The Greatest Capitalist Who Ever Lived

The enduring story of Thomas Watson Jr.—a figure more important to the creation of the modern world than Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, and Morgan

ISBN: 978-1541768529

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The Greatest Capitalist Who Ever Lived

Tom Watson Jr. and the Epic Story of How IBM Created the Digital Age

by Ralph McElvenny, by Marc Wortman

Nearly fifty years into IBM’s existence, Thomas Watson Jr. undertook the biggest gamble in business history when he “bet the farm” on the creation of the IBM System/360, the world’s first fully integrated and compatible mainframe computer. As CEO, Watson drove a revolution no other company—then or now—would dare, laying the foundation for the digital age that has transformed every society, corporation, and government.

The story of Watson being “present at the creation” of the digital age is intertwined with near-Shakespearean personal drama. While he put IBM and its employees at risk, Watson also carried out a family-shattering battle over the future of the company with his brother Dick. This titanic struggle between brothers led to Dick’s death and almost killed Watson Jr. himself.

Though he was eventually touted by Fortune magazine as “the greatest capitalist who ever lived,” Watson’s directionless, playboy early years made him an unlikely candidate for corporate titan. How he pulled his life together and, despite personal demons, paved the way for what became a global industry is an epic tale full of drama, inspiration, and valuable lessons in leadership, risk-taking, and social responsibility.