[Walter Isaacson] Epub The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution read online

But the main lesson to draw from the birth of computers is that innovation is usually a group effort involving collaboration between visionaries and engineers and that creativity comes from drawing on many sources Only in storybooks do inventions come like a thunderbolt or a lightbulb popping out of the head of a lone individual in a basement or garret or garage Walter Isaacson s The Innovators How a Group of Hackers Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution is an enjoyable and worthy study of an oftentimes overlooked history There were several things I appreciated about Isaacson s approach Echoing the uote above there is a consistent theme in this book about how nerdy talent was gathered to generate ideas and power innovation Hearing about the eccentricities of this nerdy talent was sometimes as interesting as the innovations themselves I also liked that Isaacson began with Ada Lovelace the daughter of Lord Byron and didn t ust drop her in the first chapter but found ways to show how her contributions are still relevant Finally there was nearly a whole chapter on Pong No way anybody could come up with a better game than that 375 stars The basic premise of this book is that innovators and inventors do not create new concepts solo They are almost always collaborators But there is not a surplus of collaboration described in this book This was a fun entertaining book to read In the beginning of the book the innovators were described in detail in historical order But as the chronology approached the present day less and less space was devoted to individual innovators and to the innovations I really enjoyed an earlier book by Isaacson Benjamin Franklin An American Life In that book I really was able to understand the man and his accomplishments However this book covers too much ground and ends up being less than satisfying I ended up understanding the life of the first personality covered in the book Ada Lovelace but not much else Perhaps if the author had not tried to cover every single person he considers to be an innovator and to go into depth about the most interesting biographies it might have been better This book is going to be huge since it functions not only as a history of the computer and the internet but as a treatise on innovation and collaboration I can imagine that it will be reuired reading for all kinds of people working in all varieties of business Unlike his bio of Steve Jobs which was important as immediate history but was also understandably rushed Isaacson s new book reads like a labor of love and is much better written focused than Jobs and is thought provoking on a lot of different levels I have already told a half dozen people I work with at a Fortune 500 financial services company that this book should be reuired reading when it comes out in OctoberRarely have a I read an ARC and felt so frustrated because I have to wait for the book to come out so there are other readers with whom I can discuss it Note added 23 Feb 2017 This seems to have a lot of likes but I want to make sure that people understand that my perspective is a bit specialized The book is lively and very interesting If you want to read a provocative and detailed story of innovation this is a great choice I think the full story reuires some extra reading which I note in the review The book has its limitations but it s still a good readRegrettably I can t give this a great reviewIn part it depends on what you want If you want a history of innovation from the point of view of the winners the people who created the technology we use today then this book might be for youBut I would strongly recommend that you read some other books Katie Hafner s When Wizards Stay Up Late John Markoff s What the Dormouse Said Steven Levy s HackersIsaacson hits all of the main highlights of the development of digital technology from Ada Lovelace to Google In terms of new contributions his treatment of Lovelace is much broader than what one normally gets and he s very good on the women who worked as programmers for Eniac and the like That s good Additionally there is new interview material that provides details that I haven t seen elsewhere For instance the book notes that both parents of Tim Berners Lee inventor of the web were computer programmers and that TBL was an electronics nerd as a kid The uotes from people like the founders of Google are a bit looser than usual I like thatYet there are three big problems here1 First off this is a history of the victors and its extremely presentist in that it privileges things that are our technology today Thus people like Jef Raskin and Ted Nelson are essentially buried Yes there are a few words on Nelson but he deserves like 10 pages and Raskin gets one mention Raskin was the true originator of the Mac he deserves way credit Another example Gopher The Gopher protocol which predates the web was extremely important and arguably would have been useful for certain kinds of information browsing Yet another predates the web was extremely important and arguably would have been useful for certain kinds of information browsing Yet another that is scanted as in so many histories that involve computer mediated communication is the depth of social sharing on time sharing systems it was a big deal and seems to be ust outside the view of most historians I think Isaacson s canvas is large and this would have complicated his story2 The discussion of bidirectional information transfer is very weak It comes up on p 300 with regard to Lee Felsenstein and the free speech movement People