Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Walt Disney: A Comparison

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By William Endo | October 7, 2011 7:47 PM EST

Many have said that Steve Jobs is the equivalent of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Walt Disney for our generation. All these men have exerted control on every facet of their company. What they are more famous for is that they have built the future.

Invention

Steve Jobs holds with him 388 US patents, mostly all on electronic devices and the rest for software and packaging. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, direct current-generation, fluoroscopy, and the phonograph. Henry Ford invented the assembly line and the standard interchangeable parts. Walt Disney invented the multi-plane camera. While each man can't claim to be the father or the originator of the industry they are on, they have a claim on how they changed their respective industries forever.

Management Style

These men have one thing in common with their management style. They are controlling and very protective of their work. While Steve Jobs has final say on every aspect of every Apple product, the same goes to Henry Ford, Walt Disney and Thomas Edison. Henry Ford even made the statement "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black." Walt Disney is known to be very protective of the company reputation even firing employees to the slightest transgression of company policies or property.

Innovation

In their respective industry, all of them have started a revolution which spread to everyone affecting how we live our lives today. Steve Jobs brought computing to the mainstream by designing the GUI we use in computers, introducing the mouse and much later the iPad and iPhone. Thomas Edison brought electricity and appliances to every home. Henry Ford brought automobiles from being exclusive to the rich to the common man with the assembly line. Walt Disney brought his imagination to life and shared them to every dreamer. Please note that three of these men are not actually the inventors of what made them famous but all of them have something in common. Like Thomas Edison, they have a bright idea.

Legacy

Steve Jobs brought modern computing to the public. Twice. His ideas will inspire others and mostly Apple for years to come. He is more like the reverse Henry Ford rather than being like Thomas Edison or Walt Disney. While Henry Ford brought the automobile to the common man, Steve Jobs didn't bring computing to the masses as his products can be classified as luxury items. But brought it to many he did for a price.Thomas Edison's legacy besides from great ideas is how to wage a patent war and how to treat a competitor which would be emulated by corporations for decades after he is gone. Walt Disney has left the world his imagination and Mickey Mouse.

Well-known Achievements

Steve Jobs best achievement is the iOS, iPhone and iPad which he delivered after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He has brought design and technology together. If the PC and Windows are made for computer enthusiasts and people who know what they are doing, the Mac, iPhone and iPad are for the common people who needs an easier device to master. Thomas Edison will be forever be known for his light bulb which might not our world now but it did show the way. Walt Disney's greatest achievement like Steve Job's was completed before his death, Disneyland. Henry Ford's assembly line modernized the industrial age and with that brought in demand for better roads creating more jobs than what he can provide in his company.

Apple, Ford Motors, General Electric and Disney. Iconic companies with iconic founders and they have changed the world. This is what they have in common. The world awaits the next person to join their ranks. All they had is a great idea and they acted upon it.

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