Book Review: The Innovators by Walter Isaacson

 

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This book about innovation in the technology space, to be precise it is about the history and evolution of innovation in the technology space. Walter Isaacson takes you back to 1843 from Ada, Countess of Lovelace, who published “Notes” on Babbage’s Analytical Engine and takes you through a journey of other innovators in the 1930s, 1960s , 1990s until 2011.

Most of these innovators in the book I have never heard of. It is only when Walter Isaacson gets to the early 1970s that I recognize innovators such as Bob Metcalf, Alan Turin, Paul Allen and Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Steve Case, Larry Page and Sergey Brin,

One of the biggest challenges with innovators is how to commercialise their inventions. Techies are not very good dealmakers, dealmakers are not very good techies. What Walter Isaacson manages to do very well demonstrating the importance of collaborations in the innovation space.

Innovators need entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs need innovators.

No one person is responsible for the innovation of computer technology.

There are innovators who perfected the transistor, others mastered the internet, others developed the web, it is always about collaborations between different inventors in different periods. The invention of one led to the emergence of another innovation in another era.

The book is technical, with a lot of computer jargon. It looks at the evolution before the birth of the computer, programming, the transistor, the microchip, video games, the internet, personal computers, software, online, the web.

Walter Isaacson introduces you to so many innovators in the computer technology evolution. The book is well researched and has depth.

Ranking

7/10

It is a great book if you are a techie, I love history. I believe anyone who considers herself an expert in a subject matter should understand the history of that subject. If you are in the technology space this book is for you.

The challenge for me was the technical jargon in the book and too many people involved in the evolution of computers. I got lost in the jargon.

It is a thick book, over 400 pages. I enjoyed certain chapters and other chapters were a challenge to finish because they were too technical.

I would recommend it to techies. If you are an entrepreneur and loves innovation, Walter Isaacson wrote a brilliant book about Steve Jobs’s life. Steve Jobs

Favourite Quotes

  • “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.”
  • “Progress comes not only in great leaps but also from hundreds of small steps”
  • “Innovation requires having at least three things: a great idea, the engineering talent to execute it, and the business savvy [plus deal-making moxie] to turn it into a successful product.”

  • “Innovation resides where art and science connects is not new. Leonardo da Vinci was the exemplar of the creativity that flourishes when the humanities and sciences interact. When Einstein was stymied while working out General Relativity, he would pull out his violin and play Mozart until he could reconnect to what he called the harmony of the spheres.”
  • “The tale of their teamwork is important because we don’t often focus on how central that skill is to innovation.”
  • “Authority should be questioned, hierarchies should be circumvented, nonconformity should be admired, and creativity should be nurtured.”

  • “Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.”
  • “One day ladies will take their computers for walks in the park and tell each other ‘My little computer said such a funny thing this morning!’ ” he japed in 1951.”

  • “During one maddening session, Kay, whose thoughts often seemed tailored to go directly from his tongue to wikiquotes, shot back a line that was to become PARC’s creed: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
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About Roche Mamabolo

Entrepreneur, Author, Dad. Passionate about Innovation and Creativity, Books, Poetry, Traveling, Theatre, Art, Music.
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