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The Innovators Audiobook

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution

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Publisher's Summary

Following his blockbuster biography of Steve Jobs, The Innovators is Walter Isaacson’s revealing story of the people who created the computer and the Internet. It is destined to be the standard history of the digital revolution and an indispensable guide to how innovation really happens.

What were the talents that allowed certain inventors and entrepreneurs to turn their visionary ideas into disruptive realities? What led to their creative leaps? Why did some succeed and others fail?

In his masterly saga, Isaacson begins with Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter, who pioneered computer programming in the 1840s. He explores the fascinating personalities that created our current digital revolution, such as Vannevar Bush, Alan Turing, John von Neumann, J.C.R. Licklider, Doug Engelbart, Robert Noyce, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Tim Berners-Lee, and Larry Page.

This is the story of how their minds worked and what made them so inventive. It’s also a narrative of how their ability to collaborate and master the art of teamwork made them even more creative.

For an era that seeks to foster innovation, creativity, and teamwork, The Innovators shows how they happen.

©2014 Walter Isaacson (P)2014 Simon & Schuster

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (293 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Petra London, United Kingdom 14/05/2016
    Petra London, United Kingdom 14/05/2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Much more than a history of technology"

    WI really knows what he is doing! This is a really good book. The account builds steadily in interest and insight. He adds just the right amount of personality and opinion.
    The performance is first class.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    VTS Bucks 22/04/2017
    VTS Bucks 22/04/2017 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I like it, but ..."

    Liked it a lot, but gives the impression that very little has been done outside USA, is that correct?

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bextree 26/07/2015
    Bextree 26/07/2015
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    "Thorough and wide ranging"

    I enjoyed the level of detail and Isaacson's holistic approach. A good historical perspective with little bias- but I would need to investigate further for that claim to be substantiated.

    I will definitely be coming back to this work again.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gareth United Kingdom 20/08/2017
    Gareth United Kingdom 20/08/2017 Member Since 2016

    I enjoy Technology / Computers and follow SpaceX. Vegetarian, love exploring / travelling and trying new experiences.

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    "Magical and thought-provoking"
    Where does The Innovators rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the best as it outlines our past and demonstrates how we as humans can do incredible things.


    What other book might you compare The Innovators to, and why?

    Rise of the Robots. Purely on the basis that Rise of the robots is the next Gen of innovators.


    What about Dennis Boutsikaris’s performance did you like?

    Took a while getting used to, but then seemed to fall into line and worked extremely well.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Too long for one sitting but got through it over a few days.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eoin Delahunty 12/06/2017
    Eoin Delahunty 12/06/2017 Member Since 2016
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    "An interesting history of Tech"

    Bit of a slow start. However worth staying with. An excellent insight into the tech industry. Before there was the PayPal Mafia, there were the Fairchildren!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    bumbledoor 19/05/2017
    bumbledoor 19/05/2017
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    "Better than expected"

    I really enjoyed this book despite having low expectations.
    I expected a breathless homage to genius but instead got a thoughtful reflection on collaboration and human computer interaction and an appeal to the merging of computing and arts.
    Well worth a read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 17/04/2017 Member Since 2016
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    "Thoroughly enjoyable and educational"

    I really enjoyed Walter's biography of Steve Jobs also as an audio book. This wasn't a comprehensive history of computing but it did cover some of the key people involved from the 1800s to present day. Walter is great at storytelling and as with his book on Jobs this is clearly very well researched.

    I'll be listening again in a couple of years I'm sure.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LGSH 08/04/2017
    LGSH 08/04/2017 Member Since 2017

    A science publisher that likes books...go figure!

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    "Another great insight into innovation"

    As with other books by this author, the narrative wonderfully weaves together developments over large timescales and makes them engaging.

    The theme of innovation through iteration, collaboration and the combination of arts and sciences thinking is as well argued as ever.

    Thoroughly recommended!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Goronwy-Wyn Cardiff, United Kingdom 04/04/2017
    Goronwy-Wyn Cardiff, United Kingdom 04/04/2017 Member Since 2016
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    "Interesting take on a huge subject"

    The tale told is an interesting perspective on the computing history and modern innovation, let's see if it stays true.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 14/03/2017 Member Since 2017
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    "Good history of computer and digital world"

    Book not just focuses on the facts about computers and how they came to be, but about people as well. The innovators their life stories and how THEY come to be. Good to liaten, slept many times listening to it during train journey.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Karen
    Connecticut, U.S.
    10/10/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Inspiring stories about technology & innovation"

    Isaacson's THE INNOVATORS is a series of inspiring stories about technologists and their innovations. The stories are woven together to give the book a cohesive flow and it reads like a novel. For technology fans, some of the stories won't be new... but the way the stories are told and juxtaposed with other innovators' achievements makes this book unique. These are geeks' stories told lovingly by someone who clearly respects them and what they've done. I listened to the audible.com version of this book and found the narration well-done. I highly recommend this book to those interested in technology or innovation.

