BN.com Gift Guide

The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation

( 14 )

Overview

The definitive history of America’s greatest incubator of innovation, the birthplace of some of the 20th century’s most influential technologies, including the integrated circuit, the communications satellite and the cell phone.

From its beginnings in the 1920s until its demise in the 1980s, Bell Labs—officially, the research and development wing of AT&T—was the biggest, and arguably the best, laboratory for new ideas in the world. From the transistor to the laser, it’s hard...

See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (47) from $1.99   
  • New (7) from $5.45   
  • Used (40) from $1.99   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$5.45
Seller since 2009

Feedback rating:

(2502)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

New
2012-03-15 Hardcover 1ST New 1594203288 Ships Within 24 Hours. Tracking Number available for all USA orders. Excellent Customer Service. Upto 15 Days 100% Money Back Gurantee. ... Try Our Fast! ! ! ! Shipping With Tracking Number. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Bensalem, PA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$5.59
Seller since 2010

Feedback rating:

(741)

Condition: New
Hardcover New 1594203288! ! ! ! BEST PRICES WITH A SERVICE YOU CAN RELY! ! !

Ships from: Philadelphia, PA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$5.59
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(458)

Condition: New
Hardcover New 1594203288! ! KNOWLEDGE IS POWER! ! ENJOY OUR BEST PRICES! ! ! Ships Fast. All standard orders delivered within 5 to 12 business days.

Ships from: Southampton, PA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$5.59
Seller since 2010

Feedback rating:

(992)

Condition: New
Hardcover New 1594203288 Friendly Return Policy. A+++ Customer Service!

Ships from: Philadelphia, PA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$5.59
Seller since 2011

Feedback rating:

(800)

Condition: New
Hardcover New 1594203288 SERVING OUR CUSTOMERS WITH BEST PRICES. FROM A COMPANY YOU TRUST, HUGE SELECTION. RELIABLE CUSTOMER SERVICE! ! HASSLE FREE RETURN POLICY, SATISFACTION ... GURANTEED**** Read more Show Less

Ships from: Philadelphia, PA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$20.73
Seller since 2010

Feedback rating:

(49)

Condition: New
2012-03-15 Hardcover New This is a new clean copy with a remainder mark. Tracking is available.

Ships from: Maryville, TN

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$47.32
Seller since 2011

Feedback rating:

(7)

Condition: New
2013 Hardcover New Book New and in stock. 5/30/2013. *****PLEASE NOTE: This item is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. In the event that a return is necessary, you ... will be able to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

Ships from: Morden, United Kingdom

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Close
Sort by
The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$13.99
BN.com price

Overview

The definitive history of America’s greatest incubator of innovation, the birthplace of some of the 20th century’s most influential technologies, including the integrated circuit, the communications satellite and the cell phone.

From its beginnings in the 1920s until its demise in the 1980s, Bell Labs—officially, the research and development wing of AT&T—was the biggest, and arguably the best, laboratory for new ideas in the world. From the transistor to the laser, it’s hard to find an aspect of modern life that hasn’t been touched by Bell Labs.

Why did so many transformative ideas come from 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. At its heart this is a story about the life and work of a small group of brilliant and eccentric men—Mervin Kelly, Bill Shockley, Claude Shannon, John Pierce, and Bill Baker—who spent their careers at Bell Labs. Their job was to research and develop the future of communications.  Small-town boys, childhood hobbyists, oddballs: they give the lie to the idea that Bell Labs was a grim cathedral of top-down command and control.

Gertner brings to life the powerful alchemy of the forces at work behind Bell Labs inventions, teasing out the intersections between science, business, and society. He distills the lessons that abide: how to recruit and nurture young talent; how to organize and lead fractious employees; how to find solutions to the most stubbornly vexing problems; how to transform a scientific discovery into a marketable product, then make it even better, cheaper, or both. Today, when the drive to invent has become a mantra, Bell Labs offers us a way to enrich our understanding of the challenges and solutions to technological innovation. Here, after all, was where the foundational ideas on the management of innovation were born.

The Idea Factory is the story of the origins of modern communications and the beginnings of the information age—a deeply human story of extraordinary men who were given extraordinary means—time, space, funds, and access to one another—and edged the world into a new dimension.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Decades before America's scientific thinkers began migrating to Silicon Valley, Bell Laboratories of Murray Hill, New Jersey was setting the pace for technological progress. In fact, according to New York Times Magazine journalist Jon Gertner, Bell Labs was the most innovative and productive institution of the twentieth century. His new book offers an utterly fascinating portrait of an intellectual lab which seems in retrospect almost utopian: Employees from different fields were encouraged to work together with little pressure to create immediately marketable products. A lively history and a revealing case study in how to generate new technology and new ideas; now in trade paperback and NOOK Book.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

New York Times Magazine writer Gertner provides a view of American research and development that will take engineers, scientists, and managers back to the golden age of invention in the U.S. "To consider what occurred at Bell Labs...is to consider the possibilities of what large human organizations might accomplish." Tracing the lives of key contributors-including Bill Shockley, John Pierce, Claude Shannon, and Mervin Kelley-Gertner provides a compelling history that moves quickly through an era that provided many of the advancements of modern life. From Bell Labs personnel-working for AT&T as well as the government during wartime-came an astonishing array of technology, from the telephone (which originally didn't have a ringer), to radar, synthetic rubber, and the laser. According to Pierce, the Bell Labs environment nurtured creativity by simply allowing scientists and engineers the time and money to research; its management was able to "think long-term toward the revolutionary, and to simultaneously think near-term toward manufacturing." Readers will glimpse the inner workings of the famed scientists, particularly Shannon, who "frequently went down the halls juggling or pogoing"-and occasionally doing both. Gertner follows these odd and brilliant thinkers to the end of Bell Labs in the 1980s and to their own ends, providing readers with insight into management, creativity, and engineering that remain applicable today. Scientists, tinkerers, managers, and HR professionals will find plenty of inspiration here.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

