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This title in other editions

The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation

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The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation Cover

ISBN13: 9780143122791
ISBN10: 0143122797
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The definitive history of America’s greatest incubator of innovation, the birthplace of some of the 20th century’s most influential technologies, including the integrated circuit, the communications satellite and the cell phone.

From its beginnings in the 1920s until its demise in the 1980s, Bell Labs—officially, the research and development wing of AT&T—was the biggest, and arguably the best, laboratory for new ideas in the world. From the transistor to the laser, it’s hard to find an aspect of modern life that hasn’t been touched by Bell Labs.

Why did so many transformative ideas come from Bell Labs?  In The Idea Factory, Jon Gertner traces the origins of some of the twentieth century’s most important inventions and delivers a riveting and heretofore untold chapter of American history. At its heart this is a story about the life and work of a small group of brilliant and eccentric men—Mervin Kelly, Bill Shockley, Claude Shannon, John Pierce, and Bill Baker—who spent their careers at Bell Labs. Their job was to research and develop the future of communications.  Small-town boys, childhood hobbyists, oddballs: they give the lie to the idea that Bell Labs was a grim cathedral of top-down command and control.

Gertner brings to life the powerful alchemy of the forces at work behind Bell Labs inventions, teasing out the intersections between science, business, and society. He distills the lessons that abide: how to recruit and nurture young talent; how to organize and lead fractious employees; how to find solutions to the most stubbornly vexing problems; how to transform a scientific discovery into a marketable product, then make it even better, cheaper, or both. Today, when the drive to invent has become a mantra, Bell Labs offers us a way to enrich our understanding of the challenges and solutions to technological innovation. Here, after all, was where the foundational ideas on the management of innovation were born.

The Idea Factory is the story of the origins of modern communications and the beginnings of the information age—a deeply human story of extraordinary men who were given extraordinary means—time, space, funds, and access to one another—and edged the world into a new dimension.

Synopsis:

A Soul of the New Machine for our time, a gripping account of invention, commerce, and duplicity in the age of technology

A worldwide race is on to perfect the next engine of economic growth, the advanced lithium-ion battery. It will power the electric car, relieve global warming, and catapult the winner into a new era of economic and political mastery. Can the United States win?

Steve LeVine was granted unprecedented access to a secret federal laboratory outside Chicago, where a group of geniuses is trying to solve this next monumental task of physics. But these scientists— almost all foreign born—are not alone. With so much at stake, researchers in Japan, South Korea, and China are in the same pursuit. The drama intensifies when a Silicon Valley start-up licenses the federal laboratorys signature invention with the aim of a blockbuster sale to the worlds biggest carmakers.

The Powerhouse is a real-time, twoyear thrilling account of big invention, big commercialization, and big deception. It exposes the layers of competition and ambition, aspiration and disappointment behind this great turning point in the history of technology.

Synopsis:

The definitive history of America's greatest incubator of technological innovation
 
In this first full portrait of the legendary Bell Labs, journalist Jon Gertner takes readers behind one of the greatest collaborations between business and science in history. Officially the research and development wing of AT&T, Bell Labs made seminal breakthroughs from the 1920s to the 1980s in everything from lasers to cellular elephony, becoming arguably the best laboratory for new ideas in the world. Gertner's riveting narrative traces the intersections between science, business, and society that allowed a cadre of eccentric geniuses to lay the foundations of the information age, offering lessons in management and innovation that are as vital today as they were a generation ago.

About the Author

Jon Gertner grew up in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey—just a few hundred yards away from Bell Labs. He has been a writer for the New York Times Magazine since 2004 and is currently an editor at Fast Company magazine. He lives in New Jersey, with his wife and two children.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Gary Patterson, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Gary Patterson)
The spirit of Bell Labs is alive on every page. Required reading for all
industrial scientists. Great reading for anyone interested in innovation.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Brooklyn Joe, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Brooklyn Joe)
The Idea Factory was the best nonfiction book I read in 2012 and will appeal to geeks and non-geeks alike. Jon Gertner has a rare ability to dramatize complex scientific and technological concepts to a general audience. He combines this with an analysis of the unique organizational culture of Bell Labs made up of a cast of brilliant and complex characters that almost seem fictional. The Idea Factory is a mix of several engaging stories. In part, this is a history of some of the most important technological developments of the 20th century (the development of the transistor, lasers, lasers, satellites, critical developments that later lead to the development of cell phones). The Idea Factory is also an exploration of the leadership and organizational culture of Bell Labs (and to some extent the economic context) that created a unique space for these many decades of innovations to occur.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780143122791
Author:
Gertner, Jon
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Author:
Levine, Steve
Subject:
Corporate History
Subject:
Communications-Telephony
Subject:
Engineering -- History.
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20130231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
16 pages b/w photos on insert stock
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Business » History and Biographies
Engineering » Communications » Telephony
Engineering » Engineering » History
Engineering » Engineering » Inventions
Reference » Sale Books
Reference » Science Reference » Patents and Inventions
Science and Mathematics » Featured Titles in Tech » General
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » Technology

The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$17.00 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Penguin Books - English 9780143122791 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
A Soul of the New Machine for our time, a gripping account of invention, commerce, and duplicity in the age of technology

A worldwide race is on to perfect the next engine of economic growth, the advanced lithium-ion battery. It will power the electric car, relieve global warming, and catapult the winner into a new era of economic and political mastery. Can the United States win?

Steve LeVine was granted unprecedented access to a secret federal laboratory outside Chicago, where a group of geniuses is trying to solve this next monumental task of physics. But these scientists— almost all foreign born—are not alone. With so much at stake, researchers in Japan, South Korea, and China are in the same pursuit. The drama intensifies when a Silicon Valley start-up licenses the federal laboratorys signature invention with the aim of a blockbuster sale to the worlds biggest carmakers.

The Powerhouse is a real-time, twoyear thrilling account of big invention, big commercialization, and big deception. It exposes the layers of competition and ambition, aspiration and disappointment behind this great turning point in the history of technology.

"Synopsis" by ,
The definitive history of America's greatest incubator of technological innovation
 
In this first full portrait of the legendary Bell Labs, journalist Jon Gertner takes readers behind one of the greatest collaborations between business and science in history. Officially the research and development wing of AT&T, Bell Labs made seminal breakthroughs from the 1920s to the 1980s in everything from lasers to cellular elephony, becoming arguably the best laboratory for new ideas in the world. Gertner's riveting narrative traces the intersections between science, business, and society that allowed a cadre of eccentric geniuses to lay the foundations of the information age, offering lessons in management and innovation that are as vital today as they were a generation ago.

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