Something strange happened on our planet recently. Bipedal primates assembled modified rocks and sand to create computers and then invented an internet to run on them. Every government wants to understand how they did it, with the self-declared alpha primates – Vladimir Putin and the Chinese dictators – anxious to make sure the next stages operate under their control.
But that’s not going to happen, at least according to Walter Isaacson in his nearly perfect history of the men – and occasionally women – who created these hi-tech marvels. That is because Putin and the Chinese government tend to follow the Alastair Campbell school of managerial effectiveness, where one screams hysterically and threatens people in order to get what one wants done.
The creators of the computer and the internet, however, were almost always – with the one giant exception of Steve Jobs, whom we’ll come to later – far nicer men than that. This was a strength, not a weakness. Consider three individuals who were working at one of the first