Why Jobs Is No Edison

Vaclav Smil

It takes nothing away from Steve Jobs to say he is no Thomas Edison. You only need to understand what Edison accomplished.

Superlatives about Steven Jobs’s tenure as the head of Apple reached new heights once he announced his retirement in August 2011. Those smitten by the sleek Apple products that Jobs liked to introduce in much-anticipated stage presentations have rarely seen them as anything but revolutionary, and claimed that they repeatedly changed not only the expectations of what modern electronics can deliver but our lives.

The encomiums reached their peak with Ken Auletta’s homage in The New Yorker:

The twentieth century’s Thomas Edison has stepped from the stage … the scope of the technologies that sprang from or were transformed by Jobs’s Apple laboratories—the Mac, the mouse, the laptop, Pixar, iTunes, iPod, iPhone, iPad—is awesome, as was that from Edison’s Menlo Park. And Jobs, like Edison, accomplished his imaginative feats without the crutch of survey research, of endless polls to tell him what people wanted.

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