The Maverick And His Machine: Thomas Watson Sr. And The Making Of Ibm (was Before: Watson Sr., Ibm And The First Emperor Of The Information Industry)

Kevin Maney

Wiley, 2003

Agent: Sandra Dijkstra

The first complete look at one of America's legendary business leaders This groundbreaking biography by Kevin Maney, acclaimed technology columnist for USA Today, offers fresh insight and new information on one of the twentieth century's greatest business figures. Over the course of forty-two years, Thomas J. Watson took a failing business called The Computer-Tabulating-Recording Company and transformed it into IBM, the world's first and most famous high-tech company. The Maverick and His Machine is the first modern biography of this business titan. Maney secured exclusive access to hundreds of boxes of Watson's long-forgotten papers, and he has produced the only complete picture of Watson the man and Watson the legendary business leader. These uncovered documents reveal new information about how Watson bet the company in the 1920s on tabulating machines-the forerunners to computers-and how he daringly beat the Great Depression of the 1930s. The documents also lead to new insights concerning the controversy that has followed Watson: his suppos ed coll usion with Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime.

Maney paints a vivid portrait of Watson, uncovers his motivations, and offers needed context on his mammoth role in the course of modern business history. Jim Collins, author of the bestsellers Good to Great and Built to Last, writes in the Foreword to Maney's book: "Leaders like Watson are like forces of nature-almost terrifying in their release of energy and unpredictable volatility, but underneath they still adhere to certain patterns and principles. The patterns and principles might be hard to see amidst the melee, but they are there nonetheless. It takes a gifted person of insight to highlight those patterns, and that is exactly what Kevin Maney does in this book."

The Maverick and His Machine also includes never-before-published photos of Watson from IBM's archives, showing Watson in greater detail than any book ever has before. Essential reading for every businessperson, tech junkie, and IBM follower, the book is also full of the kind of personal detail and reconstructed events that make it a page-turning story for general readers. The Maverick and the Machine is poised to be one of the most important business biographies in years.

“A…lively and nuanced picture of the senior Watson can be found in Kevin Maney's excellent new biography… [The Maverick and His Machine]  brings this complex man to life and provides a clearer sense of how the I.B.M. culture took shape around one man's quirks, preferences and iron whims…For those who loved ‘Father, Son & Co.,’ this is an essential and readable companion book. Call it ‘I.B.M.: The Prequel.’”
New York Times

“Informative, insightful and easy to read, The Maverick and his Machine is a chronicle of the life and times of ‘The Maverick’ as he built IBM from the ground up, basically with his bare hands…Maney's book is an excellent read. Easy, entertaining and enlightening, the 450-page book never bores, and paints a candid, balanced picture of the man who founded IBM.... Anyone with an interest in IBM or the early days of the computer industry will appreciate Maney's contribution to the literature.”
China Post
“Maney, a reporter for USA Today, scored an amazing coup: He is the first writer to have gained access to the Watson papers in IBM's archives… he uses this treasure trove to provide one of the most complete and lively accounts of an industrialist who helped pioneer the information-technology industry and created an institution that changed the world… Maney has written a timely and authoritative biography. Without lapsing into hero worship, he presents a great, if flawed, man in all his humanity.”
Business Week
“[A] genuine page-turner, thanks to the unprecedented access that Kevin Maney, a respected technology journalist, was given to IBM's archives….Watson is brought to life as a charismatic, irascible and vain man, prone to spouting lengthy sermons, and with a narcissistic weakness for flattery and ceremony....[R]ecommended reading for anyone who seriously wants to be a business mogul.”
The Economist

“IBM for decades had a distinct corporate personality, and the leader in driving that culture was Thomas Watson, Sr. Other books have described this irascible man, yet, this biography by a technology journalist uses recently discovered and wonderfully detailed corporate logbooks to flesh out his contradictory persona…the author’s delightful anecdotes showcase the quirky, human side of what became a major knowledge-based company.”
Harvard Business Review