Category Archives: Computers & Internet

A Review of The Innovators by Walter Isaacson

The Innovators

by Walter Isaacson

If you have read any of the previous books by Mr. Isaacson, you know how thoroughly he researches and combines everything that he finds into a massive book with an underlying theme. In The Innovators, he gathers substantial amounts of information that deals with all aspects of the growth of computer technology. He combines it to tell the story of the growth of information technology, starting with Ada Byron (aka Ada Lovelace) and Charles Babbage.

In 1834, Babbage conceived a general purpose computer that he called the Analytical Machine, and Ada saw that this was programmable, and could be used for anything, even composing music. She published a paper in 1843. In Note G of that paper, she laid out, step by step, an algorithm that could be used to compute Bernoulli numbers. She showed the use of subroutines and a recursive loop. So she has to be considered the first computer programmer. But she also had a vision that computers would be used for so much more than calculating numbers. She thought that they could be used for nearly everything.

Mr. Isaacson continues to tell the story of individuals with brilliant ideas, and more importantly the groups of hard-working people, lead by somebody with ideas, but supported by people who could take those ideas and make them work. The collaboration factor seemed to be one of the most important parts of a successful project. Mr. Isaacson stresses that without a varied group most of the advances in hardware or software couldn’t have happened.

Another topic that runs though Mr. Isaacson’s book is the vision and “thinking-outside-the-box” that women contributed to the development of IT. Starting with Ada Lovelace, and continuing with the women who figured out the code and connected the wires that allowed some of the early computers to run. One of these women, Grace Hopper, ended up writing the first computer guide and programming manual for the Harvard Mark I computer. Most of the programmers were women, while most of the hardware people were men.

Once the book hit the fifties and sixties, everything was much more familiar. I lived through these events. I had taken college level programming classes in the late sixties. I knew what batch processing and punch-cards were all about. I understood the ideas and events. Not as history, but as memories. So The Innovators really hit home.

Mr. Isaacson is a great researcher and writer. He tells the story behind the facts. Teamwork is the best way to further knowledge, but your team needs diversity to be truly successful.

I give The Innovators 5 Stars out of 5, and a Big Thumbs Up! If you have any interest in what shapes the technology that controls the world around you, and how it came to be, you should read this book.

I received this book for free from edelweiss and the publisher, Simon & Schuster, in return for an honest review.


Book Description

innovators-9781476708690_hrFollowing his blockbuster biography of Steve Jobs, The Innovators is Walter Isaacson’s revealing story of the people who created the computer and the Internet. It is destined to be the standard history of the digital revolution and an indispensable guide to how innovation really happens.

What were the talents that allowed certain inventors and entrepreneurs to turn their visionary ideas into disruptive realities? What led to their creative leaps? Why did some succeed and others fail?

In his masterly saga, Isaacson begins with Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter, who pioneered computer programming in the 1840s. He explores the fascinating personalities that created our current digital revolution, such as Vannevar Bush, Alan Turing, John von Neumann, J.C.R. Licklider, Doug Engelbart, Robert Noyce, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Tim Berners-Lee, and Larry Page.

This is the story of how their minds worked and what made them so inventive. It’s also a narrative of how their ability to collaborate and master the art of teamwork made them even more creative.

For an era that seeks to foster innovation, creativity, and teamwork, The Innovators shows how they happen.


Book Details

Hardcover: 560 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (October 7, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 147670869X
ISBN-13: 978-1476708690
Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.7 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds


About the Author

Photograph by Patrice Gilbert
Photograph by Patrice Gilbert

Walter Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute, has been chairman of CNN and the managing editor of Time magazine. He is the author of Steve Jobs; Einstein: His Life and Universe; Benjamin Franklin: An American Life; and Kissinger: A Biography, and the coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made. He lives in Washington, DC. – See more at:

Book Description and Details from Amazon.  The Innovators



A Review of Ship It Holla Ballas! by Jonathan Grotenstein & Storms Reback

Ship It Holla Ballas!Ship It Holla Ballas!:

How a Bunch of 19-Year-Old College Dropouts Used the Internet to Become Poker’s Loudest, Craziest, and Richest Crew

by Jonathan Grotenstein, Storms Reback

This the true story of a few teenagers who are used to playing video games on their computers. These guys are able to convert that experience, along with their knowledge of how to get the most out of the internet into a ton of cash. This is a story of what they did, not a “How to Win at Online Poker” book. The book is about their lives as they found out that they could win a lot of money playing Texas Hold’em on the various online poker web sites. They got together in online forums and discovered that other guys were doing the same. They discussed winning and losing strategies in these forums. They made even more money.

