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Riding the Runaway Horse: The Rise and Decline of Wang Laboratories

Kenney, Charles C.

5 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0316489190 / ISBN 13: 9780316489195
Published by Little, Brown, Boston, 1992
Condition: Very Good + Hardcover
From Black Falcon Books (Wellesley, MA, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Second printing. Inscribed and signed by the author on the front endpaper: "To C-- M-- / Best wishes / Charles C. Kenney." Book is tight and unmarked; spine slightly cocked; a ding to top board edges; corners sharp, spine ends unbumped. The dust jacket is price-clipped. Brodart protected. Bookseller Inventory # 004543

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Riding the Runaway Horse: The Rise and ...

Publisher: Little, Brown, Boston

Publication Date: 1992

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition:Very Good +

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good +

Signed: Signed by Author

About this title


Chronicles the American computer company founded in 1951 by Chinese immigrant An Wang, its scientific and financial success, and its collapse in the mid 1980s. Journalist Kenney explains how the initial success blinded the managers to major changes in the industry. No bibliography. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.

From Kirkus Reviews:

The cautionary tale of a world-class high-tech enterprise that hit the skids faster than it reached the heights. Drawing on interviews with key principals, disclosure documents, and allied sources, Boston Globe correspondent Kenney recounts what, save for hubris, could have been a classic American success story. His protagonist is the late An Wang, an inventive genius who left China for the US after WW II. After earning a Ph.D. from Harvard and working on several of the university's pioneering computer projects, Wang went into business for himself in 1951, at age 29. Profitable from the outset, Wang Laboratories rode the crest of the electronic calculator boom and transformed itself into a leading supplier of minicomputers during the early 1970's. The subsequent addition of user-friendly word-processing systems to its product lines helped make the company a multinational colossus with annual revenues topping $3 billion--and a Wall Street favorite. Notwithstanding more than a decade of spectacular growth, however, Wang Labs proved vulnerable on several counts. Its high command, for example, failed to appreciate the potential of personal computers, losing this lucrative market to archrival IBM, which went on to set the industry's standards. As Kenney makes clear, moreover, the vaulting dynastic ambitions of the firm's patriarchal founder (described by one close associate as ``a humble egomaniac'') led to operational and morale problems. Indeed, the reversal in the company's fortunes was so pronounced that by 1989 Wang (who died a year later) felt obliged to fire his son Fred from the presidency (for which, by all accounts, he was unqualified) and bring in a professional management team. Back from the brink of bankruptcy, Wang Labs, Kenney says, will survive as a going concern, albeit in neither the generation-spanning nor cutting-edge form envisioned by its creator. A corporate history bearing vivid witness to the warning that pride goeth before a fall. (Twenty-two photographs--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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