When doing the research on the multi-touch patent, the number of inventors -- 25 -- was strikingly large, particularly given the relatively small number (20) of claims. First on the list was Jobs. It's fairly unusual for the CEO of a good-sized corporation to be listed as an inventor on a patent, because generally the head of the company has many other things more pressing. Depending on whom you ask, Jobs has been known as a "hands-on" or "micro-managing" leader, so it's not inconceivable that he might be involved in the look and feel design of devices. Furthermore, a patent can be challenged if the list of inventors is inaccurate, so placing Jobs onto the list would be dangerous if he had no involvement.
However, this raises an important question. People have debated the ultimate importance of Jobs to Apple and how well the company could continue without him. I, for one, have agreed that were he actually indispensible, that alone would be evidence of the company's mismanagement, and that is hardly what I'd expect.
Instead of considering Jobs as the touchy-feely visionary who demands perfection, consider him as more deeply involved in invention and product development than perhaps any other CEO. I did some research on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office databases, searching for patents that listed Apple as an assignee and Jobs as included among the inventors. Here, by decade, are the number of patents that Apple received and the number naming Jobs as an inventor:
|Decade||Apple Patents||Jobs Patents|