October 6, 2011

Who has had as much impact on business and our lives as Steve Jobs?

"You'd probably have to go back to Henry Ford..."


Ron said...

Henry Kaiser.

Ron said...

Howard Hughes.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Philo Farnsworth, the inventor of the television set. Nothing before or since has done more to destroy public socializing and community cohesion.

Russ said...

Or maybe Bill Gates?

Or Jack Kilby and Richard Noyse? (inventors of the integrated circuit)

Or John Bardeen, William Shockley, and Walter Brattain? (inventors of the transistor)

Then Henry Ford ;)

Steve Jobs was a great visionary, particularly in taking ideas and polishing them to make them more user friendly, but in terms of hardcore technical innovation? Not so much.

Curious George said...

Bill Gates. The Google dudes. Not even close.

And to test...what percentage of people have never owned or used a Apple product (like me) versus my choice.

Scott M said...

Definitely Bill Gates. Or maybe Kevin Bacon...as he seems to be involved in everyone's lives somehow.

TWM said...

There are dozens of majors, some of who are listed here. And that's without even talkinga about major medical advances. Jobs just made it cool by sticking an lower-cased "i" in front of it.

edutcher said...

Agree on Gates (and Ballmer).

Jobs' impact was mostly through the 'i' devices.

The Mac and Apple computers were niche devices.

A few others:

The guys who invented ENIAC, Edison, Bell, Otis (how many floors do you want to walk up?), Gutenberg...

Toshtu said...

I owe my career to Steve Jobs. I love Macs and Macs love me.

DADvocate said...

Last night Ed Schultz was raving about how Jobs made the OWS protest where he was broadcasting from possible.

Sheepman said...

Arguably, Ray Kroc and Sam Walton. Though not as positive of an impact as Jobs.

rhhardin said...

I was spending all my spare time on computers in 1963.

PoNyman said...

Holy crap. These various sources of ejaculatory praise is getting annoying.

Ron said...

Raymond Loewy is more significant as a designer alone.

DADvocate said...



Wilbur and Orville Wright

Jobs didn't really invent, he innovated and applied. Gates popularized the PC much more than Joba.

Scott M said...

Sid Meier. Nobody has changed so many worlds so many times in so many lives. Nobody.

AJ Lynch said...

I agree with Jeff and would say Philo Fransworth, the TV inventor, is No. 1.

Marconi, for radio work, is above Jobs too.

AJ Lynch said...

Of course, Joe Biden said the govt had a role in every great invention so let's not forget to say thanks to the behind the scenes federal bureaucrat!

aronamos said...

Willis Haviland Carrier. Without him there'd be no Sunbelt.

Pastafarian said...

I don't think you can compare one designer or engineer or inventor to another, qualitatively, in this way.

We see farther only because we stand on the shoulders of giants, I think the saying goes.

But Jobs contributed significantly to nearly all of our lives in a real, tangible way, and as an engineer, it's nice to see another engineer honored and respected for that contribution.

Bob Ellison said...

OK, this is getting kinda stupid. How about Bill Gates? Jack Welch? Andy Grove? Norman Borlaug, for goodness sake? FDR?

Jobs was a great marketeer. Stop with the hagiography.

Scott M said...

I have to agree with all the Jobs-worship. I mean, just look at his churches. Very clean, very white, very sublime indie music constantly playing in the background and nothing in stock to keep you coming back for worship again and again.

MaxTruth said...

Jeff Bezos may very well equal Jobs. Amazon, Kindle, Blue Origin.

Elon Musk - Paypal, SpaceX, SolarCity, Tesla Motors.

I'm sure there are many Steve Jobs out there we just don't know about.

Scott M said...

I'm sure there are many Steve Jobs out there we just don't know about.

According to a growing chorus of CEO's, the current regulatory environment certainly doesn't encourage them.

Psychedelic George said...

Norman Borlaug.

Revolutionized agriculture.

Saved 1,000,000,000 lives.

edutcher said...

DADvocate said...

Jobs didn't really invent, he innovated and applied. Gates popularized the PC much more than Jobs.

Gates made it more accessible rather than popularized it. DOS and Windows were easy to use.

The early Macs were a pain.

(The Blonde will give you chapter and verse...)

ark said...

Ken Thompson, originator of the Unix operating system, on which MacOS is based, and from which Windows borrowed major architectural ideas.