like Felsenstein thought computer networks would change society because they might provide for broadcast from the citizen Despite the advent of blogs twitter etc the dominant model has been publication as Isaacson rightly points out from his personal experience editing Time online 420 422 But I think Isaacson makes a big mistake to not talk at significantly greater length about how bidirectionality was lost in the early history of the network To be sure he does get into the blogging phenomenon but it is weak because so focused on a single individual Justin Hall Anyway the concern isn t even so much about individuals contributing content but the very structure of the Internet and the policing of uploads for example your broadband provider gives you a lot less data uota for upload than download Obviously the missing figure here is Nicholas Negroponte who long advocated for true bidirectionally for communication his key case was always video out of the home so grandparents could easily Send Movies To Their Kids A Similar movies to their kids A similar to the lack of spadework to uncover the deeper interest in bidirectionally is the discussion of how MosaicNetscape never had a decent editor that might provide for easily composing web pages from the browser see p 418 This wasn t ust an issue for the Berners Lee It was a howl coming from the early adopters of browsers The lack of such editors also points out limitations in the standards track and how RFCs cannot really turn the industry3 Finally the biggest argument in the book That innovation comes from teams and groups not from individuals 479 488 and elsewhere The ualifiers for this claim are huge The biggie is that he means successful innovation ie innovation that has gone mainstream Clearly there were plenty of team innovations that weren t absorbed by the marketplace Shouldn t we then acknowledge how teams can fail Additionally what is meant by teams and groups isn t solid Isaacson admits as much when disrupting his own claim by outlining three ways that teams were put together in the digital age 482 Sorry you can t have your lumping claim and then at the end of the book break it down You can make the claim about three modalities of team innovation at the beginning of the book and then show it But pulling this canard out at the end of the book is ust not fairIn sum if this is the only book you re going to read it s OK But the real story is bigger and Isaacson s take on all this "is slanted and focused way too much on the technology we have rather than the technologies we might have I "slanted and focused way too much on the technology we have rather than the technologies we might have I t think asking for that is asking for a different book either because Isaacson is interested enough in the losers to mention them His book would have been immensely richer by giving them their due to the tune of perhaps 50 additional pages over the whole book A masterful tour of the creative people behind the development of computers and the digital revolution using a frame that probes the relative contributions of teamwork vs individual genius As I continually benefitted the ever increasing capabilities of computers from the 70s onward for my former science career and I enjoyed Isaacson s biography of Ben Franklin I figured I couldn t lose Plus friends praise his skills in the history of science as revealed in his books on Einstein and Stev. Following his blockbuster biography of Steve Jobs Walter Isaacson’s New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed The Innovators is a “riveting propulsive and at times deeply moving” The Atlantic story of the people who created the computer and the InternetWhat were the talents that allowed certain inventors and entrepreneurs to turn their visionary ideas into disruptive realities What led to their creative leaps Why did some succeed and others. E Jobs I wasn t disappointed given that he inevitably had to focus on highlights and distillations to cover his intended scope His story of the pioneers hackers Inventors and entrepreneurs who made the evolution possible makes for exciting reading even if you are not technically oriented That s because it s a human story mixing the personal history behind the ambition and dreams and the energy of both competitive and collaborative forces The story begins with Ada Lovelace who teamed up with Babbage in Victorian England to conceive of generalized programming routines that could control a calculating machine They never built a working machine but their theoretical concepts were seminal by the time the build up toward World War 2 was driving scientists ever closer to a working computer to make calculations important for waging war Turing s innovations on code breaking machines mathematical advances by John von Neumann and adaptation of punch card programming from the textile industry for calculation routines of room sized electromechanical computers represented big breakthroughs From there it was short ump to an all electronic system based on vacuum tubes and then a big leap to faster and denser logic circuits made possible by the invention of transistors Major milestones in the form of the first multipurpose memory units the first central processing component and first program stored in memory were paralleled by advances in software languages and operating systems to translate logical operations into machine code The invention of integrated circuits made possible an exponential leap in computing power and opened the door to smaller personal computers which in turn fed into the development of spreadsheets and graphical design programs for business and games for