    25 of 27 people found this review helpful
  • Mark
    Raglan, New Zealand
    21/10/14
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    "A History of the Ancient Geeks"

    I have a PC, a laptop, a smartphone, an Ipod and an electronic keyboard. I'm not boasting. Most people in the West who aren't embroiled in poverty probably own a similar range of digital devices. These digital machines have taken over the World and occupy large chunks of our time. And I'm not complaining. I get huge pleasure listening to talking books (a gift of the digital age) and browsing the internet. 25 years ago I got my first computer and it had a hard drive less than 500mb. I hadn't heard of internet or email, There was no Wiki, Google or Facebook. 25 years earlier, when I was a toddler, the only computers were massive creaking mechanical dinosaurs hidden away in military facilities or NASA.

    I find this dramatic recent change in our way of life astounding. And I'm not a computer geek at all. I have no idea how they work, I just enjoy the way they present information, entertainment and interactions with my old friends whenever and wherever I want them.

    So this book is the story of how that all came about. The visionaries and eccentrics who took the series of steps, starting with adding machines and progressing to the first personal computers, video games, the internet, search engines and social networking. The book presents the Goliaths such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Alan Turing, along with the many Davids with whom they collaborated so productively. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I found it a fascinating listen.

    37 of 41 people found this review helpful
  • W Perry Hall
    L.A.
    06/10/15
    Overall
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    "With Atlantean Shoulders, Fit to Bear"

    This book is a grand and gratifying overview of the Innovators who have played a major role in forging today's dynamic technology and our high-tech society, with its main focus on the last 80 or so years.

    Only Walter Isaacson, who has written bios of Jobs and Einstein, would have the brilliant ability to research (on the shoulders of a wealth of prior research), comprehend and assimilate all this intriguing and highly complex information and transform it all into an inquisitive and fascinating look at our technological Innovators, coherent and clear enough for the average reader to understand AND enjoy.

    I took away a much more informed perspective of how we got here and a distinct reverence for the innovators in the text and generally for the human capacity for incredible intellect and curiosity as well as our enduring and limitless creativity.

    The following quote gives the best overview, in my opinion, of the book to an average reader (such as I):

    "Most of the successful innovators and entrepreneurs in this book had one thing in common: they were product people. They cared about, and deeply understood, the engineering and design. They were not primarily marketers or salesmen or financial types; when such folks took over companies, it was often to the detriment of sustained innovation. “When the sales guys run the company, the product guys don’t matter so much, and a lot of them just turn off,” Jobs said. Larry Page felt the same: “The best leaders are those with the deepest understanding of the engineering and product design.”

    Another lesson of the digital age is as old as Aristotle: “Man is a social animal.” What else could explain CB and ham radios or their successors, such as WhatsApp and Twitter? Almost every digital tool, whether designed for it or not, was commandeered by humans for a social purpose: to create communities, facilitate communication, collaborate on projects, and enable social networking. Even the personal computer, which was originally embraced as a tool for individual creativity, inevitably led to the rise of modems, online services, and eventually Facebook, Flickr, and Foursquare. Machines, by contrast, are not social animals. They don’t join Facebook of their own volition nor seek companionship for its own sake.... Despite all of the proclamations of artificial intelligence engineers and Internet sociologists, digital tools have no personalities, intentions, or desires. They are what we make of them.”


    Dennis Boutsikaris, an accomplished actor, is always a first-class narrator.


    This book is due all exceptional acclaim.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Jean
    Santa Cruz, CA, United States
    26/10/14
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Fascinating"

    “The Innovators” is a serial biography of the large number of ingenious scientist, and engineers who led up to Jobs and Wozniak. Isaacson covers the transistor, the microchip, microprocessor, the programmable computer and software. He also covers videogames, the internet and web, search engines, touch screens taken together it is called the digital revolution.

    The digital revolution has changed many things for all people. Some people call this the third industrial revolution. The first based on coal, steam and iron, the second on steel, electricity and mass production.

