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

Charles C. Kenny, Author, Charles Kenney, Author
Charles C. Kenny, Author, Charles Kenney, Author Little Brown and Company $22.95 (323p) ISBN 978-0-316-48919-5
Reviewed on: 02/03/1992
Release date: 02/01/1992
Chinese immigrant An Wang, a Harvard Ph.D. and computer pioneer, turned a Boston storefront operation into one of the legendary success stories in the computer industry. But by 1985 the glory years at Wang Laboratories had given way to a downward spiral of massive debt, layoffs and late product deliveries. To Boston Globe journalist Kenney, Wang's trajectory resembles a classic tragedy, rooted in a fatal flaw of its secretive, visionary leader--his obsessive desire for control and his placing of family interests ahead of those of shareholders. Wang's biggest mistake, asserts Kenney, was making his son Fred director of R&D, then president. An Wang fired his son in 1989, a year before his own death from cancer. This gripping, remarkably intimate saga discloses behind-the-scenes wrangling from the joyride years through the 1991 deal with IBM whereby Wang sells IBM products globally. Photos. (Mar.)
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