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Bell Labs in the 20th Century: World-Changing Discoveries in our NJ Backyard!


Scotch Plains Public Library invites the public to an evening with Jon Gertner, author of The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation (2012), the first full portrait of Bell Labs. On Monday, September 30 at 7:00 PM Gertner will speak, read from his critically acclaimed book, and answer questions from participants. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing.

The New York Times book reviewer Michiko Kakutani writes, “In today’s world of Apple, Google and Facebook, the name may not ring any bells for most readers, but for decades – from the 1920’s through the 1980’s – Bell Labs, the research and development wing of AT&T was the most innovative scientific organization in the world. As Jon Gertner argues in his riveting new book, The Idea Factory, it was where the future was invented.”

Jon Gertner grew up in Berkeley Heights, near the Bell Labs campus, and as he remembers, “Bell Labs was very closely integrated into our lives. Everyone knew the prestige and importance of Bell Labs and what had come out of there regarding science and technology.” Gertner is editor-at-large  at Fast Company magazine, where he writes on innovation and technology. From 2004 to 2011, he was a writer at The New York Times Magazine, where he covered science, business, society, and economics.

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Jon Gertner’s talk will be the first in Scotch Plains Public Library’s ongoing New Jersey Business and Innovation series. Gertner states, “We think of California and Silicon Valley as synonymous with innovation but really for the better part of the century, New Jersey was the center of innovation — first with [Thomas] Edison… and then Bell Labs as really being the center of innovation for 50, 70 years.”

The series will continue on Monday, November 4 at 7:00 PM when the library will welcome Professor William Rapp, Director of NJIT’s Leir Center for Financial Bubble Research and Assistant Professor Michael Ehrlich, Associate Director. They will talk about the origins and work of the center, the importance of understanding financial bubbles, and the development of forecasting tools to aid investors and policymakers. They will have copies of their recent book, Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble: An Analytical Exploration of Bubbles (2013) to sell and sign.

Both programs are free and open to all interested participants. Attendees are encouraged to register through the library’s website: or by phone: 908-322-5007, x.204 or e-mail .  


The Scotch Plains Library is located at 1927 Bartle Avenue, one block from Park Avenue in the center of town.

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Scotch Plains/Fanwood

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Dear Editor:

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