The history of IBM

IBM or International Business Machines is a well-known American computer manufacturer, founded by Thomas J. Watson (born 1874-02-17). IBM is also known as “Big Blue” after the color of its logo. The company has made everything from mainframes to personal computers and has been immensely successful selling business computers.

IBM is, perhaps, the best known computer company in the world. It began as the Computing, Tabulating & Recording Company founded by Herman Hollerith in the late 1800s. Their first large contract was to provide tabulating equipment for the tabulation and analysis of the 1890 US census. The company grew quickly and, in the early 1920s the name was changed to IBM. IBM was the world leader in providing computer systems for both business and scientific applications.

On June 15, 1911 The Company created by the merger of The International Time Recording Company Computing Scale Company, and the Tabulating Machine Company. The companies’ combined revenue for the fiscal year 1910 was “excess of $950,000. Today, the multinational rakes in almost $100 billion a year and employs 450,000.

In 1914, Thomas J. Watson brings with him the “Think” motto when he managed the sales and advertising departments at the National Cash Register Company. “Thought,” he says, “has been the father of every advance since time began. I didn’t think’ has cost the world millions of dollars.” Soon, the one-word slogan “THINK” appears in large block-letter signs in offices and plants throughout the company.

IBM president focuses the attention of the Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation — IBM’s former name; it was changed in 1924 — away from small office products and toward large-scale, custom-built tabulating solutions for businesses. Amazingly, it retains this focus today.

IBM began designing and manufacturing calculators in the 1930s. In 1944, IBM together with Harvard University financed the invention of  the first machine to compute long calculations automatically. By 1953, IBM was ready to completely produce their own computers, which began with the IBM 701 EDPM, their first commercially successful general-purpose computer.

Thomas Johnson Watson Junior wanted to contribute what he called a “defense calculator” to aid in the United Nations’ policing of Korea. There were only nineteen manufactured. The first went to IBM’s world headquarters in New York. Three went to atomic research laboratories. Eight went to aircraft companies. Three went to other research facilities. Two went to government agencies, including the first use of a computer by the United States Department of Defense. Two went to the navy and the last machine went to the United States Weather Bureau in early 1955.

In 1959, the IBM 1401 data processing system was introduced, the first computer ever to achieve sales of over 10,000 units. Also in 1959, the IBM 1403 printer was built.

Robert Dennard invented one-transistor Dynamic Random Access Memory or a DRAM in 1968. DRAM, a new type of computer memory chip that allowed computers to have more memory at a cheaper price.

In 1971 IBM invented its first operational application of speech recognition. Also developed an experimental terminal that prints computer responses in Braille.

In July of 1980 IBM representatives met for the first time with Bill Gates to talk about writing an operating system for IBM’s new “personal” computer. Bill Gates agreed to create an operating system and in August 12 1981 IBM introduced the PC complete with a brand new operating system from Microsoft, a 16-bit computer operating system called MS-DOS 1.0.

IBM’s Zurich Research Laboratory fellows J. Georg Bednorz and K. Alex Mueller receive the 1987 Nobel Prize for physics for their breakthrough discovery of high-temperature superconductivity in a new class of materials. This is the second consecutive year the Nobel Prize for physics has been presented to IBM researchers.

IBM Chairman and CEO Louis V. Gerstner gestures during a news conference in New York Monday, June 5, 1995. Lotus Development Corp. agreed to be brought out by IBM on Sunday, June 11, 1995, after the two companies arrived at a $64 per share price, $4 higher than what IBM offered when it began the hostile takeover attempt. The deal, valued at $3.52 billion, is the software industry’s largest merger. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. arrived as IBM’s chairman and CEO on April 1, 1993. Gerstner had been chairman and CEO of RJR Nabisco for four years, and had previously spent 11 years as a top executive at American Express.

In May 1997, IBM demonstrated computing’s potential with Deep Blue, a 32-node IBM RS/6000 SP computer programmed to play chess on a world class level. In a six-game match in New York, Deep Blue defeated World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov. It was the first time a computer had beaten a top-ranked chess player in tournament play, and it ignited a public debate on how close computers could come to approximating human intelligence.

The Guiness Book of Records officially recognizes IBM for setting two world records in Internet traffic on the 1998 Nagano Olympic Winter Games Web site: “The Most Popular Internet Event Ever Recorded” and, with 110,414 hits, “The Most Hits On An Internet Site in One Minute.”

IBM is awarded the 2000 U.S. National Medal of Technology for the company’s record of innovation in storage technology. This marks the seventh time that IBM and its scientists have received the nation’s highest award for technological innovation.

Samuel J. Palmisano becomes president and chief operating officer in 2000 and then, named chief executive officer of IBM. As CEO, Palmisano succeeds Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., who remains IBM chairman through 2002.

In 2001, IBM announces the general availability of the ThinkPad TransNote. The world’s first portfolio notebook combining a mobile computer with a digital notepad.

2005: Lenovo purchases IBM’s personal computing division, completing IBM’s transition into a services company and away from selling directly to consumers. The company makes tens of billions of dollars selling services — not machines — to businesses.