fun and soon thereafter networking and the Internet It s all uite a dizzying progression one that changed the world And Isaacson brings to life albeit in a compressed presentation the many individuals and teams who made it happen There is no great insight in his use of a lens of collaborative vs individual contributions but it was surprising the way the combinations of skillsets played out in various accomplishments Sometime it s a mathematician and an engineer that make a successful team other times it s the addition of a people manager or business promoter that makes the difference The synergy between Gordon Moore and Andy Groves at Intel Bill Gates and Paul Allen at Microscoft and Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak at Apple are ust some of the obvious examples Isaacson also explores the differences and similarities of the environment of various settings of great advances including Bell Labs where the transistor was invented IBM where mainframes and business programming were developed which denied sufficient glory to women programmers like Grace Hopper Penn State where the first general purpose electromechanical computer was creates Xerox PARC where the first graphical user interface was designed and Apple Computer which married hippie chic and Silicon Valley cultures Another theme Isaacson pursues is the whole concept of artificial intelligence and thinking machines vs Lovelace s prediction that computers will forever serve to amplify human creative capabilities The potential for computers to empower the individual drove many to pursue software development without the profit motive The story of Steward Brand harnessing the Whole Earth Catalog and hippie culture to advance this cause was fascinating The birth of shareware through the work of Stallman and Linux and the free contribution of the first web browser by Andreessen are great hallmarks of that tradition worth my learning about The story of the birth and success of Wikipedia was something I knew nothing about and fun to learn about All in all I found this a solid achievement in laying out such a vast river of innovation in a coherent and stimulating progression It s so easy to forget where all these wonders came from that it s worth putting some names and personal stories to the history In his latest book Isaacson offers the reader an insightful look into the world of technology and the numerous people whose insights and innovative ideas have changed the world in which we live While not the biography of any one person Isaacson personifies technology and offers stories related to its branches from the early speculative ideas of Ada Loveless around a mechanical calculating device through to the dawn of Wikipedia and mass user self editing Isaacson travels through time specifically since the pre WWII era to the present to offer tales of innovative ideas that built on one another Things the reader would take for granted become major events and received excellent backstories One thing Isaacson does throughout his tome is to dispel the myths that urban legends have spun into faux realities including Al Gore inventing the internet He further lays the premise that the entire book should be taken as a Set Of Technological Building Blocks of technological building blocks device or idea connecting to the next such that there are not true inventors but strict innovators who seek to add a niche to a larger conversation that takes place in an evolutionary reality Those who seek to claim inventor status are uashed in Isaacson s narrative and by the scores of men and women who have added to the technological uilt Any reader with a curiosity surrounding technology should invest time in this book though be somewhat leery of some technical argon that can weigh down the narrative for the laypersonAs Isaacson presents in his introduction some of these ideas came during his research on the Steve Jobs biography the first of his that I devoured Isaacson s desire to downplay any one person wearing the crown of inventor he passes out the praise to all those who played a role in their own way and does so in an effective manner The narrative flows nicely even if it is weighed down with The New Song: For the Sunday School, Societies of Christian Endeavor, and Other Religious Exercises (Classic Reprint) jargon in spots Thisargon is highly useful however as it depicts the degree to which many of the actors were ensconced in their fields The reader can read or listen in awe to all that Isaacson has unearthed proving how interconnected something as routine as internet access and application usage Perhaps one of the best and most varied of the biographical pieces I ve read of his Isaacson does a "Stellar Job In Presentation "job in presentation and detailKudos Mr Isaacson for this great piece I cannot wait what or who you tackle next for the reader to absorbLikehate the review An ever growing collection of others appears at I feel bad that I Riding Hard joked about this book in my review of Ninth House and made it seem like a boring read all about how transistors are made It seemed funny at the time but it was entirely misleading This book was not boring at all In fact I would say some chapters were difficult to put downThe Innovators is NOT a comprehensive history of all computer and Internet related technology I feel the need to stress that now It takes a very specific route from Charles Babbage to Google by way of Turing Hopper and Berners Lee a route which is about showing the major players in America sourney to the Digital Age It is very easy to read it and think Wait What about so and so and whatshername and Ohmygod it s all about