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

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Penguin, 2013 - Business & Economics - 422 pages
The definitive history of America's greatest incubator of innovation and the birthplace of some of the 20th century's most influential technologies

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, from digital communications to cellular telephony, it's hard to find an aspect of modern life that hasn't been touched by 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. 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.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - tgraettinger - LibraryThing

Wonderful review of the fabled Bell Labs and the people who inhabited it - including one of my heroes, Claude Shannon. The technologies dreamed up and developed there are still astonishing, everything ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - PaulRx04 - LibraryThing

Excellent book of its type. There will never be another Bell Labs which influenced all history forever with things like transistors which allowed the development of computers and space travel etc etc. Read full review

Contents

Introduction WICKED PROBLEMS
1
One Oll DROPS
9
Two WEST TO EAST
25
Three SYSTEM
59
Five SOLID STATE
75
Six HOUSE OF MAGIC
92
Seven THE INFORMATIONIST
115
Eight MAN AND MACHINE
136
Thirteen ON CRAWFORD HILL
205
Fourteen FUTURES REAL AND IMAGNED
250
Sixteen COMPETITION
266
Seventeen APART
284
Eighteen AFTERLIVES
304
Nineteen INHERITANCE
330
Twenty ECHOES 539
339
Acknowledgments
361

Nine FORMULA
149
Ten SILICON
163
Eleven EMPIRE
175
Twelve AN INSTIGATOR
189
Endnotes and Amplifications
367
Sources
401
Selected Bibliography
409
Copyright

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About the author (2013)

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 an editor at Fast Company magazine. He lives in Maplewood, New Jersey, with his wife and two children.

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