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In 1912, as the HMS Titanic was going down, Sarnoff was involved with using early radio equipment to transmit information about the ship’s demise. (Hulton-Deutsch Collection / Corbis)

Before Steve Jobs: 5 Corporate Innovators who Shaped Our World

The former head of Apple comes from a long line of American innovators who changed society

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs
(Monica M. Davey / epa / Corbis)
Editor's Note: Steve Jobs died on October 5, 2011 due to complications from pancreatic cancer. This story has been edited to reflect the recent news. When Steve Jobs stepped down as CEO from Apple, he did so as one of the most remarkable innovators of our time. From the personal computer to the iPod to the iPhone, he has played a significant role in shaping devices that wed impressive functionality with superior design, redefining what we imagine technology can do in our lives.

“To me, Jobs is best known for really sensing the pulse of what was going to be cool, and take it to the next level of the use of technology in society in technology,” says David Allison, a curator at the American History Museum who specializes in information technology. “It’s not so much satisfying demand, it’s creating demand for stuff that you didn't even think you wanted.”

Jobs is one of the latest in a series of innovators in American history who have remade the technological landscape through expertise and imagination.

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