*The Idea Factory*

I loved this book and devoured it in a single sitting.  The author is Jon Gertner and the subtitle is Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation.  Here is one excerpt:

Scientists who worked on radar often quipped that radar won the war, whereas the atomic bomb merely ended it.  This was not a minority view.  The complexity of the military’s radar project ultimately rivaled that of the Manhattan Project, but with several exceptions.  Notably, radar was a far larger investment on the part of the U.S. government, probably amounting to $3 billion as contrasted with $2 billion for the atomic bomb.  In addition, radar wasn’t a single kind of device but multiple devices — there were dozens of different models — employing a similar technology that could be used on the ground, on water, or in the air.

One lesson of this book is how much war can spur innovation.  Here is one Gertner article on the themes of the book.  Here is a review of the book.  Anyone interested in the history of science, tech, or innovation should buy and read this book.


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