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Competing for the Future: How Digital Innovations are Changing the World n Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521862905
ISBN-10: 0521862906
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Drawing on a lifetime of experience in the industry, the authors offer some answers and also explain how the industry base can flourish against lower wage competition."
-Abstracts of Public Administration, Development, and Environment

Book Description

How many of us really understand the drivers behind the recent revolution in digital technology? Drawing on a life time's experience in the industry, Henry Kressel explains how the technology works, why it matters, how it is financed and what the key lessons are for public policy.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 422 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; n edition (April 16, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521862906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521862905
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,047,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Peter D. Scovell on April 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Dr Kressel has captured the disruptions in society caused by fundamental shifts in the technology base dating from 1948 with the invention of the transistor and culminating in the recent emergence of IP networks as the dominant technological force behind our data and communications network. The early chapters deal with the history and impact of these important technologies and for those readers with a need to understand these technologies in greater detail, appendices are provided that take those interested into a journey of discovery into the important fundamental technology discontinuities such as Integrated Circuits, their scalability and limits, logic gates, semiconductor memories, semiconductor lasers and LEDs, photodetectors, fiber optics, and LCD displays which are used throughout the networks of today. These early parts of the book also point out the importance of the protocols that are used to transport data as well as the underpinning software methods that are used to build the networks without which engineers would not have been able to build today's Internet. Again, appendices are provided on these topics for the enquiring reader.

The book takes the reader through the early technology shifts that have enabled the knowledge economy and the author has mapped these changes to very basic but nonetheless revolutionary shifts in software, semiconductors, wireless and fiber optics. These dislocations taken together with the emergence of the venture capital industry and the entrepreneurial spirit fostered in the technology centers in Silicon valley and elsewhere, provided the mix for the revolutionary data networks to emerge which would have far reaching societal changes in later years.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the interest of full disclosure, I have had the opportunity to work with Dr Henry Kressel on a variety of Warburg Pincus engagements since 1990. I attended MIT from 1964-1972, and learned first hand how many companies were started by MIT alums, such as Bose (by Amar Bose), Analog Devices (by Ray Stata), and DEC (by Ken Olsen), as well as seeing my classmate Bob Metcalfe create the most widely used network technology today, Ethernet (akin to the electrical power outlet), and then 3Com. While at Bell Laboratories, I saw the advent of UNIX, the rise of DARPANet leading to the network of networks or Internet, the advent of local area networks (I represented ATT on Project 802 Local Area Network Standards) which permitted networks of computers to share printers, storage, and network access as if they were a single computer. I was involved with the original funding of Ciena, the first commercially successful optical transmission equipment vendor, with moving Uniphase into telecomms to create JDSUniphase as a vendor of optical components and modules, and Covad, one of the first data only Competitive Local Exchange Carriers. With that as backdrop, I found the book to be full of insights, driven by excellent data analysis: good analysis leads to surprising insights, and I found many of them throughout.

The discussion of financial innovation and the mechanisms to commercialize the technical innovations is in my view without equal and is worth the entire book (and the other sections are outstanding!
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Format: Hardcover
"Competing for the Future" is a thought provoking journey through digital electronics starting with the transistor and laser, proceeding through computers, fiber optics and the internet, and ending with a prescription for the future prosperity of the United States that includes technology innovation, risk capital and advanced manufacturing. It is fascinating as Dr. Kressel examines the interactions between the technological innovations themselves, the source of the R&D as it moved from US industrial labs to world-wide start-ups, the funding of the R&D as it evolved in parallel, the tight coupling between R&D and advanced manufacturing, and the role of governments.

Dr. Kressel provides a unique perspective because he is walking this road. He helped create the digital electronics age while he was at RCA Labs with his pioneering work in lasers. After a successful career there, he moved to Warburg Pincus where he funded many of today's successful digital electronics startups. His hands-on experience and lively anecdotes bring the book to life.

This book is "required reading" for anyone who wants to understand the future of hi-tech innovation and what that future might hold for the United States and for the world.
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Format: Hardcover
In Competing for the Future, Dr. Henry Kressel takes us through a fascinating journey, from the invention of a few basic digital technologies to the birth and growth of the digital age.

As a starting point, Dr. kressel introduces us to semiconductor technologies and devices. It takes an exceptional mastery of the field to summarize the physical basis of digital electronics in a few key concepts, and Dr. Kressel, a physicist by training, manages that feat. He goes beyond the technologies themselves and expands on the history of their development; how and why they came about. With this foundation in place, Dr. Kressel takes us to the next leg of the journey, namely how these new electronics enabled the development of new computing, networking and communications systems.

How did these revolutionary technologies turn into new industries? This is the subject of the second half of the book, in which the author discusses the industrialization and globalization of R&D, the development of new manufacturing processes and finally, venture capital financing of product launches and company build-ups.

Competing for the Future exposes the complexity of the overall innovation process. Dr. Kressel writes with the wisdom, insight and experience of someone who not only took part in, but was very successful at, all the steps of that process. His experiences as a physicist, manufacturing manager, leader of an R&D organization and venture capitalist, give him a very clear overall picture and a unique ability to show how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together.

Competing for the Future provides a timely and comprehensive analysis of the innovation process, and of the various forces shaping the digital age.
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