The Maverick and His Machine: Thomas Watson, Sr. and the Making of IBM / Edition 1

The Maverick and His Machine: Thomas Watson, Sr. and the Making of IBM / Edition 1

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by Kevin Maney
     
 

"At just the right moment when we most need it, Maney brings us a penetrating picture of one of the most important figures of the twentieth century, a man whose life teaches us about resiliency–individual and institutional–and much about what we need to recreate greatness in our own future."
–From the Foreword by Jim Collins

IBM is one of the

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Overview

"At just the right moment when we most need it, Maney brings us a penetrating picture of one of the most important figures of the twentieth century, a man whose life teaches us about resiliency–individual and institutional–and much about what we need to recreate greatness in our own future."
–From the Foreword by Jim Collins

IBM is one of the most successful companies in American history; it ushered in the Information Age and dominated the information industry for more than seventy years. Yet the builder of IBM has never been thoroughly examined and brought to life. Now, award-winning journalist Kevin Maney, using thousands of documents never before made public, reveals the lasting achievement of the man who forever changed the world of business.

Watson was the rare businessman who transcended business. His fame and power echoes that of Microsoft’s Bill Gates today and Standard Oil’s John D. Rockefeller in an earlier age. Watson, in fact, created the role of the celebrity CEO. On a grander scale, Watson invented the modern concept of the corporate culture, and proved its power to make a company great.

Watson’s story plays out on a global stage, intersecting with the major events and people of his time. A business failure as a young man, he rocketed to the top levels of National Cash Register before a federal antitrust trial nearly brought down NCR and seemingly crushed his career. The moment forever shaped Watson’s business sensibilities and drove him to reinvent the American corporation. In 1914, he took charge of a struggling little entity called the Computer-Tabulating-Recording Company, infused it with his values, his competitive drive, and his personality quirks, and transformed it into International Business Machines–IBM.

Over and over, Watson made daring bets and won, each time vaulting IBM to a new level of size and power. In the 1920s, when information wasn’t obviously going to become a big industry, he bet IBM’s future on tabulating machines–the mechanical forerunners to computers.

In the Depression of the 1930s, Watson pumped money into R&D and kept factories running while most companies slashed budgets and jobs. When Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal created massive information demands, IBM was ready to fill them. The company’s growth exploded, and Watson became the highest-paid American.

In his later years, Watson’s life took a Shakespearean turn. He struggled with his son for power, and stayed on at IBM into his eighties, endangering the empire he’d built. He became entangled in controversy by accepting a medal from Nazi Germany, a mistake that haunts his legacy today. In the late 1940s, Watson and Thomas Watson, Jr. guided IBM through the torturous transition from mechanical technology to electronic computers.

With exceptional detail that takes the reader inside business meetings in Watson’s office and into his relationships with presidents, business leaders, employees, and family members, Maney tracks Watson’s rise from obscure cash register salesman to household name. Maney examines the profound impact Watson had on modern companies, the business lessons learned, and the personal motivations that spurred Watson’s frantic energy and inexhaustible drive for success. The Maverick and His Machine for the first time reveals the true character of the man whose visionary leadership laid the foundation for the computer revolution.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780471414636
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
04/17/2003
Pages:
528
Sales rank:
757,744
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.31(d)

Table of Contents

Forewordxiii
Introductionxvii
Prologuexxi
Chapter 1Maverick Kindling1
Chapter 2Lit by Flint37
Chapter 3A Mess Spelled C-T-R59
Chapter 4Bringing Up Baby IBM91
Chapter 5Daring and Luck127
Chapter 6Friends, Heroes, Sycophants161
Chapter 7Enemies and Delusions199
Chapter 8King and Castle225
Chapter 9Watson the Second259
Chapter 10Watson's War291
Chapter 11Old Man, New Electronic Age327
Chapter 12World Conquest367
Chapter 13The Maverick and His Humanity405
Chapter 14Generations After433
Selected Bibliography447
Notes449
Index469

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