This is their story of over the top wins and jaw dropping losses. Most of these guys were barely out of high school and were pulling in thousands of dollars a week, so they were going nuts with their instant riches. They were living like rock stars.

This is also the story of how they moved from a loose knit group of online gamblers to the real world of poker. How they played in the big poker tournaments that were being broadcast on cable in 2004 – 8. How some of them hit bottom and how some of them are still winning today.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I can relate to these guys, even though I never played online poker. I have played Texas hold’em with friends, but I don’t consider myself a gambler. I do use a computer, have played some computer games, and have been on a few forums and discussion boards, so all of the concepts in this book feel quite real and possible.

I give this book a big double thumbs up and 5 stars out of 5. This is more of a guy’s book, there is a lot of drinking, going to strip clubs, and way over the top party descriptions, that may be offensive to many people. It is now illegal to play online poker for real money in the United States, but many countries still allow it.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Book Description

Release Date: January 15, 2013

Who were the Ship It Holla Ballas?

Arguably the most successful poker crew of all time, they took advantage of the online poker boom to win tens of millions of dollars before most of them were old enough to set foot inside a casino. Then they did what any red-blooded teenagers with mountains of cash and no responsibilities would do: They partied like rock stars, transforming themselves from Internet nerds with zero life skills into legends, at least in their own minds.

In Ship It Holla Ballas!, Jonathan Grotenstein and Storms Reback trace the rise and fall of Internet poker through the eyes of its most unlikely stars: A group of teenage college dropouts, united by social media, who bluffed their way to the top of the game.

Product Details

Hardcover: 320 pages

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (January 15, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1250006651

ISBN-13: 978-1250006653

Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches

Shipping Weight: 1 pounds

About the Authors

Jonathan Grotenstein is a reasonably successful author and ghost-writer (read: working), less-than-successful screenwriter, and recovering professional poker player.

After spending much of the ’90s on an Internet thrill ride, Grotenstein realized he could make a far more honest living at the poker table, where there’s no need to suspect that everyone is lying to make a buck. (They are.) He succeeded more than he failed, but quickly discovered that he could achieve significantly more consistent results as a poker-playing writer than a writing poker player.

In 2004, he and Phil Gordon co-authored “Poker: The Real Deal,” which became, thanks to a lack of any serious competition at the time, one of the best-selling poker books in history. Grotenstein collaborated with Gordon on two sequels, ghost-wrote “Online Ace” for poker pro Scott Fischman, then teamed up with Storms Reback to write “All In: The (Almost) Entirely True History of the World Series of Poker.” He contributed (and, in some cases, donated) dozens of articles to the poker magazine “All In” and primers on poker and blackjack for the Lonely Planet’s guide to Las Vegas.

He has also authored several feature-film screenplays, a couple of which have actually generated significant interest. (Translation: numerous time-consuming meetings, note sessions and extensive rewrites, adding up to approximately $700 in material compensation.) He played the not-at-all-pivotal role of “Poker Dealer,” opposite the late, great Patrick Swayze, in an episode of A&E’s “The Beast.”

Grotenstein resides in Pasadena with his wife and two sons, where, when he’s not toiling away at his crappy novel, he continues to ghost-write for TV stars, NFL veterans, celebrity dog trainers, and the occasional fictional character. His current project, “Ship It Holla Balla!” — the true story of a group of teenagers who made ridiculous money and even more ridiculous life-decisions during the late ’00s online poker boom — will be published by St. Martin’s Press in 2012.

Storms Reback is the author of two books, “All In: The (Almost) Entirely True History of the World Series of Poker” and “Farha on Omaha: Expert Strategy for Beating Cash Games and Tournaments.”

His current project, “Ship It Holla Ballas!” — the true story of a group of online poker players who, during the late ’00s Poker Boom, made ridiculous money (and even more ridiculous life decisions) before they were even old enough to drink — will be published by St. Martin’s Press in 2013.

The product descriptions and author information is from Amazon. Ship It Holla Ballas!