Clyde blends personal experience with technological and racial history to reveal how these things influenced one another. This wide-ranging memoir includes complex details about software and hardware as well as an exploration of IBM’s ties to oppressive regimes. While his examination of the past can’t change his relationship with his father, Clyde Ford’s words powerfully honor his father’s dreams and contributions to the digital age.
As he seeks to contextualize his father’s and his own time as minority hires at IBM, Ford includes too few fully fleshed-out personal anecdotes among footnoted summaries of other books about IBM and its famed chair, Thomas J. Watson, who personally hired the author’s father. Ford contrasts Watson’s bringing his father onboard with IBM’s involvement with such racist horrors as eugenics, the Holocaust, and apartheid. Less convincingly presented are Ford’s views on how the atmosphere at IBM impacted his father or himself and the dynamics of institutional racism that 'thinking black' apparently helped them fend off.