"An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man. . . . All history resolves itself very easily into the biography of a few stout and earnest persons."
Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"
Published August 30, 2021
Updated October 15, 2023
"Character teaches above our wills. Men imagine that they communicate their virtue or vice only by overt actions, and do not see that virtue or vice emit a breath every moment. … The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks. See the line from a sufficient distance, and it straightens itself to the average tendency. Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions."
"The Lengthening Shadow, since its publication in 1962, is the major source of historical information for almost all works that follow it on Thomas J. Watson Sr. or the early IBM Corporation.
"In September 1956 the future publisher, Little, Brown & Company approached the husband and wife team of Thomas and Marva Belden with a proposal from IBM. IBM desired a biography written about Mr. Watson—the company founder. The Beldens at first replied that they did not care to write a eulogy; for Watson Sr. had just passed away a few months earlier.
The publisher told them that IBM wanted a "disinterested" work. Tom Watson Jr., Watson's son and IBM's chairman of the board, told the Beldens that he wanted a 'hard look.'