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

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution

Following his blockbuster biography of Steve Jobs, The Innovators is Walter Isaacson’s revealing story of the people who created the computer and the Internet. It is destined to be the standard history of the digital revolution and an indispensable guide to how innovation really happens. What 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 fail?
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Publisher's Summary

Following his blockbuster biography of Steve Jobs, The Innovators is Walter Isaacson’s revealing story of the people who created the computer and the Internet. It is destined to be the standard history of the digital revolution and an indispensable guide to how innovation really happens.

What 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 fail?

In his masterly saga, Isaacson begins 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, J.C.R. Licklider, Doug 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 more creative.

For an era that seeks to foster innovation, creativity, and teamwork, The Innovators shows how they happen.

©2014 Walter Isaacson (P)2014 Simon & Schuster

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  •  
    Mark Raglan, New Zealand 10-21-14
    Mark Raglan, New Zealand 10-21-14 Member Since 2011

    I love listening to books when cycling, paddleboarding, etc but I press pause when I need to concentrate. Its safer & I don't lose the plot!

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    "A History of the Ancient Geeks"

    I have a PC, a laptop, a smartphone, an Ipod and an electronic keyboard. I'm not boasting. Most people in the West who aren't embroiled in poverty probably own a similar range of digital devices. These digital machines have taken over the World and occupy large chunks of our time. And I'm not complaining. I get huge pleasure listening to talking books (a gift of the digital age) and browsing the internet. 25 years ago I got my first computer and it had a hard drive less than 500mb. I hadn't heard of internet or email, There was no Wiki, Google or Facebook. 25 years earlier, when I was a toddler, the only computers were massive creaking mechanical dinosaurs hidden away in military facilities or NASA.

    I find this dramatic recent change in our way of life astounding. And I'm not a computer geek at all. I have no idea how they work, I just enjoy the way they present information, entertainment and interactions with my old friends whenever and wherever I want them.

    So this book is the story of how that all came about. The visionaries and eccentrics who took the series of steps, starting with adding machines and progressing to the first personal computers, video games, the internet, search engines and social networking. The book presents the Goliaths such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Alan Turing, along with the many Davids with whom they collaborated so productively. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I found it a fascinating listen.

    25 of 28 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shane Murray Japan 11-14-14
    Shane Murray Japan 11-14-14 Member Since 2014
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    "History of Computing 101"
    Would you listen to The Innovators again? Why?

    If you know little about the history of computing this is a great listen. It covers a lot of ground, and the narration is superb.

    My only gripe is that if is very superficial in many areas. Many innovations outside the USA get little or no credit (like those my the Japanese, Germans, Australians, Koreans, or Taiwanese), and if you are already familiar with computing history then you may already know much of the content, in which case it may bore and frustrate you.

    Recommended for those not so hardcore into computer science, or looking to stoke a passion in that field.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Innovators?

    The tales of Lady Loveless and Babbage.


    What does Dennis Boutsikaris bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Timing. He gives the words a chance to sink in, especially at key moments.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It inspired me to continue deeper into the field of robotics. Thank you!


    Any additional comments?

    Audiobooks are awesome.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen 10-10-14
    Karen 10-10-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Inspiring stories about technology & innovation"

    Isaacson's THE INNOVATORS is a series of inspiring stories about technologists and their innovations. The stories are woven together to give the book a cohesive flow and it reads like a novel. For technology fans, some of the stories won't be new... but the way the stories are told and juxtaposed with other innovators' achievements makes this book unique. These are geeks' stories told lovingly by someone who clearly respects them and what they've done. I listened to the audible.com version of this book and found the narration well-done. I highly recommend this book to those interested in technology or innovation.

    17 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 10-26-14
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 10-26-14 Member Since 2015

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

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    "Fascinating"

    “The Innovators” is a serial biography of the large number of ingenious scientist, and engineers who led up to Jobs and Wozniak. Isaacson covers the transistor, the microchip, microprocessor, the programmable computer and software. He also covers videogames, the internet and web, search engines, touch screens taken together it is called the digital revolution.

    The digital revolution has changed many things for all people. Some people call this the third industrial revolution. The first based on coal, steam and iron, the second on steel, electricity and mass production.

    The author tells the story of how the digital revolution happened, through the accomplishment of many individuals. Isaacson draws attention to organizations that, for a time hosted groups that were more than the sum of their individual parts. At the “idea factory” that was AT&T’s Bell Labs the physicists John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley created the transistor, the fundamental building block for the microprocessor. It has been called the most important invention of the 20th century. The creative teams at Intel, the key company in development of the microprocessor industry and Xerox-PARC probably the single most fertile source of electronic innovation in the 1970s, they created the Ethernet, the graphic user interface, and the famous mouse. Texas Instruments created the personal calculator. The creation of demand for personal devices has blossomed.
    It was Robert Oppenheimer, who at wartime Los Alamos so effectively found ways of getting scientists with radically different fields, skills and personalities to work together in designing the atomic bomb. Bell Labs, Intel, Xerox-PARC continued this team approach with great success. Silicon Valley took team innovation, venture capital, Stanford and University of California Berkeley Universities put them together to create what is called the “Ecosystem”. The authors shows how Silicon Valley took this “Ecosystem” of innovation and turned it into a powerful pool of creative revolution

    The author tells of Gordon "Moore’s Law” predicting the doubling of a microprocessor’s power every year and half focused energies on a goal that was authoritatively said to be attainable. Bill Gates foresaw that hardware could be commoditized.

