American Innovation Reads

Some materials about successful industrial/applied research labs. I recommend all of them.

Dealers of Lightning. The definitive book about PARC.

Inside PARC: the ‘information’ architects (IEEE Spectrum, Oct 1985). Good article about PARC.

Interview with Bob Taylor (and another), who ran the PARC CS Lab.

The Idea Factory. The definitive book about Bell Labs. (There should be more…)

The Art of Doing Science and Engineering. Only indirectly about Bell Labs but so good that you should read it anyway.

Tuxedo Park. Book about the MIT Rad Lab, among other things. (Also worth reading Endless Frontier. Broader influence of NDRC is underestimated, as far as I can tell.)

MIT’s Building 20: “The Magical Incubator”. Transcript of a talk about Building 20.

Funding Breakthrough Research: Promises and Challenges of the “ARPA Model”. An analysis of what the ARPA model is and why it might work.

The Dream Machine. Book about ARPA, Licklider, and the creation of the internet.

The Power of the Context. Alan Kay’s reflections on ARPA and PARC.

The Making of the Atomic Bomb. Book about the Manhattan Project.

Skunk Works. The Lockheed Martin facility behind the U-2, SR-71, etc. (See also: Kelly Johnson’s 14 Rules, Kelly Johnson’s own memoir, Augustine’s Laws, Boyd, and National Defense.)

Organizing Genius: an exploration of commonalities across the Manhattan Project, Black Mountain College, Skunk Works, etc. Demis from DeepMind commented that it accords with how he manages the company.

Sidewinder. A history of the development of the Sidewinder missile and of the China Lake Navy research lab.

Scene of Change. Personal account from Rockefeller Foundation’s Warren Weaver. (Worked with Bush at NDRC during WWII; helped fund Green Revolution; funded most of the Nobel-winning molecular biologists.) Worth a quick skim—some good passages.

Alvarez: Adventures Of A Physicist. Luis Alvarez’s first-hand account of participating in the development of GCA, radar, and the Manhattan Project.

Doing the Impossible. How George Mueller managed the Apollo Program