The Innovators by Walter Isaacson
How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution

74%

28 Critic Reviews

By taking a general approach Isaacson highlights how historical forces, individual talent, and technology all had to come together to create the current digital dispensation. It sometimes reads more like a reference work than a narrative history, but it nevertheless provides an accessible overview...
-Toronto Star

Synopsis

Following his blockbuster biography of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson’s New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed The Innovators is a “riveting, propulsive, and at times deeply moving” (The Atlantic) story of the people who created the computer and the Internet.

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?

The Innovators is a masterly saga of collaborative genius destined to be the standard history of the digital revolution—and an indispensable guide to how innovation really happens. Isaacson begins the adventure 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 is “a sweeping and surprisingly tenderhearted history of the digital age” (The New York Times).
 

About Walter Isaacson

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Walter Isaacson, presidente del Instituto Aspen, ha sido presidente de la CNN y director ejecutivo de la revista Time. Es autor de Einstein, su vida y su universo, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life y Kissinger: A Biography, y es coautor, con Evan Thomas, de The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made. Vive con su esposa en Washington, D.C.
 
Published October 7, 2014 by Simon & Schuster. 561 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Computers & Technology, Education & Reference, Science & Math. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Oct 26 2014
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for The Innovators
All: 28 | Positive: 22 | Negative: 6

Kirkus

Excellent
on Jul 22 2014

Isaacson offers vivid portraits—many based on firsthand interviews—of mathematicians, scientists, technicians and hackers...Isaacson weaves prodigious research and deftly crafted anecdotes into a vigorous, gripping narrative about the visionaries whose imaginations and zeal continue to transform our lives.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Aug 04 2014

The history of the computer as told through this fascinating book is not the story of great leaps forward but rather one of halting progress. Journalist and Aspen Institute CEO Isaacson (Steve Jobs) presents an episodic survey of advances in computing...

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Oct 08 2014

The further “The Innovators” goes, the more familiar its material is to the present-day reader. And the more interesting its exclusions become.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Brendan i. Koerner on Oct 02 2014

His book is thus most memorable not for its intricate accounts of astounding breakthroughs and the business dramas that followed, but rather for the quieter moments in which we realize that the most primal drive for innovators is a need to feel childlike joy.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by NICK BILTON on Oct 01 2014

Unlike his previous four books, all biographies of individuals, his new work is about groups and how the greatest innovations were all shaped by them.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Peter Conrad on Oct 20 2014

...this is the defining story of our era, and it’s here told lucidly, thrillingly and – because the bright ideas generally occur to human beings with the quirks, flaws and foibles that accompany overdeveloped intellect – above all, amusingly.

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NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Michael Levin on Dec 03 2014

If you want to understand exactly how it came to be that your laptop or cellphone can do a lot more than play Pong or tell you that two plus two is four, you’ll relish The Innovators. If you love technology, it’s a rollicking ride.

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WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Steven Shapin on Oct 03 2014

...it’s most effective when it gets to grips with creative teams—groups whose ideas arose from exchanges among its members and whose inventiveness flowed from their differences in knowledge, skills, styles of working and temperament.

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Toronto Star

Above average
Reviewed by Alex Good on Dec 26 2014

By taking a general approach Isaacson highlights how historical forces, individual talent, and technology all had to come together to create the current digital dispensation. It sometimes reads more like a reference work than a narrative history, but it nevertheless provides an accessible overview...

Read Full Review of The Innovators: How a Group o... | See more reviews from Toronto Star

The Boston Globe

Good
Reviewed by Charles Euchner on Oct 21 2014

Isaacson also notes that breakthrough thinkers see the world metaphorically...Isaacson highlights the need for every variety of thinker and doer to join the creative fray.

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BookPage

Good
Reviewed by Amy Scribner on Oct 07 2014

The Innovators brings a fresh eye to the depths of human potential, even as he reminds us that technological innovation is an incredibly slow process.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Above average
Reviewed by Glenn C. Altschuler on Oct 01 2014

Although Isaacson’s analytical framework is by no means original, it is valid and valuable. Innovation, he emphasizes, comes from the accumulation of hundreds of small advances and “some larger imaginative leaps.”

