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The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution Hardcover – Oct 7 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (Oct. 7 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 147670869X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476708690
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 4.1 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 717 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #5,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

“[A] sweeping and surprisingly tenderhearted history of the digital age . . . absorbing and valuable, and Isaacson’s outsize narrative talents are on full display. Few authors are more adept at translating technical jargon into graceful prose, or at illustrating how hubris and greed can cause geniuses to lose their way. . . . The book evinces a genuine affection for its subjects that makes it tough to resist . . . his book is thus most memorable not for its intricate accounts of astounding breakthroughs and the business dramas that followed, but rather for the quieter moments in which we realize that most primal drive for innovators is a need to feel childlike joy.” (New York Times Book Review)

The Innovators . . . is riveting, propulsive and at times deeply moving. . . . One of Isaacson’s jealousy-provoking gifts is his ability to translate complicated science into English—those who have read his biographies of Einstein and Steve Jobs understand that Isaacson is a kind of walking Rosetta Stone of physics and computer programming. . . . The Innovators is one of the most organically optimistic books I think I've ever read. It is a stirring reminder of what Americans are capable of doing when they think big, risk failure, and work together.”
  (Jeffrey Goldberg The Atlantic)

“A sprawling companion to his best-selling Steve Jobs . . . this kaleidoscopic narrative serves to explain the stepwise development of 10 core innovations of the digital age — from mathematical logic to transistors, video games and the Web — as well as to illustrate the exemplary traits of their makers. . . . Isaacson unequivocally demonstrates the power of collaborative labor and the interplay between companies and their broader ecosystems. . . . The Innovators is the most accessible and comprehensive history of its kind. (The Washington Post)

“Walter Isaacson has written an inspiring book about genius, this time explaining how creativity and success come from collaboration. The Innovators is a fascinating history of the digital revolution, including the critical but often forgotten role women played from the beginning. It offers truly valuable lessons in how to work together to achieve great results.” (Sheryl Sandberg)

“Isaacson provides a sweeping and scintillating narrative of the inventors, engineers and entrepreneurs who have given the world computers and the Internet. . . . a near-perfect marriage of author and subject . . . an informative and accessible account of the translation of computers, programming, transistors, micro-processors, the Internet, software, PCs, the World Wide Web and search engines from idea into reality. . . . [a] masterful book.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

“A panoramic history of technological revolution . . . a sweeping, thrilling tale. . . . Throughout his action-packed story, Isaacson . . . offers vivid portraits—many based on firsthand interviews—[and] weaves prodigious research and deftly crafted anecdotes into a vigorous, gripping narrative about the visionaries whose imaginations and zeal continue to transform our lives.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

“A remarkable overview of the history of computers from the man who brought us biographies of Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and Henry Kissinger . . . Isaacson manages to bring together the entire universe of computing, from the first digitized loom to the web, presented in a very accessible manner that often reads like a thriller.” (Booklist (starred review))

“Anyone who uses a computer in any of its contemporary shapes or who has an interest in modern history will enjoy this book.” (Library Journal (starred review))

“The history of the computer as told through this fascinating book is not the story of great leaps forward but rather one of halting progress. Journalist and Aspen Institute CEO Isaacson (Steve Jobs) presents an episodic survey of advances in computing and the people who made them, from 19th-century digital prophet Ada Lovelace to Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. . . . Isaacson’s absorbing study shows that technological progress is a team sport, and that there’s no I in computer.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Isaacson succeeds in telling an accessible tale tailored to a general interest audience. He avoids the overhyped quicksand that swallows many technology writers as they miscast tiny incremental advances as ‘revolutionary.’ Instead Isaacson focuses on the evolutionary nature of progress. The Innovators succeeds in large part because Isaacson repeatedly shows how these visionaries, through design or dumb luck, were able to build and improve on the accomplishments of previous generations.” (Miami Herald)

“. . . sharing their joy, [Isaacson] captures the primal satisfaction of solving problems together and changing the world. . . . In a way, the book is about the complex lines of force and influence in male friendships, the egging each other on and ranking each other out.” (Bloomberg Business Week)

“[Isaacson’s] careful, well-organized book, written in lucid prose accessible to even the most science-challenged, is well worth reading for its capable survey of the myriad strands that intertwined to form the brave new, ultra-connected world we live in today.” (TheDailyBeast.com)

“If you think you know everything about computers, read The Innovators. Surprises await on every page.” (Houston Chronicle)

