Steve Jobs Ranks as #2 Innovator of All Time Among Young Adults

Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs ranks as the number two greatest innovator of all time among young adults, trailing only Thomas Edison.

Lemelson-MIT Invention Index

The annual Lemelson-MIT Invention Index conducted the survey, aimed at young adults aged 16 to 25, and found that 24 percent of respondents labeled the late Mr. Jobs as the greatest innovator of all time. Mr. Edison, inventor or influencer of many modern day technologies that society takes for granted, safely took first place with 52 percent.

The results were surprising to the Lemelson-MIT researchers, as the survey was aimed only at young adults in the United States. This demographic is highly influenced by technologies and consumer electronics provided by Apple and has been subjected to much lauding of Mr. Jobs by the media, especially since his death. It is therefore reassuring that, despite modern day coverage, young adults still have a grasp on history. Perhaps the only concerning thing about this list is the inclusion of someone like Mark Zuckerberg over Nikola Tesla. 

SmartPlanet identified some other interesting results from the survey: 40 percent said they couldn’t imagine their lives without constant technological development, such as smartphones and tablets, while 45 percent felt that such a future was grim due to their estimation that schools don’t currently provide enough attention to innovation. Even more troubling was that 60 percent stated that they would not pursue an education or career in science, technology, engineering or math.

There were some positive results, however, with 80 percent willing to take advantage of activities and training outside of the classroom intended to help them become more inventive and creative. Further, 58 percent wanted even more, expressing interest in hands-on programs and co-ops in which young creatives can “shadow” working professionals.

The results of the survey will likely draw criticism from a community still coming to terms on Mr. Jobs’s life. While many praise him as the greatest modern-day inventor, others argue that his genius resulted more from marketing and “tweaking” and that he is often credited for creations that were the work of others. Regardless, his is inextricably linked with technological innovation and, at least in the views of young adults, he sits with fine company in annals of history.