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Maverick and His Machine: Thomas Watson, Sr. and the Making of IBM

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The first complete look at one of America's legendary business leadersThis groundbreaking biography by Kevin Maney, acclaimed technology columnist for USA Today, offers fresh insight and new information on one of the twentieth century's greatest business figures. Over the course of forty-two years, Thomas J. Watson took a failing business called The Computer-Tabulating-Rec The first complete look at one of America's legendary business leadersThis groundbreaking biography by Kevin Maney, acclaimed technology columnist for USA Today, offers fresh insight and new information on one of the twentieth century's greatest business figures. Over the course of forty-two years, Thomas J. Watson took a failing business called The Computer-Tabulating-Recording Company and transformed it into IBM, the world's first and most famous high-tech company. The Maverick and His Machine is the first modern biography of this business titan. Maney secured exclusive access to hundreds of boxes of Watson's long-forgotten papers, and he has produced the only complete picture of Watson the man and Watson the legendary business leader. These uncovered documents reveal new information about how Watson bet the company in the 1920s on tabulating machines-the forerunners to computers-and how he daringly beat the Great Depression of the 1930s. The documents also lead to new insights concerning the controversy that has followed Watson: his suppos ed coll usion with Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime.Maney paints a vivid portrait of Watson, uncovers his motivations, and offers needed context on his mammoth role in the course of modern business history. Jim Collins, author of the bestsellers Good to Great and Built to Last, writes in the Foreword to Maney's book: Leaders like Watson are like forces of nature-almost terrifying in their release of energy and unpredictable volatility, but underneath they still adhere to certain patterns and principles. The patterns and principles might be hard to see amidst the melee, but they are there nonetheless. It takes a gifted person of insight to highlight those patterns, and that is exactly what Kevin Maney does in this book.The Maverick and His Machine also includes never-before-published photos of Watson from IBM's archives, showing Watson in greater detail than any book ever has before. Essential reading for every businessperson, tech junkie, and IBM follower, the book is also full of the kind of personal detail and reconstructed events that make it a page-turning story for general readers. The Maverick and the Machine is poised to be one of the most important business biographies in years.Kevin Maney is a nationally syndicated, award-winning technology columnist at USA Today, where he has been since 1985. He is a cover story writer whose story about IBM's bet-the-company move gained him national recognition. He was voted best technology columnist by the business journalism publication TJFR. Marketing Computers magazine has four times named him one of the most influential technology columnists. He is the author of Wiley's MEGAMEDIA SHAKEOUT: The Inside Story of the Leaders and the Losers in the Exploding Communications Industry, which was a Business Week Bestseller. Residence: Clifton, VA.Watson was clearly a genius with a thousand helpers, yet he managed to build an institution that could transcend the genius. -from the Foreword by Jim CollinsLike all great biographers, Kevin Maney gives us an engaging story. . .his fascinating and definitive book about IBM's founder is replete with amazing revelations and character lessons that resonate today. -Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School, bestselling author of Evolve! and When Giants Learn to Dance


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The first complete look at one of America's legendary business leadersThis groundbreaking biography by Kevin Maney, acclaimed technology columnist for USA Today, offers fresh insight and new information on one of the twentieth century's greatest business figures. Over the course of forty-two years, Thomas J. Watson took a failing business called The Computer-Tabulating-Rec The first complete look at one of America's legendary business leadersThis groundbreaking biography by Kevin Maney, acclaimed technology columnist for USA Today, offers fresh insight and new information on one of the twentieth century's greatest business figures. Over the course of forty-two years, Thomas J. Watson took a failing business called The Computer-Tabulating-Recording Company and transformed it into IBM, the world's first and most famous high-tech company. The Maverick and His Machine is the first modern biography of this business titan. Maney secured exclusive access to hundreds of boxes of Watson's long-forgotten papers, and he has produced the only complete picture of Watson the man and Watson the legendary business leader. These uncovered documents reveal new information about how Watson bet the company in the 1920s on tabulating machines-the forerunners to computers-and how he daringly beat the Great Depression of the 1930s. The documents also lead to new insights concerning the controversy that has followed Watson: his suppos ed coll usion with Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime.Maney paints a vivid portrait of Watson, uncovers his motivations, and offers needed context on his mammoth role in the course of modern business history. Jim Collins, author of the bestsellers Good to Great and Built to Last, writes in the Foreword to Maney's book: Leaders like Watson are like forces of nature-almost terrifying in their release of energy and unpredictable volatility, but underneath they still adhere to certain patterns and principles. The patterns and principles might be hard to see amidst the melee, but they are there nonetheless. It takes a gifted person of insight to highlight those patterns, and that is exactly what Kevin Maney does in this book.The Maverick and His Machine also includes never-before-published photos of Watson from IBM's archives, showing Watson in greater detail than any book ever has before. Essential reading for every businessperson, tech junkie, and IBM follower, the book is also full of the kind of personal detail and reconstructed events that make it a page-turning story for general readers. The Maverick and the Machine is poised to be one of the most important business biographies in years.Kevin Maney is a nationally syndicated, award-winning technology columnist at USA Today, where he has been since 1985. He is a cover story writer whose story about IBM's bet-the-company move gained him national recognition. He was voted best technology columnist by the business journalism publication TJFR. Marketing Computers magazine has four times named him one of the most influential technology columnists. He is the author of Wiley's MEGAMEDIA SHAKEOUT: The Inside Story of the Leaders and the Losers in the Exploding Communications Industry, which was a Business Week Bestseller. Residence: Clifton, VA.Watson was clearly a genius with a thousand helpers, yet he managed to build an institution that could transcend the genius. -from the Foreword by Jim CollinsLike all great biographers, Kevin Maney gives us an engaging story. . .his fascinating and definitive book about IBM's founder is replete with amazing revelations and character lessons that resonate today. -Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School, bestselling author of Evolve! and When Giants Learn to Dance