freaking America It s limited is what I m trying to say and Isaacson is pretty open about that from the beginning He knows he d need a good 10000 pages to come close to adeuately portraying this history in full so he s stuck with a few big namesWhat he sacrifices in breadth he makes up for in depth which is personally how I like my books to be This was a fascinating book about several fascinating people some of them not fascinating in a good way Though it also sent me down a number of Internet rabbit holes it has to be said I felt compelled to look something up and then would end up neck deep within mathematical theoryI find the story of how we got from a Victorian polymath to the current ever expanding technologies of today deeply fascinating I love how the author shows how it was such a collaborative effort It is actually impossible to truly pin down who invented the computer or the Internet because it all relied on so many different people s inventions and ideas I loved reading about all the different influences rural tinkerers taking machines apart America s nuclear program anti establishment hippies and Ada LovelaceSay what you will but Ada Lovelace is a fascinating person Whether you give her or less of the credit for inventing computer programming she was clearly a genius and a kinda odd individual But it s ust a real good story isn t it That one of the two earliest computer visionaries and programmers was a woman called Lady Lovelace the daughter of none. Fail The Innovators is a masterly saga of collaborative genius destined to be the standard history of the digital revolution and an indispensable guide to how innovation really happens Isaacson begins the adventure with Ada Lovelace Lord Byron’s daughter who pioneered computer programming in the 1840s He explores the fascinating personalities that created our current digital revolution such as Vannevar Bush Alan Turing John von Neumann JCR Licklider Dou. The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital RevolutionOther than Lord Byron How delightful I definitely think sometimes the amount of time allotted to certain people had to do with whether Isaacson could getread an interview with them than to how important they actually were It is odd to me that Atanasoff who never got his machine to work was given than three times as much page time as Konrad Zuse who built the world s first programmable computer It also reads a little strange when Isaacson skims over the Manchester Baby the world s first electronic stored program computerBut I m nitpicking I really enjoyed reading The Innovators and learning about all these incredible people I was especially glad that Isaacson gave the female programmers the attention they deserved Many people don t know this but almost all of the first computer programmers were women because men didn t realise the importance of software and despite working hard on machines like the ENIAC they were still excluded from men only celebratory events Glad to see them given names and voices in this bookI liked this so much I think I ll read Leonardo da Vinci soon Blog Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube I loved Isaacson s Benjamin Franklin and Steve Jobs biographies I really really wanted to love this one In a sense this book is at least a four star book because Isaacson wants to prove a point and he succeeds no one person invented the computer or the Internet that the digital revolution is one person building on and with the backs of others However it is that success that made this book not as enjoyable for me because Isaacson is profiling so many people several each chapter that their stories get lost one behind the other and the details get confusing He is never truly able to do what he excels at the slow deep biography a discussion of how each life event shaped the person as a whole Also even though I agree it was necessary I wasn t that interested in reading all the technical details of how each idea and machine was slightly different than the one before it I found myself skipping those parts Maybe someone with a strong computer programming or mathematical bent would enjoy it but that s not why I read an Isaacson book One chapter soars here the first on Ada Countess of Lovelace Isaacson allows her a chapter all to herself and it s the version of his writing I know and love I would have much rather read an entire Walter Isaacson biography of Ada Lovelace 2nd read 1082016 10132016Rereading this book was ust slightly less entertaining than the first time through I loved hearing the stories of collaboration outright copying business machinations and cool combinations of art and technology I really like the whole Shockley Noyce transistor microchip era And then the section on the early homebrew groups contending ideologically with Gates and Jobs is good too Isaacson s overt theses are that collaboration not isolated geniuses account for progress and innovation Secondly he makes a case for why artificial intelligencecomputing combined with human intelligence is much powerful than ust computers1st read 10162014 10262014What a pleasure An absolute pleasure of a readThis book is all about the history of computing and the people behind it all There was a time when kids grew up taking apart and putting together HAM radios and getting chemistry sets with cubes of germanium inside This book made me a bit ealous of that basic understanding of technology and I have to admit that after the reading the portion on diodes semiconductors and microchips I spent an entire Saturday online learning about the basic physics and chemistry involved in that process Then I went back and reread the