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20Something Reads

Excellent
Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on Oct 10 2014

The story of THE INNOVATORS would make an awesome HBO series, one that could run for years and years, adding new names to it along the way. Congratulations to Mr. Isaacson for making a stand for the marriage of left and right brain! That is an innovation we all should get behind.

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The Daily Beast

Above average
Reviewed by Wendy Smith on Oct 07 2014

...his careful, well-organized book, written in lucid prose accessible to even the most science-challenged, is well worth reading for its capable survey of the myriad strands that intertwined to form the brave new, ultra-connected world we live in today.

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Independent.ie

Above average
Reviewed by John Homans on Sep 10 2014

The book is really about the Byronic age of tech superheroes, an era that seems to be closer to its end than its beginning.

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The Miami Herald

Good
Reviewed by LARRY LEBOWITZ on Oct 05 2014

Isaacson elevates the tale — and reinforces the running theme about collaborative creativity — when he profiles some of the lesser-known figures toiling in academic, government and private-sector laboratories and businesses...

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Chron.com

Below average
Reviewed by Maggie Galehouse on Oct 05 2014

Isaacson is a master of detail, which helps the sprawling cast of “The Innovators” come to life. But it also causes Isaacson to get lost in the weeds at times.

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Post and Courier

Above average
Reviewed by Frank L. Cloutier on Nov 30 2014

The most well-read of technocrats will still learn a lot from these thoroughly researched 542 pages...Although a bit longer and more technical than most histories, it reads as easily as the best of them. Isaacson truly has earned his spot on the best-seller lists.

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Times Dispatch

Above average
Reviewed by Doug Childers on Nov 02 2014

Fueled by entertaining anecdotes, quirky characters and a strong argument for creative collaboration, “The Innovators” is a fascinating history of all things digital, even for readers who align themselves more with Lord Byron than with his math-savvy daughter.

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Business Week

Good
Reviewed by John Homans on Oct 02 2014

Isaacson’s nose is pressed to the glass of this drama—a necessary journalistic role—and, sharing their joy, he captures the primal satisfaction of solving problems together and changing the world.

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Readings

Above average
on Oct 07 2014

...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, this book shows how they actually happen.

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Under My Apple Tree

Good
Reviewed by Leslie on Dec 16 2014

While the book is not 100 percent inclusive, it’s an interesting and entertaining look at the people who had the most influence on the tech we use today.

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Words Written Down

Good
Reviewed by Dave on Jan 06 2015

The book covers a tremendous amount of ground, with some of the earlier sections perhaps not as interesting if someone interested primarily in the more recent past...Really an excellent book from Isaacson that anyone interested in computing technology would likely enjoy.

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https://www.insidehighered.com

Above average
Reviewed by Joshua Kim on Dec 15 2014

I have been an avid reader of your books (and articles), and I am of the opinion that The Innovators is your strongest effort to date. Where I was initially concerned about the length of The Innovators (560 pages, 17.5 hours), my concerns proved misplaced. Your book went by quickly and enjoyably, propelled by a strong narrative...

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Kevin's Meandering Mind

Above average
Reviewed by dogtrax on Nov 23 2014

Knowing the stories here did not distract me from enjoying Isaacson’s book, however. His strong writing style and ability to put events and people into a perspective made for enlightening reading...The Innovators is solid fast-moving tour guide of how we got to this moment...

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Junkyard Wisdom

Below average
Reviewed by Roy Goble on Nov 03 2014

This book is good, but it’s not great, and I’m not convinced it tells us anything we didn’t already know. Still, everybody will be talking about it. And it is a good book. If the topic interests you, you’ll enjoy it...

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800-ceo-read

Good
Reviewed by Michael Jantz on Oct 29 2014

...the breadth of The Innovators is beyond satisfying. Isaacson demonstrates the digital revolution—a revolution unlike anything else in recorded history—to be a global and complex collaboration between people and machines across a century and a half.

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https://thehungryreader.wordpress.com

Above average
on Oct 31 2014

The writing is crisp and easy to understand. There are parts that do drag but one can overlook them in the larger scheme of the theme and essence of the book.

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Reader Rating for The Innovators
81%

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