He's not a marketing guy, so most people haven't heard of him; but it's hard to use any electronic product with digital storage without in some way using ideas that he introduced to the world.

Curious George said...

Ron Popeil

Jeff with one 'f' said...

I still say Philo. Before tv people left their houses every night to socialize- playings cards, go dancing, take in movies and shows. Downtowns were alive with people every night of the week.

The boob tube played a huge part in destroying that culture and the hearts of most cities in the US.

chuckR said...

No impact at all on my business. Neither of my two primary software codes (both left brain oriented) even run on Apple products.
Nonetheless, I think his contribution to, and insistence upon, clean and elegant design in computer and telecom products is substantial.
Oh, and Pixar. No real impact, but damned enjoyable stuff.

Nonapod said...

He's been mentioned a couple times here already but I'd like to put in another vote for Norman Borlaug. His work has probably directly saved and improved more lives than almost anybody else in human history. And the funny thing is, most people have no idea who he was.

Paddy O said...

The guy or lady who invented cubicle dividers...

Or cell phone service/Bluetooth...

Ronald Reagan...

What's curious to me is that I have zero Apple made products in my home or on my computer.

Is What White People Like site still around, because Steve Jobs should be at the top of that list.

At the same time, the comparison with Ford is somewhat apt. Ford didn't invent the car, but he made it very popular. At the same time, Ford made it popular by pricing it in a way that the great masses could afford.

Apple went the other direction, playing off the consumerism machismo of our present era, getting people to feel they needed what they didn't actually really have any need for. All this while securing even further a self-satisfying perception of uniqueness. It's corporate psy-ops at its finest.

John Lynch said...

Be a capitalist for the liberal elite and they will love you.

Bill Gates is trying to cure malaria and he won't get this treatment.

Scott M said...

Thomas Crapper. Nobody has moved more. Nobody.

Paddy O said...

I'll throw in another vote for Bezos.

He has absolutely revolutionized my research and studies by making obscure products, especially books, easily obtained. Bezos did for books what Jobs did for music, but I'd argue that books and research and related materials have a much broader influence in wider society .

hawkeyedjb said...

Whoever invented the self-serve gas pump ought to get a Nobel prize. IMHO.

(Maybe they run on the Mac OS, for all I know)

Paddy O said...

Dr. Hans von Ohain and Sir Frank Whittle.

MadisonMan said...

iPads keep moving in one direction

A genuflection to Steven Jobs


Praise the maker of the Apple Store

(speed up the app, speed up the app boy!)

Hallelujah! Well, I'll take her

Sure amazing how people always want more.

John Scott said...

Mike Milken. Those junk bonds raised the money needed to make those start-up companies in the 80s possible.

lgv said...

That's just silly. As noted, not everyone has been touched by an Apple product.

One could start with Bill Gates, but that would also be missing the point.

Don Estridge, who was later shuffled into oblivion and died on and ill-fated Delta crash in Dallas.

He, along with Dr. Mark Dean, changed the computing world forever. It was Estridge that made the fateful decision for the PC to be of open architecture. This was far more important than the selection of Micosoft as a supplier. If not for the IBM PC....

BJM said...

"You'd probably have to go back to Henry Ford..."

The spousal unit and I were discussing this last night.

Jobs like Ford created a product that changed their respective industries. They didn't invent the automobile or the computer, but they had the vision to market, embellish and innovate within their industries to create an iconic product that Americans clamoured to buy.

Ford's "Model A" changed everything, not only in the automotive industry but every aspect of life as Americans took to the roads.

Apple's computers while innovative and superbly designed were on the leading edge PC evolution and because of the Job's obsession with closed systems, still have a relatively small market share.

Jobs's "Model A" was the iPod & iTunes business model. It not only changed the music industry but how we think of listening to, selling and buying music and Apple still owns 90% of market share.

Both companies continued to innovate through good and bad balance sheets.

As Jobs was changing Apple's bottom line and the PC world with the Macintosh, Ford released the aerodynamic "bar of soap" Taurus models and changed the automotive industry again at a time when it was almost DOA in the face of Japanese competition.

I'd also speculate that the iPhone was to Apple as the world car platform was to Ford in the mid-90's in that it allowed the company to expand beyond the American market while combining their known strengths.

