Saturday, November 1, 2014

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

On the jacket:

The computer and the internet are among the most important innovations of our era, but few people know who created them. They were not conjured up in a garret or garage by solo inventors suitable to be singled out on magazine covers or put into a pantheon with Edison, Bell, and Morse. Instead, most of the innovations of the digital age were done collaboratively. There were a lot of fascinating people involved, some ingenious and a few even geniuses. This is the story of these pioneers, hackers, inventors, and entrepreneurs—who they were, how their minds worked, and what made them so creative. It’s also a narrative of how they collaborated and why their ability to work as teams made them even more creative.” 


Walter Isaacson's The Innovators starts at delightful note, at least for me. When I began reading the book, I was looking at reading something about development of computers and the Internet, right from the times of Ada, Countess of Lovelace & Charles Babbage to all the way till today. Which is what the book is about, no doubt. But, a few pages about Lord Byron and poetry set a beautiful pace for me.

The only legitimate child of famous poet Lord Byron, Ada never really saw her father since her mother had taken her along, away from her father.  A romantic like her father, Ada's imagination raced when it came to machinery and her meeting with a much older Charles Babbage left a lasting impression in her.

When I had read Isaacson's Steve Jobs, I had marveled at how in-depth the content of the book was. If that had bowled me over, imagine what The Innovators did to me. When we talk about computers and the internet, it's not easy to fathom exactly how large the web is, that needs to be spoken about. So, while reading this book, you need to be patient. Specially, if you are a non-techie like me. But then the first chapter talks about the Byrons and the Shellys, even a literature lover gets lured in. 

Thing about innovations, specially to do with computers and the internet is that, they cannot be attributed to a single person. What one had invented, was added to by some one else, modified by yet another and few innovations added by a completely different person - and then we have a product that has evolved over the years.

In a very easy-to-read style, Isaacson doesn't boggle you with too many tech jargons. And in one book, we have history, science and art, all packed together. The fact that he has included so many innovators and no just written what they have done but given a sort of a backgrounder on the kind of people they were - which threw light on how they go about to be the innovators they were! Isaacson has also, almost spoken about everyone who needs to be named when talking about computers and their advancements - from Lovelace and Babbage back in the 19th centure, to current day Gates, Wozniak and Jobs. 

If technology interests you, this could be your bible. And if doesn't, this book has a lot of good-to-know information for anybody who uses technology, which most of us do.

Rating: ****/5

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