Walter Isaacson

October 13, 2014 - Walter Isaacson 10/13/2014 Views: 10,797

"The Innovators" author Walter Isaacson discusses the history of the computer, the importance of hackers and the blurry line between collaboration and intellectual piracy. (6:36)

>> STEPHEN: WELCOMEBACK, EVERYBODY!

MY GUEST TONIGHT HAS A NEWBOOK CALLED "THE INNOVATORS"

ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THECOMPUTER.

IN THE EARLY DAYS, YOU HAD TOWATCH PORNOGRAPHY ON PUNCH

CARDS.

PLEASE WELL COME WALTERISAACSON!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

WALTER, THANKS FOR COMING BACK!

NO NEED TO GET UP.

YOU'RE ONE OF MY MORE IMPRESSIVEGUESTS -- AND I'VE HAD

PRESIDENTS AND POPES ON HERE.

YOU'RE THE C.E.O. OF THE ASPENINSTITUTE, WHICH MEANS YOU'RE A

BOND VILLIAN, FORMER CHAIRMAN OFCNN, FORMER EDITOR OF "TIME

MAGAZINE," WRITTEN ABOUT STEVEJOBS, EINSTEIN, BEN FRANKLIN,

AND YOU HAVE A NEW BOOK CALLED"THE INNOVATORS," HOW A GROUP OF

HACKERS, GENIUSES AND GEEKSCREATED THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION.

HOW DO YOU DIFFERENTIATE BETWEENHACKERS AND GENIUSES AND GEEKS?

>> A HACKER HAS A WHOLE LOT OFFUN.

WE SORT OF MISUSE THE WORDHACKER TODAY.

>> STEPHEN: THEY'RE DANGEROUSPEOPLE, LIKE CYBERTERRORISTS,

AREN'T THEY?

>> NO, THEY KNOW HOW TO DOPRANKS AND SHORT CUTS ON

COMPUTERS.

I'M TRYING TO RESURRECT THEIDENTITY OF HACKERS.

AND GENIUSES, YOU KNOW WHAT AGENIUS IS.

>> STEPHEN: IT'S THAT GUY WHOSHAVES ME EVERY MORNING.

>> AND GEEKS.

>> STEPHEN: WE TALKIN DWEEBS?NERDLINGERS?

YEAH, AND THEY COULD TAKE OVERTHE WORLD. IT'S A COOL THING

THE GEEKS ARE GONNA INHERIT THEEARTH.

>> STEPHEN: OKAY, SO NOW STEVEJOBS IS ON THE COVER.

LET'S SEE WHO'S ON HERE.

STEVE JOBS IS ON THE COVER, THENBILL GATES, ALAN TOURING DOWN

THERE?

AND THEN YOU'VE GOT LIKE A NAKEDLADY UP THERE.

IS THAT CHERYL SANDBERG?

>> CHERYL SANDBERG'S PATRONSAINT.

>> STEPHEN: ADA LOVELACE.

YES!

>> STEPHEN: WE'RE HUGE ADALOVELACE FANS AT THE REPORT.

WHO IS SHE AND WHY DO I LOVEHER?

>> SHE WAS LORD BYRON'S DAUGHTERBUT HER MOM DIDN'T WANT HER TO

BECOME A ROMANTIC POET, IF YOUKNEW LORD BYRON YOU'D

UNDERSTOOD.

>> STEPHEN: 'SHE WALKS IN BEAUTYLIKE THE NIGHT,' YES

>> VERY GOOD.>> STEPHEN: GENIUS.

BUT SHE FELT THAT-- NO, NO, NO...

(LAUGHTER)BUT SHE FELT THAT HER MOTHER

WANTED HER TO BE A GREATMATHEMATICIAN, HAD HER TUTORED

MAINLY IN MATH AND SHE COMBINEDPOETRY --

>> STEPHEN: DID THE LADIES DOTHAT BACK THEN IN THE 1840s?

>> NOT OFTEN, BUT THAT'S ASHAME, BECAUSE ADA LOVELACE WAS

A PIONEERING MATHEMATICIAN ANDSHE HAS A FRIEND CHARLES BABBAGE

MAKING A CALCULATING MACHINE ANDADA SEES THE PUNCH CARD DOING

THE MECHANICAL LOOMS ANDBEAUTIFUL TAPESTRY AND SHE

SAYS WITH BABBAGE'S MACHINE, YOUCOULD USE PUNCH CARDS THAT

WOULDN'T JUST DO NUMBERS, ITCOULD DO WORDS AND MUSIC AND

ART AND COMES UP WITH THECONCEPT OF THE GENERAL COMPUTER,

WHICH IS VERY COOL.

>> STEPHEN: HOW MUCH OF THISBOOK IS JUST SOMETHING THAT

WOULDN'T FIT INTO STEVE JOBSBIOGRAPHY?

YOU SAY DAMN IT, I'M GOING TOTAKE A VACATION AND BIND IT UP

PUT IT BETWEEN TWO COVERS ANDCALL IT SOMETHING ELSE.

