Is Steve Jobs the 2nd Greatest Innovator of All Time?

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Is Steve Jobs the 2nd Greatest Innovator of All Time?

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A poll suggests the Apple CEO is second only to Thomas Edison.

Apple has made some great products. The personal computer is a better machine due to some of what happened on Steve Jobs' watch. But to call him an innovator is just wrong, at least to me. He invented nothing. Steve Wozniak was the technology guy behind much of what Apple did in the 80s, while Jobs was the leader and businessman. When an MIT poll asked 18-25 year olds who the greatest innovator of all time was, the majority (52 percent) blessedly chose Thomas Edison, the man who invented the light bulb and the phonograph, among many others. Still, 24 percent of you young whippersnappers needs to get a slap to the face for even putting Steve Jobs on the list.

Oddly enough, the designer of the survey thinks Jobs should have won, or at least there should be some modern people other than Jobs and Facebook inventor Mark Zuckerberg on the list. "Here we have this innovation role model who has changed the way we live and yet young people still go back to Thomas Edison," said Leigh Estabrooks who led the Lemelson-MIT Program. "While he did great and wonderful things, most of his work was in the 1880s."

She says this as if the passage of time makes Edison's contributions to society less important, but at least her heart is in the right place. Estabrooks is concerned with these results because she wants to foster a spirit of innovation in America's schools, something she sees as lacking.

"The sooner we can share with kids the things they can do with science, technology, engineering and math, the better off we'll be," she said. "It is awfully hard to catch up with the math once you're in high school and almost impossible once you're in college. And it is hard. Therefore mentors can help by encouraging students to stick with it."

That's a noble goal, but I don't think you need to tout Steve Jobs to make it a reality. He was a great CEO, don't get me wrong, a great leader, but he didn't invent anything. Jobs organized people to invent things for him, which is not exactly what you want to use as an example to young people to encourage them to be innovators themselves.

Source: MSNBC

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I thought Thomas Edison copied everyone's ideas. Damn it school education and internet clashing!

EDIT:I remember what the book I read was going on about now. I don't think it's fair to name someone as the greatest innovator since many times in history two or more people are working on the same idea near the same time.

Steve Jobs was about as 'innovate' as Zynga.

OK, that's just depressing. The winner is a thief who stole everything from Tesla and invented the goddamned electric chair as a marketing device. If this is for the greatest innovator of all time, why not Alan Turing or Tim Berners-Lee? I'd say what they did ranks far, far higher than making an overpriced mp3 player.

BlackStar42:
OK, that's just depressing. The winner is a thief who stole everything from Tesla and invented the goddamned electric chair as a marketing device. If this is for the greatest innovator of all time, why not Alan Turing or Tim Berners-Lee? I'd say what they did ranks far, far higher than making an overpriced mp3 player.

I absolutely agree with you, there are far, far, more deserving people on should be on that list.

But alas, America.

Obviously history has taken a serious back seat since I went to school. This list is just shocking.

Why is Amelia Earhart on this list?

"Most of his work is from the 1880s"

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I wonder when I'll be able to catch up to Edisons 1950's inventions.

I'm so glad I had already lost my faith in humanity otherwise this pole would have made me shoot myself/someone. Steve Jobs was a fantastic businessman but nowhere close to number 2 innovator.

If people taught history properly, Edison wouldn't even be on that list, the man was a patent troll and a thug.

Also, a list of innovators that does not include Da Vinci (or Tesla?!?). I despair!

Mark Zuckerberg was on the list, it is all invalid now.

fix-the-spade:
If people taught history properly, Edison wouldn't even be on that list, the man was a patent troll and a thug.

Also, a list of innovators that does not include Da Vinci (or Tesla?!?). I despair!

Amen man. Tesla and Da Vinci were leagues ahead of their competitors. But alas, genius is seldom understood in it's own time. Tesla's ideas are still relevant even today. Engineers and scientist periodically go through his notebooks looking for ideas.

fix-the-spade:
If people taught history properly, Edison wouldn't even be on that list, the man was a patent troll and a thug.

Also, a list of innovators that does not include Da Vinci (or Tesla?!?). I despair!

I thought very much the same where the hell is Da Vinci?

Steve jobs did little compared to Tesla... speaking of that why isn't Tesla #2 or #1? He contributed a lot but guess it's more a popularity contest.

fix-the-spade:
If people taught history properly, Edison wouldn't even be on that list, the man was a patent troll and a thug.

Also, a list of innovators that does not include Da Vinci (or Tesla?!?). I despair!

I don't think Da Vinci would count. To be an innovator you have to have the drive to see things through (never mind checking if they actually work) and he didn't do that. He was the Worlds Greatest Dreamer and also the World Greatest Procrastinator who was so good at it, that people kept mistaking his procrastinations for work and yet he even procrastinated with his procrastinations.

I'm iffy about Edison, I'm aware that he was a bit of a businessman and a lot of his 'inventions' essentially stem from him being better at saying they were his than anyone else, but I can't think of more suitable products and whoever was responsible he was good at seeing them come to the market. Joseph Swan may have invented the lightbulb, but that was his only big thing and the same can't be said for Edison.

James Watt and Humphry Davy should have been on that list

Khanaris:
Why is Amelia Earhart on this list?

I was wondering the same as well. Is it because of her disappearance we now have the Bermuda Triangle myth? I don't know if that even started with her! *goes off to wikipedia*

As someone who just spent all night trying to fix his mother's iPhone, I call absolute and utter bullshit.

I think Al Gore should be #1 for inventing the internet.

Where the hell is Da Vinci and Tesla damnit!? Why is Amelia Earhart there? Why is Zuckerberg or Jobs there as well as if they did anything other then act as the face of their company. And why the hell should time be a problem when dealing with something such as 'innovator of all time.'

Please. someone teach these kids what innovation means.

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This is literally the first and only thing that went through my head when I saw the article title...

This is the second:

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The results of this poll literally sickened me.

Tim-Berners Lee. Henry Ford. Louis Pasteur, for goodness sakes.

Amelia Earhart? Seriously? What did she innovate? I mean hell, it's not even like she was the first woman to fly.. she was the 16th woman to receive her pilot's licence.

Where did this survey find these young adults? Remedial schools?

WAIT A SECOND! Wait, wait, wait, Thomas Edison? Thomas Motherf***ing Edison, still has first God**** place? Still? This kills the importance of Jobs position. Seriously, this is like comparing Gandhi to God**** Stalin. Jobs was this era's Tesla, not Edison, you d*** ****ing idiots.

Greg Tito:

That's a noble goal, but I don't think you need to tout Steve Jobs to make it a reality. He was a great CEO, don't get me wrong, a great leader, but he didn't invent anything. Jobs organized people to invent things for him, which is not exactly what you want to use as an example to young people to encourage them to be innovators themselves.

Then appreciate the criteria difference between an inventor and an innovator. MIT's own Michael Schrage puts it like this:

"invention has nothing to do with commercial success - whereas innovation has everything to do with it"

A lot of folks are bemoning the fact this survey seems to indicate people think Steve Jobs invented lots of things (Even Roach's article is clumsy in its use of the two terms). Calm down, by MIT's criteria, it's more akin to saying "he had a lot of business savvy" than "he made lots of things".

For example: Henry Ford, Innovator. Da Vinci, Inventor.

Let me say it this way... that list is complete bullshit.

The one, most important innovator for today's technology is Nikola Telsa. Ya know, the one who "invented" electricity? The one who made the foundation for computers, wireless electricity and signal transmission? The one who turned the night into day?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikola_Tesla
He made a light bulb that wouldn't fail unless you destroy it with force.
Unlike those of Thomas Edison which worked for several hours at best.

Just follow that damn link and read about this genius. He was far before his time and Edison was a monkey compared to him.

Secondly, Steve Jobs is as innovative as an ape.
He didn't innovate anything. He took existing technology, packed it into white (sometimes black) shiny plastic and sold it for 3 times the worth of the technology.

