Archive for July, 2014

A Good Read

Posted: July 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

I just finished listening to the Audible version of The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation. If you are at all interested in the history of telephony, or even much of modern technology, I highly recommend this narrative. The book doesn’t focus so much on the technical aspects, but rather on the human ones. The stories of the technologies that we take for granted today are told via the people that drove them.

Things I learned:

  • Under the heading Never Meet Your Heroes: William Shockley was a complete ass.

         It seems his ego was even too great for a building full of Nobel Prize winners.

  • It was a very good idea to know, and impress, Robert Millikan.

         Pretty much everybody who was anybody in the early communication field, in some way or            another, owes some of their success to a word or suggestion from him.

  • Along a similar vein, eating lunch with Harry Nyquist was good for your career

         The greatest common denominator between patent awardees at Bell Labs is that they had            lunch with Nyquist on occasion.

  • Claude Shannon probably devoted more time and energy to developing scientific papers about juggling than he ever did information theory.

         Where would the field of juggling uni-cyclists be now if he had actually published any of his            work?

Further Reading:

http://www.wired.com/2012/04/the-idea-factory-bell-labs/

http://www.amazon.com/The-Idea-Factory-American-Innovation/dp/0143122797

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