The Innovators . . . does far more than analyze the hardware and software that gave birth to digital revolution – it fully explores the women and men who created the ideas that birthed the gadgets. . . . Isaacson tells stories of vanity and idealism, of greed and sacrifice, and of the kind of profound complexity that lies behind the development of seemingly simple technological improvements. . . . Isaacson is skilled at untangling the tangled strands of memory and documentation and then reweaving them into a coherent tapestry that illustrates how something as complicated and important as the microchip emerged from a series of innovations piggybacking off of one another for decades (centuries, ultimately.) . . . It’s a portrait both of a technology, and the culture that nurtured it. That makes it a remarkable book, and an example for other would-be gadget chroniclers to keep readily at hand before getting lost in a labyrinth of ones and zeros – at the expense of the human beings who built the maze in the first place.” (Christian Science Monitor)

"[A] tour d’horizon of the computer age . . . [The Innovators] presents a deeply comforting, humanistic vision: of how a succession of brilliant individuals, often working together in mutually supportive groups, built on each others’ ideas to create a pervasive digital culture in which man and machine live together in amicable symbiosis. . . . a fresh perspective on the birth of the information age." (Financial Times)

“A sweeping history of the digital revolution, and the curious partnerships and pulsing rivalries that inhabit it.” (Gizmodo.com)

“Steve Jobs’s biographer delivers a fascinating, informative look at the quirky ‘collaborative creatures’ who invented the computer and Internet.” (People)

“[T]his is the defining story of our era, and it’s here told lucidly, thrillingly and—because the bright ideas generally occur to human beings with the quirks, flaws and foibles that accompany overdeveloped intellect—above all, amusingly.” (The Guardian)

“If anyone in America understands genius, it’s Walter Isaacson.” (Salon.com)

“Mr. Isaacson's fine new book, The Innovators, is a serial biography of the large number of ingenious scientists and engineers who, you might say, led up to Jobs and his Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.” (Steven Shapin Wall Street Journal)

“…a project whose gestation preceded Steve Jobs and whose vision exceeds it.” (New York Magazine)

“For a book about programmers and algorithms, ‘The Innovators’ is a lively, enthusiastically written tale and a worthwhile read, not only for tech-heads but for anyone interested in how computers got into our pockets and how innovation works.” (Aspen Times)

[a] landmark new work . . . In this often surprising history, Isaacson offers an encyclopedic account of the technological breakthroughs that made modern computers and networks possible: programming, transistors, chips, software, graphics, desktop computers, and the Internet.” (Boston Globe)

“The brilliant Isaacson follows his mega-selling 2011 biography of Apple founder Steve Jobs with this detailed account of the legendary and unsung people who invented the computer and then the Internet.” (Sacramento Bee)

“The argument against the great man theory of invention is not new. But the main merit of Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators is to show that this is particularly true in information technology—despite the customary lionisation of many of its pioneers, from Babbage and Alan Turing to Bill Gates and Linus Torvalds. . . . Mr Isaacson excels at explaining complex concepts.” (The Economist)

“Walter Isaacson is the best possible guide to this storm. He interrupted work on [The Innovators] book to write the standard biography of Steve Jobs, having previously written lives of Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and Kissinger. His approach involves massive research combined with straight, unadorned prose and a matter-of-fact storytelling style. . . . the directness of his approach makes for clarity and pace.” (Bryan Appleyard The Sunday Times)

“Isaacson’s book offers a magisterial, detailed sweep, from the invention of the steam engine to the high-tech marvels of today, with profiles of the great innovators who made it all happen. Among the book’s excellent advice is this gem from computing pioneer Howard Aiken: ‘Don’t worry about people stealing an idea. If it’s original, you will have to ram it down their throats.’” (Forbes)

"A masterpiece" (Daily News (Bowling Green, Kentucky))

“In The Innovators, Isaacson succeeds infilling our knowledge gap by crafting a richly detailed history that traces the evolution of these modern tools and pays homage to the people whose names and contributions to computer science are little-known to most of us. . . . The Innovators is as much about the essence of creativity and genius as it is about cathode tubes, binary programs, circuit boards, microchips and everything in between.” (SUCCESS)

“A sweeping history of the digital revolution, and the curious partnerships and pulsing rivalries that inhabit it.” (Gizmodo)

“If anyone could compress all that into a readable narrative, it would be Isaacson, the former managing editor of Time and author of magnificent biographies of Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs….The Innovators shows Isaacson at his best in segments where his talents as a biographer have room to run.” (Dallas Morning News)

“Fueled by entertaining anecdotes, quirky characters and a strong argument for creative collaboration, The Innovators is a fascinating history of all things digital, even for readers who align themselves more with Lord Byron than with his math-savvy daughter.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