Mark Zuckerberg? Really? Because social networks didn't exist before him?

Thomas Edison as first? don't make me laugh. That guy bought half the stuff as patents and people consider him an innovator. He didn't create nor think of anything. He bought patents. Well, he did innovate, but not even close to what he gets credit for.

What the fuck is Amelia Earhart doing on that list?

Nope. Nick Tesla.

Why does Tesla get no love? His ideas and inventions were way ahead of their time and better than anything Edison made in his life.

VOTE TESLA!

BlackStar42:
OK, that's just depressing. The winner is a thief who stole everything from Tesla and invented the goddamned electric chair as a marketing device. If this is for the greatest innovator of all time, why not Alan Turing or Tim Berners-Lee? I'd say what they did ranks far, far higher than making an overpriced mp3 player.

Agreed. Edison was an absolute scumbag and intellectual thief. Practically everything he 'invented' was stolen or copied from someone else. I suppose you could call him an innovator on how inventive he was in crushing any competition, which was usually superior to his own stuff anyway. I studied early music recordings for a project a couple of years ago, and it amazed me how long Edison held on with his phonographs, long after the superior record players were produced.

As for more deserving winners, there are too many to mention. Turing's definitely on there, though. I'd also say Frank Whittle for the invention of the jet engine.

First place goes to the patent troll who spent his life sabotaging Tesla's work and trying to convince the public A.C. is dangerous! Second place goes to a marketing man!

Oh, US.

Bill Gates innovated more than Steve Jobs.

And he's not even on a good top 100.

The problem with these polls, and with polls in general, is that the open endedness allows them to be riddled with what education you can pull out on what day.

What about John Logie Baird? Christopher Cockerell? Hero of Alexandria? Edwin Land? Jerome Lemelson? Adam Smith? Achimedes? Al Gore? Gerry Anderson? Ellen Ochoa? Robert Oppenheimer?

Before you even mention Charles Babbage and Alan Turing.

Karl Benz, Clarence Birdseye, Louis Braille, Louis Pasteur...

Quick Quiz: Who's the second most prolific patenter after Edison? (They're mentioned above)

Thomas Edison was a crank and completely screwed over Tesla, a much better man who would have made the world a much better place.

Tesla wanted to give everyone FREE energy. Edison wanted to charge for it, so he smeared the shit out of Tesla's name. This isn't even touching on all the ideas Tesla had, and could've probably done had he not been screwed by Edison.

Fuck Edison.

Dexter111:

This is the second:

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This is what I thought of:

Also, to the creator of the survey, if you don't want people to bring up innovators from the past, say "best modern innovator" and not "best innovator of ALL TIME".

It's deplorable that Tesla isn't on that list.

I came here to Speak my mind, but everyone else spoke the words for me. That is not a list of innovators, that is a list of pop figures and people who happened to get to the patent office first.

Well, I'm already on the Telsa bandwagon. So there's that.

Slightly more on topic: Zuckerberg? Really?

:(

All this talk about Edison screwing over Tesla reminds me of this:

Considering that Nikola Tesla isn't even on that list I'll call it a hack job and a shame. The most well know doesn't not equal best.

Considering that statistically a large portion of that 16-25 year age group can't find the US on a map I don't consider them qualified to say who is the greatest inventor.

Edit* Lets not forget George Washington Carver (he fucking made nitroglycerin from peanuts) or Benjamin Franklin, or Leonardo da Vinci, or Jonas Salk (the man made the first polio vaccine and chose not to patent is for millions of dollars because helping people was more important.

Greg Tito:
Jobs organized people to invent things for him, which is not exactly what you want to use as an example to young people to encourage them to be innovators themselves.

You can argue that even that barely happened. Jobs always bought up cutting edge tech, let his engineering departement polish it up and put it into a flashy package which appealed to customers. Hence why I almost agree with this:

Tanis:
Steve Jobs was about as 'innovate' as Zynga.

But this just shows how well Apple's marketing works, how well it deludes people and why I hate the company and it's products. They work just fine, but they have this filthy taint about them thanks to things like this survey.

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