The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation was published in March, 2012 by Penguin Press. The paperback was released in February, 2013.
In The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani called The Idea Factory “riveting,” and wrote: “Mr. Gertner’s portraits of Kelly and the cadre of talented scientists who worked at Bell Labs are animated by a journalistic ability to make their discoveries and inventions utterly comprehensible — indeed, thrilling — to the lay reader.” In The New York Times Sunday Book Review, Walter Isaacson noted that the book was “a well-researched history of Bell Labs, filled with colorful characters and inspiring lessons. . . . ‘The Idea Factory’ explores one of the most critical issues of our time: What causes innovation? Why does it happen, and how might we nurture it?” The Economist concluded that “the men of Bell Labs . . . are brought to life by Jon Gertner in The Idea Factory, his wonderful history of the most influential corporate-research lab the world has seen.” And the Boston Globe described The Idea Factory as “breathtaking,” with reviewer Josh Rothman calling it “one of the best innovation-focused books I’ve read: It’s a wide-ranging, detailed, and deeply fascinating look at the New Jersey lab which has been churning out useful discoveries since the early 1900s.”