    Isaacson tells of mathematician Ada Lovelace, daughter of poet Lord Byron, as she set out to create analytical engines. Isaacson weaves his enormous amount of research into deftly crafted anecdotes into gripping narrative about these imaginative scientists who transformed our lives. The book is a fun and informative read. Dennis Boutsikaris did a good job narrating the book.

    12 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Luis SALTILLO, Mexico 10-08-14
    Luis SALTILLO, Mexico 10-08-14 Member Since 2014
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    "A short history of digital technology."

    This book is great, the way each biography and technical development interlaces and the insightful narrative made me feel like a witness to history.

    Isaacson is a master distilling the essence of each person and the relevance of each technological achievement, putting it all in perspective in a neat well-narrated package.

    19 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 10-16-14
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 10-16-14 Member Since 2014

    Letting the rest of the world go by

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    "Much breadth with little depth"

    This book is biography for how we got to the current internet age and all the major steps that took to get there. The author starts the story with Lady Ada Loveless and Charles Babbage's analytical machine up to the development of the internet. That's the problem. There's just too many good stories to tell and the author seldom gets into the nuts and bolts of the story leading the listener wanting more.

    As in any good narrative of a biography there needs to be some themes that tie the stories together. The author pretty much tries to tie his story together with a couple of themes, "execution trumps creativity" and "cooperation leads to creation".

    In general, biographies don't excite me. They deal with personalities and superficiality. The author's biography on Einstein is the one exception. The author not only taught me about Einstein the man, but what his work was all about. He explained the physics (in that biography) even better than Brian Greene does when he was talking about how Brian Greene explained the physics. Unfortunately, in this book the author seldom gets into details. A couple times he did get into the weeds. His section on Lady Loveless was marvelous and she becomes a recurring character in the book. I only wish he had explained what all the other characters were creating instead of what they did.

    I think there are much better books out there that cover the same kind of material better and I would recommend them instead. I would start off with the wonderful book "The Master Switch" by Tim Wu. It delves into why Google is so important and how it got that way much better than this book does.

    11 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 02-28-15
    Tim United States 02-28-15 Member Since 2011

    Putting books on the back burner.

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    "History of Bits and Bytes"

    "The Innovators" is a history book of bits and bytes of computing and the Internet. Walter Isaacson does an excellent job at explaining the technology and introducing the great founders such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Paul Allen, and many others. Also, the history goes into the first social network, The WELL. You don't have to know how to write code to enjoy this book. This author does not dwell on one subject over and over. He tells you the history of the person and their invention and then moves on to the next item. Over 50 years of computing in this book.

    I like to know how things work, like a diesel engine. Nothing is smoke and mirrors. There is always a process behind it. There are no hamsters running on a spinning wheel behind the curtain. Every line of code has a purpose. There is a reason why your cursor blinks and why your searches appears instantly before you type.

    "The Innovators" is an important book to my generation and the future. It is like our almanac, but instead of keeping track of the weather each year, we are always updating to the newest technology.

    I haven't read this good of a book on technology since I read "The Master Switch" by Tim Wu.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maker 01-26-15
    Maker 01-26-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Listen twice so far will listen again."

    This is my favorite audiobook ever. I don't know what else to say. If you favor artificial intelligence over official intelligence you may not like this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin 11-12-14
    Robin 11-12-14

    Hi all. I'm in my 50's (that's relevant, i think), and I favor fiction. I like the british sensibility, and was introduced to the Forsyte Saga through audible ... loved it! I happen to also like Chinese writers, but they are not well represented yet at audible. Looking to follow readers with similar tastes ...

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    "Adequate, but lacked inspired storytelling"

    Having taken computer programming classes in college in the mid1970s, before the time of personal computers, I was programming on punchcards when computers were the size of a wall. I was very interested to read this book. Unfortunately, I was disappointed in this book. Aside from a few interesting tidbits, I found the account of this topic to be rather boring. Perhaps my expectations were just too high.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Glasgow 11-03-14
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    "Tough Listen Great story- but dragged out"
    Would you try another book from Walter Isaacson and/or Dennis Boutsikaris?

    Yes, I thought Jobs was great so I looked forward eagerly to this new release from Issacson, but was extremely disappointed.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Walter Isaacson? Why or why not?

    Yes, Jobs was Great,


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Failry monotone and boring


    Any additional comments?

    I would skip this book. It's a very long 18 hours. I wish I had read an honest review prior to starting it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • Juha Ristolainen
    Tampere, Finland
    7/2/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Really interesting"

    As a software professional this book gives interesting insights into the history of r industry.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • u:p
    6/26/15
    Overall
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    "A fascinating history of computers"

    A fascinating walk through of the people and ideas behind computing. The audio book is long however the narration and writing will keep you engaged.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Headley
    6/13/15
    Overall
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    "What I've been waiting for"

    I really enjoyed this audio book. It kept me engaged and wanting to follow the history of events.
    Recommended for those with an interest in the h complete history of computer invocation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • HJ
    6/10/15
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    "Very informative & excellently researched"

    Walter Isaacson brings the subjects in this book to life.
    A must buy for anyone who wants to who started and how the digital revolution began.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • RGS
    Crawley
    2/27/15
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    "Would definitely recommend to any techies."

    Very interesting to hear the full history of computers and computing.

    Would definitely recommend this audible book to any techies out there.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Alex Cruz
    2/14/15
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    "love it, learned a lot"

    This book was very informative well read and full of information and facts about this modern world, it was very interesting to find that women were the first computer in software programmers. I highly recommend this book if you have any type of interest in technology.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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