sections and I felt better about my understanding of the history and the scienceIsaacson is great at bringing these hackers and geeks to life Alan Turin Grace Hopper Vannevar Bush John Mauchly Ev Williams A lot of new heroes were brought to life for me reading this book I d recommend this to anyone who has ever felt that gnawing feeling about not uite understanding the basics about the digital world that surrounds us For me this was a great tour that inspired me to dig deeper into some of the science and appreciate of the historySome ket takeaways1 One theme present in most of the breakthroughs was a form of collaboration or batting around of ideas Sparks come from ideas rubbing against each other rather than as bolts right out of the blue That is the way that good ideas often blossom a bumblebee brings half an idea from one realm and pollinates another fertile realm filled with half formed innovations 2 As Vannevar Bush points out there is strength in the triangle of military industrial and academic research The government should fund and help enhance hybrid research centers that emulate Bell Labs RAND Stanford Research Institute and Xerox PARC Basic research is a necessity for continued breakthrough innovation On top of all this the crowd open source is a necessary competitor with private tech This is a healthy rivalry and moves us forward3 The best innovators are the ones that stand at the intersection of the arts and the sciences 4 Electronsprotons AndOr gates with diodes and resistors are the basic building blocs of all of our digital devices To this very moment that is the way every single digital device on the planet works at its most basic level Steve WozniakOnce you ve made something with wire and nails when someone says a chip or circuit has a relay you feel confident using it because you know you could make one Now kids get a MacBook and regard it as an appliance They treat it like a refrigerator and expect it to be filled with good things but they don t know how it works They don t fully understand what I knew and my parents knew which was what you could do with a computer was limited only by your imagination Tim Berners Lee5 Social and collaboration is the under riding theme of the internet and personal computer Starting with The Well through to Medium today6 The internet could ve been radically different if it would ve been established with two way links Look at pages 418 4197 The most productive teams are those that brought together teams with a wide array of expertise both theoretical and applied8 Physical proximity is always best people should have to bump into each other and rub off on each other9 If you want to make money it s all about execution Pretty good ideas Are A Dime A a dime a and even brilliant ideas are not worth much if you can t get your team to build it rightThings I d like to rememberMan Vannevar Bush is cool Read his As We May Think article from 1945 It s kind of like the manual for everything that happened over the next sixty years and I bet there are still dozens of his predictions still waiting to be executed on When I got a copy of Vannevar Bush s As We May Thing I said to myself Yep there it is He figured it out Bush envisioned the Internet as fully is He figured it out Bush envisioned the Internet as fully you could given that you didn t have digital computers Marc AndreessenThe science behind a diode and a semiconductor is super tricky I spent six hours last Saturday reading and watching Youtube videos about silicon germanium boron arsenic pnp npn diodes electricity and a triodesemiconductor I still would like to see a big one in action and get a walk through of a real life example of how it stores a charge and how that charge can be used for Boolean logic processing because I don t fully understand it yet My kids should learn about electronics by playing with radios and transistorsMy kids should get to play with safe chemicalsMy kids should learn to code with an Arduino or whatever the euivalent is when they are old enoughMy kids should be around other kids that are making things robots programs etcSend kids to a Montessori school both Sergey Brin and Larry Page attribute their early growth to Montessori schooling than their parents styleKids should learn physics Kids should get exposure to the arts and should be encouraged to embrace the intersection not one particular street All of the above things that my kids should learn should be things I know about and can do with them Atlantean Shoulders Fit to Bear John MiltonThis is a grand and gratifying overview of the innovators who have played a major role in forging today s dynamic technology and our high tech society with its main focus on the last 80 or so yearsWalter Isaacson who has written bios of Jobs and Einstein has the brilliant ability to research comprehend and assimilate all this intriguing and highly complex information and transform it into an inuisitive and fascinating look at our technological Innovators coherent and clear enough for the average reader to understand AND enjoy I took away a much informed perspective of how we got here and a distinct reverence for the innovators. G Engelbart Robert Noyce Bill Gates Steve Wozniak Steve Jobs Tim Berners Lee and Larry Page This is the story of how their minds worked and what made them so inventive It’s also a narrative of how their ability to collaborate and master the art of teamwork made them even creative For an era that seeks to foster innovation creativity and teamwork The Innovators is “a sweeping and surprisingly tenderhearted history of the digital age” The New York Time. ,


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