30 review for Maverick and His Machine: Thomas Watson, Sr. and the Making of IBM

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    This book had a lot of good information on how to build a company. It was a little hard to get through because of the author's style - he's a newspaper columnist and he struggled, at times, to put together a flowing history. If you like books about business and how to build a culture, I'd recommend it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    A concise, well-written, depiction of the man that IBM embodied, also providing an interesting chronology of the events of which IBM & Tom Watson Sr. found themselves entangled during his tenure. A concise, well-written, depiction of the man that IBM embodied, also providing an interesting chronology of the events of which IBM & Tom Watson Sr. found themselves entangled during his tenure.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tirath

    A very well written biography about someone who is not really given his due. Reading about the dawn of the information and computing age, the patriotism of american companies, and the beauty of culture. I loved the part where TW wasnt feeling well as he grew older but the IBM machine kept chugging along because of a great culture. I wonder how powerful THINK was to promote innovative activities. Loved the bits about the anti trust issues, his career at NCR and how it abruptly ended, his relation wi A very well written biography about someone who is not really given his due. Reading about the dawn of the information and computing age, the patriotism of american companies, and the beauty of culture. I loved the part where TW wasnt feeling well as he grew older but the IBM machine kept chugging along because of a great culture. I wonder how powerful THINK was to promote innovative activities. Loved the bits about the anti trust issues, his career at NCR and how it abruptly ended, his relation with his kids, TW Jr's strained personal life, the force with which the US could marshal resources during WW2, the era of punch cards and the innovator's dilemma - when electronics came to overshadow electromechanics. Fascinating book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rahul D'cunha

    Details the evolution of IBM , the original tech darling of Wall Street, through the eyes of it's inspirational founder Thomas Watson. Armed with a number of idiosyncrasies (not least a healthy dose of arrogance and narcissism), Watson made two huge gambles that in hindsight led to IBM's rise as the world's foremost engineering company. First, he invested heavily in capacity at the peak of the Depression gobbling up talent when no one else was hiring. Second, he massively added capacity during W Details the evolution of IBM , the original tech darling of Wall Street, through the eyes of it's inspirational founder Thomas Watson. Armed with a number of idiosyncrasies (not least a healthy dose of arrogance and narcissism), Watson made two huge gambles that in hindsight led to IBM's rise as the world's foremost engineering company. First, he invested heavily in capacity at the peak of the Depression gobbling up talent when no one else was hiring. Second, he massively added capacity during WWII, defying economists that predicted a post-war recession would lead to a drop in industrial demand. In both cases, the anti-consensus gamble worked out with IBM turning uncertainty into a market opportunity. A key lesson for any budding entrepreneurs - Always take calculated gambles and bet the house on it when you do.

  5. 5 out of 5

    M

    A lesson to all present day market leaders

  6. 5 out of 5

    Think7x24

  7. 4 out of 5

    Luka Vučić

  8. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Jorge

  9. 4 out of 5

    David

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Lumley

  11. 5 out of 5

    Fabian

  12. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

  13. 5 out of 5

    Frank Moore

  14. 5 out of 5

    Craig McDiarmid

  15. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

  16. 4 out of 5

    Aric Coppola

  17. 5 out of 5

    Xinjie Jiang

  18. 4 out of 5

    James Hawkins

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alex Ball

  20. 5 out of 5

    Will

  21. 4 out of 5

    Troy D.Mix

  22. 5 out of 5

    Suzy Le Vo

  23. 5 out of 5

    Paul Mamani

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chris Holland

  25. 4 out of 5

    S

  26. 4 out of 5

    Edie Yae

  27. 5 out of 5

    C

  28. 5 out of 5

    Scott

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tuomas

  30. 4 out of 5

    Paul Vittay

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