Five innovation stories that make for fascinating reading

What is common to the emergence of the Longitude system, Internet, Computers and Information Technology, Supercomputers, Biotech and development of battery technology? Well, in addition to revolutionising economic activity, creating entire new industries and changing the way we live, they have also been written up as very engaging and readable books.

Providing a glimpse into the world of R&D, commercialisation and Venture Capital, these books offer several insights for those grappling with similar challenges in emerging industries such as IoT. I’ve listed the following five books that I found to provide interesting perspectives on R&D, technology development and commercialization and capture the human drama inherent in such high-stakes initiatives.

  1. Longitude by Dava Sobel — charts the history of the search for a solution of how to calculate longitude to help navigate ships at sea.
  2. Supermen by Charles J Murray — story of the origin of Cray Research, the Super Computing pioneer.
  3. Dealers of lightning by Michael Hiltzik — story of Xerox PARC, the world class R&D unit of Xerox, that developed several path-breaking computing technologies including the internet, mouse and a graphical user interface (GUI).
  4. Invisible Frontiers by Stephen S Hall —describes the race to synthesize a human gene by competing teams from Harvard University, the University of California-San Francisco, and a team of scientists at Genentech, the biotech start-up.
  5. The Powerhouse by Steve Levine — charts the race currently underway to develop the next generation battery technology to revolutionise the energy sector.

I’m constantly on the lookout for similar books and will provide an update to this list in due course.