    The author tells the story of how the digital revolution happened, through the accomplishment of many individuals. Isaacson draws attention to organizations that, for a time hosted groups that were more than the sum of their individual parts. At the “idea factory” that was AT&T’s Bell Labs the physicists John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley created the transistor, the fundamental building block for the microprocessor. It has been called the most important invention of the 20th century. The creative teams at Intel, the key company in development of the microprocessor industry and Xerox-PARC probably the single most fertile source of electronic innovation in the 1970s, they created the Ethernet, the graphic user interface, and the famous mouse. Texas Instruments created the personal calculator. The creation of demand for personal devices has blossomed.
    It was Robert Oppenheimer, who at wartime Los Alamos so effectively found ways of getting scientists with radically different fields, skills and personalities to work together in designing the atomic bomb. Bell Labs, Intel, Xerox-PARC continued this team approach with great success. Silicon Valley took team innovation, venture capital, Stanford and University of California Berkeley Universities put them together to create what is called the “Ecosystem”. The authors shows how Silicon Valley took this “Ecosystem” of innovation and turned it into a powerful pool of creative revolution

    The author tells of Gordon "Moore’s Law” predicting the doubling of a microprocessor’s power every year and half focused energies on a goal that was authoritatively said to be attainable. Bill Gates foresaw that hardware could be commoditized.

    Isaacson tells of mathematician Ada Lovelace, daughter of poet Lord Byron, as she set out to create analytical engines. Isaacson weaves his enormous amount of research into deftly crafted anecdotes into gripping narrative about these imaginative scientists who transformed our lives. The book is a fun and informative read. Dennis Boutsikaris did a good job narrating the book.

    16 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • Shane
    Japan
    14/11/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "History of Computing 101"
    Would you listen to The Innovators again? Why?

    If you know little about the history of computing this is a great listen. It covers a lot of ground, and the narration is superb.

    My only gripe is that if is very superficial in many areas. Many innovations outside the USA get little or no credit (like those my the Japanese, Germans, Australians, Koreans, or Taiwanese), and if you are already familiar with computing history then you may already know much of the content, in which case it may bore and frustrate you.

    Recommended for those not so hardcore into computer science, or looking to stoke a passion in that field.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Innovators?

    The tales of Lady Loveless and Babbage.


    What does Dennis Boutsikaris bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Timing. He gives the words a chance to sink in, especially at key moments.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It inspired me to continue deeper into the field of robotics. Thank you!


    Any additional comments?

    Audiobooks are awesome.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Luis De Leon
    United States
    08/10/14
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    "A short history of digital technology."

    This book is great, the way each biography and technical development interlaces and the insightful narrative made me feel like a witness to history.

    Isaacson is a master distilling the essence of each person and the relevance of each technological achievement, putting it all in perspective in a neat well-narrated package.

    20 of 27 people found this review helpful
  • Gary
    Las Cruces, NM, United States
    16/10/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Much breadth with little depth"

    This book is biography for how we got to the current internet age and all the major steps that took to get there. The author starts the story with Lady Ada Loveless and Charles Babbage's analytical machine up to the development of the internet. That's the problem. There's just too many good stories to tell and the author seldom gets into the nuts and bolts of the story leading the listener wanting more.

    As in any good narrative of a biography there needs to be some themes that tie the stories together. The author pretty much tries to tie his story together with a couple of themes, "execution trumps creativity" and "cooperation leads to creation".

    In general, biographies don't excite me. They deal with personalities and superficiality. The author's biography on Einstein is the one exception. The author not only taught me about Einstein the man, but what his work was all about. He explained the physics (in that biography) even better than Brian Greene does when he was talking about how Brian Greene explained the physics. Unfortunately, in this book the author seldom gets into details. A couple times he did get into the weeds. His section on Lady Loveless was marvelous and she becomes a recurring character in the book. I only wish he had explained what all the other characters were creating instead of what they did.

    I think there are much better books out there that cover the same kind of material better and I would recommend them instead. I would start off with the wonderful book "The Master Switch" by Tim Wu. It delves into why Google is so important and how it got that way much better than this book does.

    11 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • LMB
    crystal lake, IL, United States
    24/07/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Who is this for?"

    The research behind this book is impressive and useful for those teaching a history of the industry. But it is dry and dull. It is like listening to the required standard textbooks in Uni. It was nearly impossible to fight my mind from drifting. I hardly made it through 3 chapters, and I wanted to learn the content. Maybe this is easier to learn from in print. But in audio form, it can only compete with the audio version of a Drivers manual.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Tim
    Jupiter, FL, United States
    12/02/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Who knew that hippies were responsible for the PC"

    Or, that the programmable computer was foreseen in the 1800's. What a story, what a journey. I enjoyed the history, the people, the story behind the story. What more can I say, read this.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Maker
    26/01/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Listen twice so far will listen again."

    This is my favorite audiobook ever. I don't know what else to say. If you favor artificial intelligence over official intelligence you may not like this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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