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Bob Stein is the professional maniac who is not afraid to go off and do something that seems absolutely absurd to everyone else who does not have his vision. People like Bob make things happen. He is the publisher born before his time, born before the printing presses were good enough to do the things he wanted to do.

THE ORACLE (Paul Saffo)

Bob Stein

The Radical

"The subtext of what's happening is that we are changing the way that humans communicate with each other," he says. "This transition is going to take much longer than people talk about, and it may be a hundred years, two hundred years, before it settles out. This profound shift is more significant than the invention of the printing press, and the deep implications of it won't be known for some time. A thousand years from now, humanity will look back at the late part of the twentieth century as the time when something big started."

I first heard about Bob in 1988, when his company, Voyager, released what is considered to be the first consumer CD-ROM, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, while also launching the Expanded Book Project.

After arranging licenses for the right to dozens of titles, Bob moved his company from Santa Monica to New York. In New York Voyager continued to play an important role in encouraging major houses to enter the electronic publishing arena.

For the inhabitants of corporate America, Bob is hard to read. He runs a business, and he strives for economic success, but as David Bunnell, himself an unrepentant '60s radical, notes, "Everything about Bob and his company flows from the fact that he marches to a different drummer. In a digital world filled with money-grubbing, heartless capitalists, Bob is doing work that enriches our culture and will endure long after the garish mansions of high-tech billionaires have crumbled and returned to dust."

BOB STEIN is founder of the Voyager Company.