Fred Smith, the founder of Fedex is another visionary who took a tiny package courier market and created an iconic nationwide express delivery industry where there was none.

Russ said...

I'm going to disagree that the iPod changed the music industry or how we listen to music in any appreciable way.

There were many products before the iPod that did exactly what it did. The mp3/digital music market was growing and exploding. All Apple did was market well, and consolidate the US market with a good design and a resonating marketing campaign.

iTunes is a little closer, but again, there were other players (mostly Napster and stealing music through other internet means) that changed the music industry. iTunes, if anything, by legitimizing single sales of digital music, "saved" the old system for a few more years.

The iPhone ecosystem (not the phone itself, though it was a well crafted and slick device), particularly the App store, is by far the largest disruptive event that Apple came up with.

Scott M said...

I had been an iPod user since the beginning and a lot of the people I knew in broadcasting (radio) were as well...mostly because we got that kind of stuff for free. iTunes is what made it what it was though.

I have to admit that I've stopped using iTunes completely now, though, and didn't bother to move everything over when I upgraded from Vista to Windows 7-64.

For my time and money, Rhapsody is a far better solution for music and comedy. Whatever you want, right at your fingertips. It's especially good for that musical itch you want to scratch, but only probably listen to once every five years or so...like "Dead Man's Party" by Oingo Boingo yesterday.

BJM said...


The early Macs were a pain.

(The Blonde will give you chapter and verse...)

Yep...everyone has fogotten the G3 power macs and the nightmare that was OS9.

That's when I bailed on Apple.

CyndiF said...

+1 for John Bardeen (and Shockley and Brattain). None of this is possible without the transistor.

RJ said...

Steve Jobs was a great visionary, particularly in taking ideas and polishing them to make them more user friendly, but in terms of hardcore technical innovation? Not so much.

Straw man created and knocked down in a couple of sentences.

BJM said...


Okay, but 16 billion iTune downloads is a pretty good indicator that their business model changed the music business as no other downloader/device has. Plus his obsession with closed systems and DRM brought music giants such as Sony on board at time when they were very resistant to the download business.

Try explaining your little device that plays music to someone who hasn't used one as a MP3 player...it means zip. Say it's like an iPod and they say "Ahhh..yes, music player".

Amazon has done the same in it's market niche. Tell some one you've got a "Nook" reader and you get a blank stare.

I personally dislike Apple's closed systems and use Rhapsody, a Sansa player and a Kindle(yes,I pre-ordered a Fire).

However I admire Jobs's business model, when he went after a market share he usually won...and had he opened the mac os I might be typing this on a Mac and not a PC.

geokstr said...

If the question is "who has had as much impact on business and our lives...?", and we disregard the direction of the impact - I nominate Obama.

He's done more, in far less time, to stifle the economy and stall any recovery since one of those leftist icons he's so often compared to - FDR. Only now the federal and state goverments control and consume so much of the private sector that there is little room left for it to succeed.

Robert Cook said...

"(Obama's) done more, in far less time, to stifle the economy and stall any recovery since one of those leftist icons he's so often compared to - FDR."


So few words, so much stupid.

xnar said...

Impact on business....

Barack Obama.

You forgot to say "Positive" impact.

Matt Johnston said...

Impact on business? Bill Gates, far and away, more of an impact that Jobs. But that is not a slight, Jobs and Apple were looking at people's lives as an integrated whole, work, family, friends, etc. I don't think they anticipated how much it might separate us physically from each other. But then again, there are unintended consequences in everything.

SWBarns said...

1) Norman Borlaug
2) Alexander Fleming
3) Nicola Tesla
4) Thomas Edison
5) Leo Bakeland
6) Orville and Wilbur Wright
7) Henry Ford
8) Henry Kaiser
9) Philo Fransworth
10)Clarence Birdseye
11) Gordon Gould
12) Robert K. Jarvik.
13) Willis Carrier
14) John Bardeen, William Shockley, and Walter Brattain
15) Andy Grove
16) Don Estridge
17) Enrico Fermi
18) Bill Gates
19) Tim Berners-Lee
20) Steve Jobs

Barry Dauphin said...

Algore invented the Internet

blake said...

I think you guys are missing the point.

By "our lives", they're talking about media people.

Apple captured, and managed to keep, media and artistic types way out of proportion to the rest of the word.