Innovators: The Troublemakers Who Changed American Culture

Steve Jobs on Edwin Land

Innovators: The Troublemakers Who Changed American Culture

“You know, Dr. Edwin Land was a troublemaker. He dropped out of Harvard and founded Polaroid. Not only was he one of the great inventors of our time but, more important, he saw the intersection of art and science and business and built an organization to reflect that. Polaroid did that for some years, but eventually Dr. Land, one of those brilliant troublemakers, was asked to leave his own company – which is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard of.”   Steve Jobs, Playboy Magazine, 1985

Edwin Land and Steve Jobs were both Troublemakers

Edwin Land and Steve Jobs were innovators who defied the norm.

Before Land had a research lab to invent the polarized film to filter glare from light, Edwin Land sneaked into the Columbia University research lab at night.

Similarly, Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College, but continued to attend classes without paying tuition.

Both Edwin Land and Steve Jobs defied their board of directors so aggressively that they both lost their jobs at companies they founded.

Hugh Hefner: Innovator and Troublemaker

Playboy Magazine was an interesting magazine for Steve Jobs to do an interview and discuss troublemakers.  Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy Magazine, was another of those troublemakers who changed American culture.  Challenging cultural norms, he made adult publications acceptable in mainstream entertainment media.  Marilyn Monroe appeared nude in the first issue published in December 1953.

A standing joke was for people to say that they read Playboy Magazine “from cover to cover.”  However, the statement is more fact than tongue-in-cheek humor.  Joseph Heller, Ian Fleming, Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut, Alfred Kazin, William F. Buckley, Jr., James Baldwin, Vladimir Nabokov, and Ernest Hemingway are some of the famous writers Playboy published.  The writers published in Hefner’s magazine were stylistically and culturally troublemakers and innovators themselves.