>> WELL IT IS THE STORY OFHOW STEVE JOBS HAPPENED.

HE DOESN'T HAPPEN IN A VACCUUM.IT'S ALL THE THINGS

THAT LED UP TO HIM AND ALL THETHINGS THAT CAME OUT.

>> STEPHEN: WHAT DO YOU MEAN?

STEVE JOBS, HE'S ONE OF THEGREAT INNOVATORS.

>> HE IS ABSOLUTELY A GREATINNOVATOR.

ONE OF THE THINGS I FOUNDINTERESTING ABOUT STEVE IS WE

THINK OF HIM AS SORT OF A GREATSINGULAR ROMANTIC HERO.

>> STEPHEN: HIM IN A GARAGE,RIGHT?

HIM IN A GARAGE.

BUT ACTUALLY, HE'S GOOD ATFORMING TEAMS.

EVEN THOUGH HE'S A PRETTY STRONGTOUGH LEADER, HE BUILDS LOYAL

TEAMS AROUND HIM AND ONE OF THETHEMES OF THE BOOK IS IT'S NOT

JUST THE LONE INVENTER SITTINGIN THE GARAGE HAVING A LIGHT

BULB MOMENT, IT'S PEOPLE THATCAN ACTUALLY EXECUTE.

VISION WITHOUT EXECUTION IS JUSTHALLUCINATION.

STEVE ISRABLE TO SIT THERE INHIS GARAGE WITH WOZNIAK AND

OTHERS AND FORM THE COOLESTTEAM.

>> STEPHEN: SO THE GREATESTINNOVATIONS ARE COMING ABOUT

WITH PEOPLE WORKING TOGETHER.

>> COLLABORATION AND TEAMWORK.

>> STEPHEN: HOW COME THERE'SONLY ONE NAME ON THIS, AND IT'S

WALTER ISAACSON, OKAY?

(APPLAUSE)>> I WILL TELL A STORY WHICH IS,

WHEN I WAS DOING THIS, I WASTHINKING ABOUT COLLABORATION,

WHICH IS WHY THE INTERNET WASINVENTED, SO I TOOK CHAPTERS OF

THIS BOOK AND PUT THEM ONVARIOUS TYPE OF WIKI SITES

ONLINE WHERE PEOPLE COULD PUTMANY OF THEIR STORIES SO MANY OF

THE STORIES IN THE BOOK CAMEFROM AN INTERNET COLLABORATION,

THE PEOPLE LIKE DAN BURKLANDWHO DID VISICAL SAID HERE'S HOW

WE DID IT, SO I PUT THAT IN THEBOOK, BUT I GOT TO PUT MY NAME

ON IT(LAUGHTER)

STEPHEN: NICE WORK IF YOU CANGET IT

NO, AT SOME POINT WE'LL HAVE TOMAKE IT COLLABORATIVE, BUT THERE

ARE GREAT LONE GENIUSES ANDVISIONARIES, NOT ME, BUT I WROTE

ABOUT EINSTEIN. YOURSELF

>> STEPHEN: BETWEEN GATES ANDJOBS BECAUSE THEY'RE THE TWO

TOWERING FIGURES OF OUR MODERNTECHNOLOGICAL AGE, WHO IS

ACTUALLY THE NICE GUY?

OR ARE THEY BOTH?

>> THEY'RE BOTH GENIUSES INTHEIR OWN WAY.

STEVE JOBS IS VERY INTUITIVE,HAD A SENSE OF BEAUTY, HAD AN

INTUITIVE FEEL TO MAKE PROJECTSGORGEOUS.

BILL GATES IS ONE OF THE GREATBUSINESSMEN AND BUILT A GREAT

CORPORATION AND ALSO AGREAT SOFTWARE CODER.

JOBS WAS NEVER REALLY A SOFTWAREENGINEER.

>> STEPHEN: I HEARD THEY STOLEIDEAS FROM OTHER PEOPLE, THOUGH.

WHO WAS THE BIGGER PIRATE?

>> STEVE JOBS PUT A PIRATE FLAGON TOP OF THE ORIGINAL MCINTOSH

BUILDING AND SAID GOOD ARTISTSBORROW, GREAT ARTISTS STEAL.

BUT EVERYONE TOOK IDEAS FROMEACH OTHER AND THAT'S A PROBLEM.

YOU COLLABORATE, YOU TAKE IDEAS.STEVE JOBS TOOK THEM FROM XEROX.

AND BILL GATES TOOK THE GRAPHICINTERFACE WE HAVE ON COMPUTERS

THE TRASH CANS AND ICONS FROMSEEING THE ORIGINAL MCINTOSH.

>> STEPHEN: AND I UNDERSTAND ALOT OF HIS BOOK WAS WRITTEN ON

WIKIPEDIA.

>> EXACTLY, AND THAT'S THE GOODTHING ABOUT COPY AND PASTE

IT'S ONE OF THE GREAT INVENTIONSOF OUR TIME

>> STEPHEN: WELL WALTER, THANKSSO MUCH. WALTER ISAACSON,

THE BOOK IS "THE INNOVATORS"!WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK!