As we head toward the end of one of history's most amazing centuries, we at TIME are embarking on an ambitious project. Its goal is to tell the story of the century, and to preview the coming millennium, by looking at the 100 people who have had the most impact on our world and the way we'll live in the future.

Beginning next year, we'll publish special issues on the most influential leaders, business titans, scientists, entertainers and heroes, culminating at the end of 1999 with an issue on the Person of the Century. Each will also look ahead at what...

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