties of the World Wide Web, was the first step towards Google. From its humble beginnings as a search engine, Google has expanded into areas such as AI, computer software, and quantum computing.

Anita Borg

Anita Borg is a name synonymous with computer science. She worked in areas such as synchronisation and fault tolerance of operating systems, and her work still plays a role in the field today. As well as her contributions to the discipline, Borg was also an advocate for women’s representation in tech industries. In 1987 Borg formed Systers, an international mailing list for women working in computer science, which is still operating today. Ten years later, she founded the Institute for Women in Technology, which aimed to increase the representation of women in technical fields. It has since grown into a leading organisation for women in technology and works with people in over 50 countries around the globe. Following Borg’s death, the organisation has changed its name to AnitaB.org, in honour of its founder.

Many other celebrities have dabbled in computer science. Liam Neeson began a degree in physics and computer science before he turned to acting, which could have left him with a very different set of skills. Jimmy Fallon is well versed in C++, and, in a previous blog, we also covered the work of some of the most important women in computer science.

 

If you’re considering a career in computer science take a look at our BSc (Hons) Computer Science or MSc Computer Science (Conversion) and enrol now.