“a significant addition to [Isaacson’s] list of best-selling nonfiction works with The Innovators. . . . Isaacson thoroughly examines the lives of such landmark personalities as Alan Turing, John von Neumann, J.C.R. Licklider, Robert Noyce,Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Tim Berners-Lee, Jobs and others. The most well-read of technocrats will still learn a lot from these thoroughly researched 542 pages. He shows with repeated examples that an Aha moment often went nowhere without the necessary collaborators to help flesh out the idea, or make it producible, or sell it. Collaboration is, indeed, a major theme of the book. . . . [The Innovators] reads as easily as the best of them. Isaacson truly has earned his spot on the best-seller lists.” (Charleston Post and Courier)

BEST OF 2014

NEW YORK TIMES; WASHINGTON POST; FINANCIAL TIMES; HOUSTON CHRONICLE; KIRKUS; AMAZON; NPR; BLOOMBERG.COM­; WALL STREETJOURNAL; FORBES; SACRAMENTO BEE; (BEST OF 2014)

About the Author

Walter Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute, has been chairman of CNN and the managing editor of Time magazine. He is the author of The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution; Steve Jobs; Einstein: His Life and Universe; Benjamin Franklin: An American Life; and Kissinger: A Biography, and the coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made. He lives in Washington, DC. Follow him on Twitter @WalterIsaacson.

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By Carolyn TOP 500 REVIEWER on Oct. 21 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a masterful history of the ideas and technical developments which led to the digital age. The main emphasis is on the importance of collaboration during the long history of the development of the internet and the gadgets we use today. The most successful advances depended on the connection between visionaries, hardware or software developers to make those ideas into workable objects. Also business men to raise funds for the development and implementation of the devices.
It traces the history from Babbage's early attempts to build an early mathematic computer in the early 1800 hundreds and Ada Lovelace ( Lord Byron's daughters) who is credited with writing the first computer program for Babbage. She envisioned that symbols for words and music could someday work in a computer. From there we learn about the thinkers and scientists who collaborated leading to the computers,smart phones, tablets, internet,Google, social networks, Wikipedia and other amazing benefits resulting from their work that we use today.
The book contains mini-biographies of some familiar names such as Alan Turing, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, the founders of Google, Wikipedia, and also mentions how countless others who got us to where we are today. It was interesting to learn that the earliest computer programmers for the military computers during WW2 were women.
I found the descriptions of some of of the technical inventions difficult, but I feel that author made these descriptions as clear as possible for the average reader. This is a fascinating book and highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
What we have in this exceptionally valuable volume, as its subtitle correctly suggests -- is a comprehensive examination of most (not all) of the most significant "hackers, geniuses, and geeks who created the Digital Revolution." Walter Isaacson begins his survey with Ada, Countess of Lovelace's publication of her "Notes" on Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine in 1843 and concludes with an IBM computer's (Deep Blue's) defeat of chess Champion Gary Kasparov in 1997 and then another IBM computer's (Watson's) defeat of previous Jeopardy! champions, Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings, in 2011.

He also notes the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) breakthroughs in innovation, suggesting that "one genius, the English mathematician Alan Turing, stands out as a heroic-tragic figure, and he's about to get his due in a new movie, The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, which won the top award at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this month and will open in theaters in November."

As he explains, "The combined talents of humans and computers, when working together in partnership and symbiosis, will definitely be more creative than any computer working alone. We live in the age of computers, but few of us know who invented them. Because most of the pioneers were part of collaborative teams working in wartime secrecy, they aren't as famous as an Edison, Bell or Morse."

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me. They are also listed to suggest the scope of Isaacson's coverage in Chapters One to Five.
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An excellent overview of the developmental steps that brought us to the state of technology we all enjoy today. The details of the oldest parts of the history were educational for me, especially Lady Ada's influence. I had heard all the names but the details of their various contributions, the great leaps and wasted potential were equally interesting. I lived through and participated in a fair amount of this journey; I used the earliest IBM word processing systems that relied on magnetic tapes. I started working in IT when COBOL was the standard programming language, Hayes built my modems and 1200 baud was "the bomb", Smalltalk was my first dial-up software and DARPA Net was the only real inter-network (as we now understand the term) in the world. I built my first Ethernet on "Bell" wire and had to order NIC's from the only manufacturer who produced cards with on-board transceivers. Xerox PARC supplied the first NOS and protocols I ever used (Novell Netware), TCP/IP wasn't there yet.

The book took me back. I worked with real collaborators to invent and implement innovative uses of the new technologies. We had to understand how the mechanics worked so we could imagine what questions to ask. I'm the "visionary" that imagines what could be and then relies on the engineers to tell me if and how the vision can be realized. When the engineers pushed back, I had to re-imagine how to work-around the limitations and then translate that vision to the engineers again for their evaluation - it's an iterative process predicated on mutual respect. Functioning brains and shared goals are required! We need each other to make it all work.
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