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

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

Paperback

By (author) Jon Gertner

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  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 432 pages
  • Dimensions: 138mm x 214mm x 28mm | 360g
  • Publication date: 30 May 2013
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0143122797
  • ISBN 13: 9780143122791
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Sales rank: 137,308

Product description

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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Author information

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.

Review quote

"Riveting . . . Mr. Gertner's portraits of Kelly and the cadre of talented scientists who worked at Bell Labs are animated by a journalistic ability to make their discoveries and inventions utterly comprehensible--indeed, thrilling--to the lay reader. And they showcase, too, his novelistic sense of character and intuitive understanding of the odd ways in which clashing or compatible personalities can combine to foster intensely creative collaborations." --Michiko Kakutani, "The New York Times"