For an extraordinary fifty-seven-year period, the chief executives of the International Business Machines Corporation were Thomas J. Watson and Thomas J. Watson, father and son. IBM bears the imprint of both men — their ambitions and their strengths — but it also bears the consequences of a family that was in near-constant conflict.

Eminent historian Richard S. Tedlow explores the interplay between the personalities of these two extraordinary men and the firm they created. Both Watsons had deeply held beliefs about what a corporation is and should be. These ideas helped make "Big Blue" the bluest of blue-chip stocks during their tenure. These very ideals, however, also sowed the seeds for IBM's disasters in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the company had lost sight of the original meaning behind many of the practices each man put into place.