New York Times
…riveting…Mr. Gertner's portraits of Kelly and the cadre of talented scientists who worked at Bell Labs are animated by a journalistic ability to make their discoveries and inventions utterly comprehensible —indeed, thrilling —to the lay reader. And they showcase, too, his novelistic sense of character and intuitive understanding of the odd ways in which clashing or compatible personalities can combine to foster intensely creative collaborations.
Michiko Kakutani
Kirkus Reviews
Fast Company editor Gertner traces the history of Bell Labs through more than five decades of brilliant thinking and innovation. From the transistor to lasers to satellites and cellular technology, Bell Labs and its scientists invented machines and techniques that were consistently prescient, and ultimately presaged all of modern communications. Housed first in New York City and then on a sprawling campus in New Jersey, Bell Labs became a haven for creative and technical minds due to a unique culture of encouraged interdisciplinary research, (mostly) friendly competition and inspired leadership. Tremendously complex ideas (information theory) and intensely experimental accomplishments (fiber optics) were possible in part because of the unrivaled freedom, time and funding Bell Labs provided. In addition, pressing social, political and economic issues provided necessary infrastructures for advances in engineering and mechanics. The author describes the atmosphere as welcoming creativity rather than insisting on rigid development; intellectually, there was an indistinct line between art and science. By tracing the history of Bell Labs through the biographies of several of its founding thinkers, including Mervin Kelly, Bill Shockley and Claude Shannon, Gertner reveals the complicated humanity at work behind the scenes and provides unprecedented insight on some of history's most important scientific and technological advances. Packed with anecdotes and trivia and written in clear and compelling prose, this story of a cutting-edge and astonishingly robust intellectual era--and one not without its controversies and treachery--is immensely enjoyable.
The New York Times Book Review
…a well-­researched history of Bell Labs, filled with colorful characters and inspiring lessons. But more important, The Idea Factory explores one of the most critical issues of our time: What causes innovation? Why does it happen, and how might we nurture it? The lesson of Bell Labs is that most feats of sustained innovation cannot and do not occur in an iconic garage or the workshop of an ingenious inventor. They occur when people of diverse talents and mind-sets and expertise are brought together, preferably in close physical proximity where they can have frequent meetings and serendipitous encounters.
—Walter Isaacson
Wired.com
“An expansive new history . . . does an impressive job of illuminating many of Bell Labs’ key technological triumphs.”
The Wall Street Journal
“Compelling . . . Gertner's book offers fascinating evidence for those seeking to understand how a society should best invest its research resources.”
The Boston Globe
“One of the best innovation-focused books I've read: It's a wide-ranging, detailed, and deeply fascinating look at the New Jersey lab which has been churning out useful discoveries since the early 1900s.”
Slate Book Review

“Fascinating history . . . the research behind The Idea Factory is astonishing.”
Walter Isaacson
“Filled with colorful characters and inspiring lessons . . . The Idea Factory explores one of the most critical issues of our time: What causes innovation?”
Michiko Kakutani
“Riveting . . . Mr. Gertner’s portraits of Kelly and the cadre of talented scientists who worked at Bell Labs are animated by a journalistic ability to make their discoveries and inventions utterly comprehensible—indeed, thrilling—to the lay reader. And they showcase, too, his novelistic sense of character and intuitive understanding of the odd ways in which clashing or compatible personalities can combine to foster intensely creative collaborations.”
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594203282
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 3/15/2012
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Jon Gertner grew up in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey—just a few hundred yards away from Bell Labs. He has been a writer for the New York Times Magazine since 2004 and is currently an editor at Fast Company magazine. He lives in New Jersey, with his wife and two children.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction: Wicked Problems 1

Part 1 7

1 Oil Drops 9

2 West to East 25

3 System 41

4 War 59

5 Solid State 75

6 House of Magic 92

7 The Informations 115

8 Man and Machine 136

9 Formula 149

10 Silicon 163

11 Empire 175

Part 2187

12 An Instigator 189

13 On Crawford Hill 205

14 Futures, Real and Imagined 228

15 Mistakes 250

16 Competition 266

17 Apart 284

18 Afterlives 304

19 Inheritance 330

20 Echoes 339

Acknowledgments 361

Endnotes and Amplifications 367

Sources 401

Selected Bibliography 409

Index 413

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 14 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(7)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2014

    Awesome

    Great book outlining the personalities, decisions and context of some of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2012

    Nine Years to Write!

    This history of Bell Labs is a history of the technology we live with today. All of our Internet powerhouses owe their existance to Bell, building their organizations and, often, getting their people from it. There were giants in those days.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 22, 2012

    great reading about the start of the tech industry

    had no idea about all of the innovations that Bell Labs and Western Electric were responsible for - one of the few books i had to find time to read every day until it was finished

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2012

    Great Book!

    One of the rare books I started to read and could not wait to finish!
    Even set aside my income tax preparation!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2014

    Great read!

    While the subject matter of the book is coming from a very technical area, the author writes in an easy to read manner that is not highly technical (i.e., highly equation-oriented.) He places his story within the context of a unique period in American history.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2012

    Unknown

    Waits for cats. **Unknown, Unknown**

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)