Who is the most influential tech innovator of all time? Here is the case for each of the top six contenders.
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I need the help of knowledgeable technophiles -- including Alexis Madrigal -- to answer two questions I have been raising in dinner table conversations since the death of Steve Jobs. The first: Of the great innovators/entrepreneurs of the computer/Internet age, who has had the greatest impact on society in the last 30 years -- Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Sergei Brin/Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos or "other?" This is a descriptive question -- who has changed society the most - regardless of one's personal views about Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Google or Amazon, and the change each has wrought.
A second, different question is which of these great innovators/entrepreneurs has made the greatest contribution to society. This is a question about the values of the person answering: in his/her view, which of the legends has done the most to make society a better place.
Both the "impact" and "contribution" questions, as we discuss them around the dinner table, are open-ended. The people answering can define what those key concepts mean in any way they see fit -- indeed, one aspect of the interesting conversation is defining "impact" and "contribution."