The Greatest Capitalist Who Ever Lived, Ralph Watson McElvenny and Marc Wortman

This is purportedly the story of Tom Watson, Jr., the son of IBM's founder. But he, too, gets plenty of attention so it's more a tale of two Watsons.

Watson, Jr took IBM from a large, successful company to a huge outfit. He was a bit of a ne'er do well in his youth, but a stint in the Army Air Corp in WWII taught him discipline - and to fly, a life-long avocation.

At IBM Jr and Sr were constantly at odds and fought, loudly and constantly. Sr never saw the future of computers. The book is a bit vague on how Tom Jr saw the coming of digital machines in the early days. There was no market there, at first. He did embrace an IBM effort to get into that field, but when it took off his commitment was unbounded.

Most of the book is about his time at IBM, and there's little fleshed out about Tom the man. He was quick to anger, prone to depression, but very good to the employees. IBM offered lifetime employment (if you didn't cross Tom), salaried pay to all employees, and was non-discriminatory long before the civil rights movement. Unlike his dad, who milked the company, Jr never took more than a $100,000 salary... though his stock was worth around $1 billion in today's dollars.

But the authors do go into some depth about his post-IBM career, and his sailing exploits. Yet we're left wondering what sort of guy he was. They admit he was quite the lady's man and had numerous affairs and secret hideaways, but that is pretty much glossed over.

One of the authors is Jr's grandson, and so it's not surprising that this is somewhat of a hagiography.

The most interesting part for me was the story of the making of the System/360, which nearly killed the company. The software budget was $30 million, but they eventually spent $500 million on it.

The authors are weak on technology and get several points wrong. I did wish there were more tech details.

All in all, an interesting read.