“How many entrepreneurs have there been in the history of the world?” asks Philipp Harper as he leads off an article in the Business section of MSNBC’s Web site. “Millions, certainly, probably even billions.” He then proceeds, “with tongue occasionally in cheek,” to compile his list of the ten greatest entrepreneurs in history, tossing Apple Computer co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak into the mix. Proving that he really means “in history,” however, his number one pick is King Croesus, ruler of the kingdom of Lydia during the sixth century B.C. and minter of the world’s first currency.
Harper follows that up with Pope Sixtus IV, the first pope to license brothels and the seller of “services” that supposedly guaranteed relatives of the newly deceased that their loved ones would spend as little time in Purgatory as possible. He then moves on to more recent history, filling his list with Benjamin Franklin, circus huckster P.T. Barnum, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, mobster and Las Vegas visionary Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc and H. Ross Perot, 1992 independent Presidential candidate and founder of Electronic Data Systems.
The final slot goes to Jobs and Wozniak, “the first to democratize computing by creating a machine whose use was so wonderfully intuitive that even technophobes embraced it.” Harper acknowledges that Bill Gates and Paul Allen were also “two other notable entrepreneurs,” but says that the pair “developed Windows to ape its rival’s ease of use.” Unfortunately, the writer seems to confuse the original Apple family of computers with the Mac, recalling Ridley Scott’s 1984 ad and “the elegance of Wozniak’s operating system” in the same sentence but leaving out Mac GUI creator Jef Raskin.