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Making the world work better book

Making the World Work Better

The Ideas that Shaped a Century and a Company

In Making the World Work Better: The Ideas That Shaped a Century and a Company, journalists Kevin Maney, Steve Hamm and Jeffrey M. O’Brien examine how IBM has contributed to the evolution of technology and the modern corporation over the past 100 years.

The authors offer a fresh analysis, as well as interviews of many key figures and rich archival photographs and drawings. The book captures triumphs, missteps and moments of high drama—from the bet-the-business gamble on the legendary System/360 in the 1960s, to the turnaround of the 1990s, to the new frontiers of a smarter planet.

The authors have shaped a narrative of discoveries, struggles, individual insights and lasting impact on technology, business and society. Taken together, their essays reveal a distinctive mindset and organizational culture, animated by a deeply held commitment to the hard work of progress.

Making the World Work Better provides a deep dive into many of the achievements celebrated in IBM’s Icons of Progress:

  • It shows how IBM engineers and scientists invented many of the building blocks of modern information technology, including the memory chip, the mainframe, the personal computer and even new fields of mathematics. This story points to the future of science, and of thinking itself.
  • We learn how IBM’s business innovations-from progressive workforce policies, to new ideas of societal responsibility, to global engagement, to the deliberate creation of corporate culture—shaped the modern corporation.
  • We also see how IBM’s big bets—including enablement of the US Social Security System, space travel, modern banking and more—made a lasting impact on our world, and laid out a path to progress the company is still pursuing today.

The lessons for all businesses and institutions are powerful: To survive and succeed over a long period, you have to be willing and able to continually transform, guided by enduring values and a broadly understood identity. Over a century of change, IBM came into being, grew, went global, nearly died, transformed itself… and is now charting a new path forward, embracing a second century that bids to be even more surprising than its first.

About the Authors:

  • Steve Hamm

    Steve Hamm

    Steve Hamm has been a journalist for 30 years. Before joining IBM’s corporate communications department as a writer and videographer, he was a senior writer at BusinessWeek and spent two decades covering the computer industry, first in Silicon Valley and then in New York. He is the author of Bangalore Tiger and The Race for Perfect. He lives in Pelham, New York, with his wife and son.

  • Kevin Maney

    Kevin Maney

    Kevin Maney is the author of Trade-Off: Why Some Things Catch On, and Others Don't, The Maverick and His Machine: Thomas Watson Sr. and the Making of IBM and Megamedia Shakeout. He was a reporter, editor and columnist at USA Today for 22 years and a contributing editor at Conde Nast Portfolio. He has been a contributor to Fortune and Wired magazines, The Atlantic, NPR and ABC News. He lives in Centreville, Virginia.

  • Jeffrey M. O'Brien

    Jeffrey M. O'Brien

    Jeffrey M. O'Brien has worked as a senior editor at Fortune and Wired magazines. His work as a writer and an editor has appeared in The Best of Technology Writing, The Best American Science and Nature Writing and The Best American Science Writing. He is a graduate of Syracuse University's SI Newhouse School of Public Communications and was a 2006 Templeton-Cambridge Fellow in Science & Religion at University of Cambridge. He lives with his wife and two sons in San Francisco.