• Conquering the Electron

  • The Geniuses, Visionaries, Egomaniacs, and Scoundrels Who Built Our Electronic Age
  • By: Derek Cheung, Eric Brach
  • Narrated by: Eric Jason Martin
  • Length: 14 hrs and 8 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (84 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Conquering the Electron offers listeners a true and engaging history of the world of electronics, beginning with the discoveries of static electricity and magnetism and ending with the creation of the smartphone and the iPad. 

This book shows the interconnection of each advance to the next on the long journey to our modern-day technologies. Exploring the combination of genius, infighting, and luck that powered the creation of today's electronic age, Conquering the Electron debunks the hero worship so often plaguing the stories of great advances.

Want to know how AT&T's Bell Labs developed semiconductor technology - and how its leading scientists almost came to blows in the process? Want to understand how radio and television work - and why RCA drove their inventors to financial ruin and early graves? Conquering the Electron offers these stories and more, presenting each revolutionary technological advance right alongside blow-by-blow personal battles that all too often took place.

©2011 Derek Cheung and Eric Brach (P)2020 Tantor

What listeners say about Conquering the Electron

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Tech, science, engineering & the people behind it.

Anyone looking for a well-narrated (Carl Sagan-esque) account of the history of modern tech, starting from Volta and Galvani, and ending with present-day bandgap engineering for LEDs, lasers, transistors and fiber-optics, as well as signals and systems, should find a lot of value in this book.

The main author, Derek Cheung, is an expert EE, and he presents a worthwhile dose of technical scientific and engineering details without cutting short the human element involved in R&D-to-market of mainstream technologies.

I rate this book on the same or higher level as Walter Isaacson's "The Innovators"; higher because Cheung successfully delivers technical scientific details that far surpass Isaacson's works.

6 people found this helpful

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Very thorough but a bit dry

The book was interesting but it's so excruciatingly detailed that it's probably not for the casual history reader. The narration was a bit flat but it improved at 1.15 speed.

4 people found this helpful

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Absolutely electrifying and enlightening!

This literally goes from the ancients notice static electric fields in nature to fiberoptic internet and smartphones, detailing the lives of the people that got us there.

3 people found this helpful

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absolutely amazing! one the best books ever!

absolutely amazing book and perfectly narrated! a subject that everyone should get closer to once so much of it affects our day to day life! wonderful!

3 people found this helpful

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A great history of technology

The ideological masturbation in chapter 18 was jarring and unnecessary. But overall it was a great relatively easy to understand introduction to electronics technology through its history

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent dive into the science of today's tec

In easy to understand language, the authors begin at the beginning of the research that has led to today's smartphones, computers, tablets and more. as an example, the TV technology that I grew up with in the 50s and 60s have a direct link to today's flat screen devices. Plus, they give a nuanced look at where the future might take us at the end of their great book. I recommend this book to anyone that ever wondered what's inside their smartphone or computer or ever wondered where this technology came from

1 person found this helpful

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The True Side of Science

Application of Science toward the betterment of humankind suffers so many challenges, as the title suggests.

Rewind the modern technology back to hundred years, you can see a very faint beginning, like a tiny raindrop, laughable and very easy to be ignored. But persistence and vision are what shape itself into a big river with millions of individuals' hardships, sufferings, and injustice. Dark characters of bright, renowned but oppressive people, renowned labs and conflicts therein towards securing something secret or fights for honor, history of companies of modern day brand names, like Sony, Apple, Intel, Microsoft etc..reminds

"Behind every successful fortune there is a crime - Mario Puzo".

A well-balanced title describing the semblance among science, biographies of renowned scientists and businessmen, how things work, and competition, serendipities, power, struggle, and injustice.

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Technical precision with human drama

I loved walking through the advancements of electrical and electronic innovations that drive our modern world. The human element behind these inventions that was intertwined so beautifully in this book made it that much more compelling.

If you are not interested in the technical detail involved with scientific advancements this book will certainly hold less interest to you as that makes up a large portion of the book; especially as the book advanced towards its later chapters.

The book also contains some statements that could be considered dramatization (claiming someone to be a “born leader” or making claims that scientific failures in someone’s life caused the decay of their personal lives). These moments can come off a little strange in the context of a scientific book presenting factual historical events.

However, overall I loved the book and look forward to referencing it again in the future.

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A unbiased and enjoyable history of electronics

An insightful unbiased retelling of the history of electronics and modern computing. I will be re-listening in the future.

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wow, total dismissal of tesla

it was meh. very meh. meh meh meh.
slightly interesting. more words required. meh meh.

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  • Amdraz
  • 09-16-21

Absolutely outstanding

A thorough and detailed examination of the history, science and technology around humanities relationship with the electron. I listened at 1.1x playback speed as I found the narration a little too considered. Otherwise excellent.

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  • DRW
  • 04-19-21

Amazing

Brilliantly written, and clinically narrated. It just flowed and was very listenable.

There was an almost perfect mix of technical detail and storytelling.

Thank you!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-25-21

Amazing Book if you love IEEE

really interesting if you're in the industry. can be a bit dry at parts, but good depth of knowledge and overall very enjoyable

1 person found this helpful