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The Transformers

Entrepreneurs who changed the world and how they did it

This story appears in the May 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Nobody has ever isolated what makes great entrepreneurs great, but that doesn't stop people from trying. Business historian Maury Klein takes on the question in The Change Makers: From Carnegie to Gates, How Great Entrepreneurs Transformed Ideas into Industries (Times Books), which compares and contrasts American entrepreneurial legends. He looks at how Thomas Edison and Edwin Land generated creativity, how Jay Gould and Bill Gates battled antitrust regulators, what the entrepreneurs did on their own time and more.

Klein uncovers many differences. Railroad magnate E.H. Harriman, for example, eagerly spent money on anything that might improve his tracks, while retailer J.C. Penney made a ritual of re-using bits of paper and string.

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