The cliché: "The twentieth century’s Thomas Edison has stepped from the stage with the resignation" says The New Yorker's Ken Auletta. Who could Auletta be talking about but the most newsworthy man of the hour, departing Apple CEO Steve Jobs? Indeed, the internet is abuzz with pseudo-obituaries for Jobs, who announced his resignation yesterday. But more than that, it is abuzz with Auletta-like comparisons to that other famed inventor Thomas Edison Therese Poletti of The Wall Street Journal confirms the trend: "Now compared by many pundits to American business legends such as Thomas Edison..." So does The Economist: "Apple's former boss 'the Thomas Edison of this century'..." they write.
Where it's from: Bloggers and commentators began occasionally floating the comparison between the two innovators several years ago, about when it became clear that Jobs would be more than a one- or two-hit wonder with Pixar, the Mac computer, the iPod, and later the iPad. But the comparison really took hold in the media when Jobs announced he would take a leave of absence for his health back in January. That's about when people started really reflecting on a legacy that seemed to be drawing to a close. "The fact is that the best points of comparison with Jobs may not be Bill Gates and Jack Welch so much as Thomas Edison and Henry Ford," wrote Bloomberg Businessweek's Rich Jaroslovsky at the time.