The Android Community is full of bright minds and hard working developers. Amongst community members is a group of individuals responsible for opening up our devices and achieving what manufacturers could not – fully functional smartphones.

Not a single Android enthusiast can say, “What is CyanogenMod.” That name is notorious throughout the community for its AOSP-based ROMs. Cyanogen, AKA Steve Kondik, has been around since the G1 days. He is not alone however; there are many awe inspiring individuals that often go unrecognized amongst the growing crowd of Android owners. Those developers deserve our thanks and praise for being the ones who started it all. Without their countless hours, Android may have turned a passing phase and a cheap iPhone clone – as suggested by fanboys and Apple employees alike. Just who are those developers and what did they accomplish? I am here to bring them out of the shadows and give the thanks they deserve.

We are going to take a trip back in time, when the T-Mobile’s HTC G1 was the top of the line, Android phone. Although an open source project, devices were not (and are still not, without work) capable of being modified beyond normal, everyday use. This posed a problem for developers wanting to bring out the best in Android. It did not stop them from trying, however.

XDA-Developer member, SlasPood discovered a bug in the Android OS that allowed commands typed on the keyboard to be sent to a root shell running in the background. This exploit opened a backdoor that made initial root possible by using a Wi-Fi connection and command prompt. The telnetd bug was patched by version RC30, but XDA member Koush provided instructions on how to downgrade the G1 and continue to go through the backdoor.

Koush is also known for creating the first superuser application, ClockworkMod Recovery, Rom Manager, Tether, DeskSMS, and as a developer on #teamcyanogen.

First two thanks go to SlasPood and Koush.

Once root access was obtained, developers started creating custom ROMs to work with their G1. The first successful ROM was built by XDA-Developer, JesusFreke. He was also a key player in obtaining root access and was responsible for developing the first modified recovery and boot image. Cyanogen is what you would call, the modern day JesusFreke.

Cyanogen started his career with ports. He used SDK system images and libraries to create stable ROMS – this is now knows as a “winzip dev”. He created his own custom recovery along with an application that would install it for you, by taking JesusFreke’s recovery and adding some new scripts.

Next two thanks go to JesusFreke and Cyanogen.

Haykuro, who was one of the original ROM developers, is also well known for being the first to develop custom bootloaders.

Saurik, creator of Cydia for Apple devices, deserves thanks for all the changes to init and the G1 kernel, as well as the modules in /system/modules. He made it possible to install a full Linux distribution, Debian, onto the G1.

Then there was barakinflorida, who was the first to port another operating system to his device.

Finally, we have Stericson, the Godfather of Android Theming. His application, MetaMorph, allowed themers to patch files within .jar and .apk files. Less than a year later, he released NinjaMorph that allowed for theming and modification of apks and jars right from your phone. He is also known for creating the most trusted and most popular, BusyBox installer, as well as a list of other apps available on Google Play.

Final thanks go to Kaykuro, Saurik, Barakinflorida, and Stericson.

While these players are not the only ones on the field, they are certainly some of the key players that have contributed to the success of the Android platform. All deserve a round of applause and a beer.