The Idea Factory Jon Gertner The book details how AT&T The book illuminates five critical yet under-appreciated innovation success factors: 1) Most of. [PDF] Download The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Download at soundofheaven.info?book= Read Download The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation | PDF books Ebook Online Download Here.
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Editorial Reviews. Review. “[F]illed with colorful characters and inspiring lessons. soundofheaven.info Idea Add Audible book to your purchase for just $ Deliver to your. In the opening sentence of The Idea Factory, Jon Gertner states, “This is a book about the origins of modern communication as seen through the adventures of several men who spent their careers working at Bell Labs” (p. 1). It is often stated, and Gertner reiterates, that. PDF | On Feb 1, , Amy Ione and others published The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation by Jon Gertner. . book about the origins of modern.
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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.
Digital Switching: This system was developed by people such as Ray Ketchledge and others. They had deployed a computer based system, albeit still with analog mechanical switches called Fereeds. Fereeds were small mechanical switches that clicked and clacked. The Fereeds made the new computer elements be the dog still wagged by this old technological tail cross-connection technology.
Kappel wanted an all-digital switch and the Labs kept putting him off. But at the time he had another card up his sleeve. So off he went and got them to build the all-digital switch. Thus, in a true sense, Kappel used the entrepreneurial spirit of the Canadians to do what the mass of people at Bell Labs would not do. The Internet: A first step was to go to a meeting at Murray Hill and seek their support.
The senior person, a VP I was told, began to lecture them that if they wanted this accomplished just send them the money and they would deliver what they felt was the correct design. Let me discuss just a few: MIT Rad Lab: Bell Labs had tried to capture this jewel but Bush wanted a more innovative and competitive center and as such he chose MIT and from that came the Rad Lab.
The Rad Lab was composed of engineers, but they were drawn from many places and the best part was that when the war was over they went back to those many places. The Rad Lab designed radar but radar had the same elements as communications, and specifically digital communications.
Thus from the Rad Lab came such innovations as the modem, designed by Jack Harrington, to interconnect signals from distributed sites. From the Rad Labs came rapidly effected engineering systems, and the terms system is critical, because the parts all worked together. From the Rad Labs came a set of book, the Rad Lab Series, which became the bible for engineers who entered the wireless world and the digital age. The Rad Lab was a petri dish that bred hundreds of engineers who went forth and created the core "startups" in the Cambridge areas and also in Silicon Valley.
DoD Design Companies: It is well known that many of the transistor companies were driven by the demands of DOD. Also many of these same types of companies in Silicon Valley and in the Corridor were driven by DOD money as well.
It allowed for many bright engineers to experience the "startup" albeit at the Government trough. This this book has strengths and weaknesses.
Its strengths are: A well written story of some of the key players in Bell Labs. A well described evolution of the development of the management techniques. Its weaknesses however should be considered when taking the author's conclusions to heart. This is truly a tale written from the perspective of Bell Labs. It totally fails to consider the competitors and thus when reaching his conclusion the author does so without any basis in fact. He totally ignores the weaknesses of such a system as Bell Labs and moreover he fails to consider the alternative entities such as the Rad Lab and its offshoots.
In my opinion this is the major failing of this book.
It would have been much more credible and useful if the author had looked at Bell Labs in the context of the total environment; the strengths and weaknesses and the competitors and alternative models of research. The issue of return on investment being the profit, and not revenue less expenses, is a true distortion of what is done and why.
This idea of a world view is a formidable force. The author seems to be totally devoid of any notion of its import. There were many failures at Bell Labs, and those failures were never truly perceived by those within the system, and it was this blind spot that in my opinion also led to its downfall.
The author missed a great opportunity to follow up on this. Instead we see all these Herculean minds making great successes and yet the system collapses.
Bell Labs was enormous in size and scope at its high point. Yet the focus is on Murray Hill and a small part of a small part. This is especially disturbing in light of the author's global conclusion which is reached without a single discussion of these areas. To do Bell Labs justice one must perforce covers these as well. The Pierce, Shockley and Shannon tales are told again and again, but the efforts of the hundreds of thousands of others over the decades are still silent.
In the presentation by the author before a mostly former Ball Labs group it was clear that my observation on this point had substantial merit.
Overall there is a significant story to be told but this author does not accomplish it. In fact the author's statement denigrating the entrepreneur and the process of "creative destruction" is made without any attempt to understand the difference between a monopolistic structure and competitive markets.
Perhaps if we had kept the old paradigm we would still have our black rotary dial phones. In its exploration of the might and works of Bell Labs, this book reminds us that genius requires the right cultural environment to flourish, and it addresses whether collective or individual genius is the mainspring of scientific advancement.
Ayn Rand would not agree, but then, what did she ever actually accomplish? The early years of Bell Labs were driven by Mervin Kelly, who spent his entire career there, from , until becoming Director from through Kelly was responsible for much of the hiring and structure that made the efflorescence of Bell Labs possible.
Although he was himself a vacuum tube expert, his real genius was organization. Because Bell Labs was designed to advance the goals of the telephone system, all scientific work was ultimately done to address specific operational needs. At the same time, scientific work was encouraged that might not solve an operational problem immediately, or succeed at all, as long as it had, or might offer, some promise of relevancy to the overall goal of the system. Naturally, fixing one operational problem often not only improved service, but created, or revealed, another operational problem, the solution for which might involve an entirely new and different line of thinking, continuing the need to make advancements.
This was a more public-spirited time with a much more collectivist, in the good way, ethos. He additionally created a wide range of silly-yet-impressive inventions, including a calculator using Roman numerals, named THROBAC, which gives you a flavor of the Bell Labs environment. Through the s and s Kelly hired the best men, by offering both high salaries and prestige, moved them to New York, and put them in an environment of creative ferment.
For both Kelly and Fisk, physical proximity of people was key. The New York offices provided such proximity by stuffing everyone in one building, but the new Murray Hill building was deliberately designed for collaboration. Office and lab space could be shrunk or expanded with movable walls. Kelly forbade any scientist to close his door and required that even the most senior be willing at any time to entertain walk-in questions from others.
Men working together had their labs and offices separated, so that they constantly had to walk a long way down the corridors, bumping into people and having unplanned, fruitful conversations. Throwing together scientists working in disparate technical areas ultimately proved critically important to the success of Bell Labs, in ways great and small.
For example, Shockley worked in close physical proximity to several scientists whose focus was the apparently unrelated area of creating ultra-pure elements of various types, work that proved critical to the creation of the transistor, both for its physical material and for understanding the theoretical underpinnings of semiconductors. Gertner covers the origin of Bell Labs and the war years; then he spends quite a bit of time on what is almost certainly the most important invention generated by Bell Labs, the transistor.
Kelly and Fisk immediately realized the economic importance of the transistor, even though they could not foresee its ultimate role in modern society. Their focus was improving their system; transistors could replace vacuum tubes and other devices, too , but were vastly cheaper and better. But they also saw that the transistor would have many additional applications, and they knew that many of those applications were not visible to them.
Critically, even before the transistor was perfected, Bell Labs shipped samples for experimental use to any scientist who asked, and ultimately shared the intellectual property with the entire world both on principle and to insulate themselves from attack as a monopoly. Gertner also covers other postwar work, from development of the Nike anti-missile system, to solar cells which only came into wide use after the decline of Bell Labs , to fiber optics, which were critical to the ultimate development of the perfected telephone system, though the materials science mostly came from Corning.
Failures such as the Picturephone, a classic example of groupthink, also get their due.
Probably its demise was inevitable, both because times changes, and because its guiding principal, improvement of the system, both was largely achieved and its importance largely eroded by other methods of communication.
Almost all of the men profiled in this book and they are all men came from small town America, flyover country, with parents who were farmers, clerks, and housewives.
Mervin Kelly came from Gallatin, Missouri; his father ran a hardware store. Claude Shannon came from Gaylord, Michigan; his father was a probate court judge. Views Total views. Actions Shares. Embeds 0 No embeds.
No notes for slide. Book details Author: Jon Gertner Pages: Penguin Books Language: English ISBN Download Here http: If you want to download this book, click link in the last page 5.
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