Mike Lazaridis vs. Peter Robertson

Supremely useful low-tech wages battle against supremely useful high-tech

Mike Lazaridis

Why he’s famous: Putting e-mail on people’s cell phones via the BlackBerry.

Why he deserves to win: Along with co-CEO Jim Balsillie, Lazaridis has built Research in Motion into a tech powerhouse, putting Canada on the map in the wireless device business. Lazaridis has registered more than 30 patents and won dozens of awards for his innovations in software and wireless communications technology, including a 1999 Academy Award for RIM’s role in inventing a digital-barcode reader for film editing.

Peter Robertson

Why he’s famous: He’s the inventor of the Robertson screwdriver—you know, the square-shaped one in your toolbox.

Why he deserves to win: Before Robertson’s invention in 1908, we were stuck with the slip-prone flat bladed driver and slotted-head screw, a combo notorious for causing injuries. Later, when the cross-shaped Phillips screw and driver were invented, Consumer Reports magazine declared the Robertson superior because Phillips’ screws are easily stripped and degrade with wear. As writer Witold Rybcynski put it, “no matter how old, rusty, or painted over, a Robertson screw can always be unscrewed. [It’s] the biggest little invention of the 20th century.”

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Norman Bethune vs. Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best

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