Last night I finally got round to watching a documentary about Steve Jobs. The guy was a genius.
But the film made a claim, that he was the most influential technologist of the last century. Really? I think that’s a bold claim, and when I think about it, I am not sure its true.
Let’s think about some of the candidates, and more importantly, as you think of each individual, imagine them looking cool in designer clothes and able to speak with panache and market themselves and their products with a deep understanding of the market.
Steve Jobs: Supremely able to leverage existing technologies (think the mouse/xerox) and see just around the curve to apply them in new contexts. More than any other, joined together the worlds of design and technology.
Bill Gates: So we had the personal PC, but it wasn’t remotely useful until Microsoft made it so with it’s software. Without Gates, computers would not have made it out of dusty universities.
Shiva Ayyadurai: Arguably invented email. I bet you have an email account, yes? Weren’t expecting that one were you?
Linus Torvalds: Popularized open source software, something that powers most of the web and a good chunk of hardware devices we use every day. And did it for altruism rather than dollars (cough, Jobs and Gates, cough). Sorry Stallman, you don’t make the cut here.
Page/Brin: Changed the way we consume information, and created a generation of content creators.
Zuckerberg: One billion can’t be wrong.
Who (or whose products) do you think most influenced your life?