Entrepreneurs launching or growing digital businesses can find inspiration from the pioneers of the internet. Here is a list of books on the origins of today’s leading digital platforms and ecommerce businesses.
Histories of the Internet, Ecommerce
Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet by Katie Hafner
“Where Wizards Stay Up Late” is about the birth and early years of the internet. Beginning in the 1960s, J.C.R. Licklider at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a gang of computer scientists used funds of the U.S. Department of Defense to work on a “galactic network” of nationwide, interlocking computers. Follow the development of the ideas, work, and accidents that became the internet.
“Weaving the Web” is a first-hand account of the creation of the World Wide Web, the primary information management system of the internet, by its creator and author of the first version of HTML, Tim Berners-Lee. Follow his account of the creation of www, get insights on how to use it fully, and explore ideas on its future.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
By Walter Isaacson, “Steve Jobs” explores the life and character of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple and creative entrepreneur who revolutionized personal computers, tablet computing, mobile phones, animated movies, and more. The book is based on over 40 interviews with Steve Jobs over two years. This book inspired the movie of the same name.
Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age by Michael A. Hiltzik
“Dealers of Lightning” details the history of the Palo Alto Research Center created by the Xerox Corporation. In the 1970s and 1980s, PARC’s computer engineers began a series of remarkable innovations, including the first personal computer, the laser printer, and the graphical interface. Discover why Xerox could never exploit the innovations of PARC and follow the determined inventors who eventually found success.
Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution by Steven Levy
By Steven Levy, “Hackers” follows the computer revolution’s original hackers and foundational engineers, from the computer labs of the 1950s to the creation of the home computer in the early 1980s. This 25th-anniversary edition contains updated material from pioneering hackers Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Stallman, and Steve Wozniak.
Troublemakers: Silicon Valley’s Coming of Age by Leslie Berlin
“Troublemakers,” by Leslie Berlin, is the story of the pioneers of Silicon Valley in the 1970s and early 1980s, when five significant industries were born in only seven years: personal computing, video games, biotechnology, modern venture capital, and advanced semiconductor logic. Follow the stories of seven exceptional individuals who rewrote the rules and created the future.
One-Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com by Richard L. Brandt
“One-Click” tracks the rise of Jeff Bezos, from computer nerd to one of the most disruptive and influential entrepreneurs of the digital age, and the success of Amazon. Through interviews with Amazon employees, competitors, and industry experts, Bradt explores how Bezos makes decisions and how Amazon reinvented ecommerce.
The Innovators by Walter Isaacson
“The Innovators,” by Walter Isaacson, is a history of the digital revolution and a guide to innovation. Isaason’s account begins with Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter, who pioneered computer programming in the 1840s. He then profiles the innovators who created the digital revolution of our time, including 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.
iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It by Steve Wozniak and Gina Smith
“iWoz” is an autobiography of Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple. Follow the life and times of this “computer geek,” college dropout, and designer of the Apple II, the first personal computer to appeal to consumers beyond hobbyist computer clubs. Get a first-hand account of his partnership with Steve Jobs and the birth of Apple.
Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built by Duncan Clark
“Alibaba” follows the career of Jack Ma, from his humble beginnings as an English teacher to the founder of one of the world’s largest ecommerce companies. Learn how Alibaba and its creator have transformed Chinese consumers and built a legitimate competitor to the giants of Silicon Valley. Explore the past, present, and future of Alibaba and China’s economic explosion.
The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World by David Kirkpatrick
“The Facebook Effect” is an inside story of the massive social network, from dorm room novelty to 3 billion monthly active users. With the cooperation of Facebook executives, author David Kirkpatrick chronicles the company’s origin and its successes and missteps. He also provides an extensive look at Mark Zuckerberg, who refused to compromise his vision and successfully put growth before profit.
In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy
“In the Plex,” by Steven Levy, is the inside story on the origin and success of Google, the search company so pervasive that its name is a verb. Levy explores the keys to Google’s success, such as its adoption of speed, experimentation, and risk-taking. Levy also explores Google’s rocky relationship with government regulators and its failures, such as its initiatives in China and social networking.