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Book Review

‘The Innovators’

3/11/2015

This is an account of the history of the digital age, from Ada Lovelace’s mathematical writings in the 19th century to the emergence of the Internet that we have today. In between, there are many fascinating stories of the people who worked together to make it happen.

‘The Innovators’ By Walter Isaacson Simon & Schuster Oct. 7, 2014 Hardcover $35 542 Pages Courtesy of Beaverdale Books

‘The Innovators’
By Walter Isaacson
Simon & Schuster
Oct. 7, 2014
Hardcover $35
542 Pages
Courtesy of Beaverdale Books

Isaacson’s theme of the importance of a team to bring innovation to the marketplace is demonstrated in two Iowans’ stories. John Atanasoff developed what could be considered the first computer. He was called away to serve in World War II, and with few collaborators at Iowa State University to carry on, the machine was stored away and essentially lost. Since a lawyer inexplicably failed to file a patent claim on it, the invention did not result in lasting credit or wealth. Another Iowan, Grinnell College graduate Robert Noyce, along with a team of men who had complementary strengths, brought the microprocessor to life in the firm he created, Intel.

Women are among the unsung heroes in the growth of the digital age. During World War II, women provided much of the programming necessary to make the machines work. They worked together well as a team, but their efforts went unrewarded. At the apex of a successful effort, the men went off for a celebratory event, and the women made their way home.

Isaacson’s book is a testament to the power of collaboration in innovation. CV

HIV

 

Julie is a collector of unusual words, strange friends and obsolete college degrees. She lives in Grimes with an obscene number of books. She’s just killing time, waiting for a mad man in a blue box.

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