The Innovators was released late last year and has been on my ‘want to read’ list since seeing it prominently placed on shelves in bookstores. It was written by Walter Isaacson, who interrupted his work on this book to write the Steve Jobs biography.
This nonfiction book covers the invention of the digital world and the innovators that played a prominent role along the way. Starting with Ada Lovelace and weaving through the centuries, the book covers topics that are taken for granted today. Defining the computer, programming methods, the transistor, the microchip, video games, the Internet, the PC, software, online, and the web each headline their own chapter.
The historical narrative is told in a way that adds excitement to the story and each stage builds upon the last. For example, microchips improving upon transistors, or operating systems building upon the previous user-unfriendly personal computers. While this book is about the technology, where it has come from, it is very much about the people involved as well. Famous people that included Vannevar Bush, Alan Turing, Grace Hopper, Noyce and Moore, Paul Allen and Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and many more people along the way.
Concepts and personalities were captured and conveyed so that the narrative managed to avoid being dry and long. It reminded me of other similar books I read as part of my History of Science and Technology concentration or just for entertainment purposes such as Where Wizards Stay up Late, The Network: The Battle for the Airwaves and the Birth of the Communication Age, and The Last Lone Inventor. From punch cards to Google and Twitter, The Innovators captures unique and up-close looks at the people who shaped the modern world and avoids the flattering ‘heroic’ refinement that is often added with a historical perspective.
If you enjoy non-fiction and appreciate understanding where technology has come, you will enjoy The Innovators. It is available in hardcover, paperback, Kindle, and audiobook formats from Amazon.com.