The Innovators by Walter Isaacson

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Rate: 4/5


Medium: Audiobook


Overview (No Spoilers): When perusing my local library’s available audiobooks to hold me over in between A Song of Ice and Fire books, I came across The Innovators, which contained everything I typically look for in an audiobook, i.e., a rather long listen about a subject that I know very little about. Despite having my entire life surrounded by computers, electronics, and other automated wizardry, I know very little about the technology and people behind these amazing innovations. As such, I absolutely loved The Innovators, despite getting rather lost in some of the math and electronic concepts during several key product developments. There were a few times that I knew what I was listening to was an amazing and creative scientific development, however due to getting lost in the details I was not able fully appreciate the full impact of the discovery. Please don’t relay this to one of my grad school professors, as I had to take a six week electronics course my first year. The first half of the book was focused on the development of the computer. Did you know the first person to fathom computer programing was a woman?Ada Loveless sounds like she was brilliant woman in a time that did not fully support further education for women, although more women did graduate with their Ph.D.s in Mathematics during the 1920s to 1930s compared to the 1940s to 1950s, by almost half. Many, many of the advancements in the progression of computer developments were made with groups of people working together, rather than individual genius intelligence. On a whole, I loved hearing about all of these incredibly smart people and their quirky personalities! While the creation of the computer was interesting, the second half of the book covering the evolution of the Internet, and the key companies that have developed as a result, i.e., Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, Google, Wikipedia, were exponentially more fascinating due to much of it happening during my lifetime. All of these key companies were founded by very unique groups of men, e.g., Gates, Jobs. I have yet to watch them but recently several movies have been made specifically documenting Jobs’ rather eccentric personality. He was known as being somewhat of a jerk and yet Gates has escaped this persona, despite several people documenting how rude, ruthless he was growing up and while setting up his company. One of most remarkable innovations has been Wikipedia! It is amazing that random individuals have drafted and put together such a thorough collection of pages and articles, free of charge. When writing this blog I checked the stats and Wikipedia had over 40 million pages! While you can’t take the information garnered from Wikipedia as absolute fact, often the editing process and policing by users gives you fairly accurate information. Human beings truly working together! A second overall theme that really stuck out to me was the fact that each one of these great innovations was pared with a business mind. I wonder what other discoveries were lost due to the lack of business insight. I really with that science majors would be required to take a business minded class. Overall, this is an amazing read about a modern day revolution, technology and people that have changed our lives in ways we can’t even begin list, let alone imagine! Isaacson skillfully relays complex information in a way that allows all readers to both understand and captures their attention regarding details that are conventionally dull and technical.


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5 comments

  1. “I wonder what other discoveries were lost due to the lack of business insight.” That’s a really good point. Scientific, artistic and other insights sometimes need to be “sold,” in a sense, before they catch on. I imagine, in many cases, the inventor him/herself is probably the one who misses out, through lack of business insight; someone else will probably come along with both the invention and the business insight to sell it, eventually, so the public still benefits.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! I think it is a huge oversight that the science and business classes are not paired. Scientists need to be able to not only communicate their research but be able to apply it in a way that the masses can potentially benefit!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Great question! Probably a mix of both. Seeing the names and terms in print would have helped me make the needed connections, however it did help me power through a few several sections that were a little dull. Overall it was fascinating!

      Liked by 1 person

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