Charismatic Prophets of Technological and Organizational Innovation

(p. C7) Walter Isaacson’s last book was the best-selling biography of Steve Jobs –the charismatic business genius of Apple Computer and one of the beatified icons of modern technology and entrepreneurship. Mr. Isaacson’s fine new book, “The Innovators,” is a serial biography of the large number of ingenious scientists and engineers who, you might say, led up to Jobs and his Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak –“forerunners” who, over the past century or so, produced the transistor, the microchip and microprocessor, the programmable computer and its software, the personal computer, and the graphic interface.
. . .
Mr. Isaacson’s heart is with the engineers: the wizards of coding, the artists in electrons, silicon, copper, networks and mice. But “The Innovators” also gives space to the revolutionary work done with men as well as mice: experiments in the organizational forms in which creativity might be encouraged and expressed; in the aesthetic design of personal computers, phones and graphical fonts; in predicting and creating what consumers did not yet know they wanted; and in the advertising and marketing campaigns that make them want those things. Not the least of the revolutionaries’ inventions was their own role as our culture’s charismatic prophets, uniquely positioned to pronounce on which way history was going and then to assemble the capital, the motivated workers and the cheering audiences that helped them make it go that way.

For the full review, see:
ALEXANDRA KIMBALL. “The Best Way to Predict the Future.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Oct. 4, 2014): C9.
(Note: ellipsis added. The first word of the title in the print version was “They.” Above, I have corrected the typo.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date Oct. 3, 2014, and has the title “Book Review: ‘The Innovators’ by Walter Isaacson.”)

The book under review is:
Isaacson, Walter. The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014.

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