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

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Penguin, Mar 15, 2012 - Business & Economics - 432 pages
34 Reviews
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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Review: The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation

User Review  - Jade - Goodreads

Overall, a very worthy book to read. A few comments: + It provides a good historical overview of how Bell Labs came to be, from its inception through its golden age to its decline. It really is a ... Read full review

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

User Review  - Priscilla Herrington - Goodreads

I got this book from the library because I had an uncle who worked at Bell Labs. He was a physicist and he could never talk about his work - either because we couldn't understand if he did, or because ... Read full review

All 4 reviews »

Contents

Introduction WICKED PROBLEMS
One OIL DROPS
Two WEST TO EAST
Three SYSTEM
Four
Five SOLID STATE
Six HOUSE OF MAGIC
Seven THE INFORMATIONIST
Twelve AN INSTIGATOR
Thirteen ON CRAWFORD HILL
Fourteen FUTURES REAL AND IMAGINED
Fifteen MISTAKES
Sixteen COMPETITION
Seventeen APART
Eighteen AFTERLIVES
Nineteen INHERITANCE

Eight MAN AND MACHINE
Nine FORMULA
Ten SILICON
Eleven EMPIRE
Acknowledgments
Selected Bibliography
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

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.

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