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Inventing the Electronic Century: The Epic Story of the Consumer Electronics and Computer Industries, with a new preface (Harvard Studies in Business History) Paperback – April 4, 2005
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Offers a rich cast of characters and companies, compelling stories, and deep understanding of economic forces. (Hal Varian, School of Information Management and Systems, University of California, Berkeley)
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After World War 2 arose electronic computers. As opposed to earlier electromechnical gizmos. Chandler goes over the crucial inventions - the transistor, integrated circuit and microprocessor. And how decades of Moore's Law have driven these industries into everyday life.
But sections of his book are jarring. These concern the growth of the Japanese electronics and computer companies. They purport to show how these companies grew to dominance in various market sectors, like memory. There is a distinct tone that they outdid their US counterparts, with deeper strategy and Japanese government assistance. While this book is printed in 2005, the tone completely neglects the 16 year stagnation in the Japanese economy. Including their technology companies.
The book gives a few pages to describing Korean and Taiwanese companies, up to around 2000. There is no update to 2004-5. Which would say that the Koreans (Samsung) have grown hugely in memory. Certainly more so than the Japanese. Yes, in the 80s, Japan forced most US companies out of memory. But memory has proven to be a very fickle boom and bust market. Low profit margins over time. Chandler sees the Japanese "takeover" of memory as evidence of good planning and national industrial policy. But if anything, it is evidence of the contrary.
While in consumer electronics, Samsung has also grown far stronger than Sony or Hitachi or ...Read more ›
The subject is very complex, specially if we look at the technology involved. My major comment is: the author has a limited technical knowledge and this has limited the depth of his analyses, comments and conclusions. This does not invalidate the major conclusions that he has presented in this book.
I think that it would be interesting to expand the story told in this book by studying/describing the evolution of the whole envinronment around these industries, including the engineering schools and research institutes that supply the brains to develop all the technology involved.
The history of the electronics industry carry an important lesson, about concentration of skills and economic power in only one company (RCA). It was a good thing, while RCA was leading, but when it started to make major strategic mistakes it brought down the whole American Industry. The Japanese Industry used several companies to compete against American and European Companies, this created a whole envinronment, that included engineering schools, research facilities, several different companies where one could make a career and different ideas being tested and pursued at the same time. When you look at the capacity of inovation and development of new technologies of the japanese companies and their envinronment they were a lot more competitive. They created a competitive envinronment so agressive in Japan that western rivals were later decimated by them.Read more ›