Walter Isaacson — The Innovators

Reading The Innovators was like the ball of snow analogy — the further I got in the book the faster I read.

I’ll admit, the beginning of the book was tedious and boring at times given the topic (Ada Lovelace and Babbage’s Difference Engine etc.) but Walter Isaacson is a phenomenal writer and had me by the ears by the end of the book.

The book covers innovation surrounding computers, networks and the internet from the very beginning until the 21st century. Quite a lengthy history but entirely worth the time spent reading.

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Photo by Mario Azzi on Unsplash

A solemn observation from the book is that many of the men and women who stand responsible for changing your life as you know it stood alone for most of the time in which they worked.

They were as this image shows above, alone but fixed on the distant light they saw but no one else seemed to see.

Not all were alone and many had partners or found them in a short time, but still, the solidarity that came with many of these innovations was astounding.

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Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Another massive take away: innovation does not begin and end with one sole person, it takes place when ideas are melded, shared and jumbled about until a new order or combination or addition of new discoveries takes place.

Although the author repeats this incessantly throughout the book, it did not truly strike me just how true this was until I was reading, towards the end, how Jack Dorsey (one of the co-founders of Twitter) was called out by another co-founder, Evan Williams. Doresy was supposedly boasting that “he had made twitter,” so Williams reminded him that nothing is invented on the interent. You simply take the ideas of someone else and build on(to) them and innovate.

After reading the incredibly complex narrative that is the history of development for computers and the internet as we know it, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this is true.

Ideas were worked on for years, progress was made, the evidence was buried away and then years later someone else would pick up where the last left off. In a remarkable fashion, technology developed in an ever-expanding network of great, dedicated minds applying themselves to their work.

Overall, this is an incredible book (once you break past the first 100 pages or so). I greatly enjoyed reading it.

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Non Aesthetic Van Lifer:

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