Summary of The Maverick and His Machine

Thomas Watson Sr. and the Making of IBM

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The Maverick and His Machine book summary
Just ask Tom Watson. If you are the first high-tech CEO in corporate history, you might as well be a maverick.


8 Overall

6 Importance

7 Innovation

8 Style


This book seems to have been written primarily because the author learned about the existence of boxes of Thomas Watson’s papers that had never been read by any biographer or journalist. In some cases, the author’s access to these new materials does help fill in some minor gaps in the existing accounts of Watson’s life. And cumulatively, they take some of the shine off the legend, impressing upon one how humdrum the daily life of even a business titan must be. This book is reasonably well written and packed with memorable anecdotes. While it doesn’t offer stunning new insights, getAbstract commends it as a readable, accessible and balanced introduction to one of the greatest executives of the twentieth century.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What strategies Thomas Watson’s employed at IBM;
  • How he reacted to 1929 Wall Street Crash;
  • Why Watson’s actions were considered progressive, to a certain extent; and
  • What Watson’s relationship with the Nazis entailed.


False Start
Thomas Watson was almost 40 when he began his real career. Until then, he was a successful salesman for National Cash Register, but that turned out to be sort of a false start. In 1903, NCR founder John H. Patterson directed him to set up a dummy company to destroy competitors...
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About the Author

Kevin Maney is a technology columnist for USA Today. The business journalism publication TJFR voted him the best technology columnist, and Marketing Computers magazine has named him one of the most influential technology columnists. He is the author of Megamedia Shakeout, a BusinessWeek bestseller.

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