International Business Machines, abbreviated IBM and nicknamed "Big Blue" (for its official corporate color), is a multinational computer technology and IT consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. The company is one of the few information technology companies with a continuous history dating back to the 19th century (Dell XPS M1210 Battery) .
IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software (with a focus on the latter), and offers infrastructure services, hosting services, and consulting services in areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology .
1885–1924: The origin of IBM
IBM has been well known through most of its recent history as one of the world's largest computer companies and systems integrators. With over 388,000 employees worldwide, IBM is one of the largest and most profitable information technology employers in the world. IBM holds more patents than any other U.S. based technology company and has eight research laboratories worldwide (Dell Studio XPS 1340 Battery) .
The company has scientists, engineers, consultants, and sales professionals in over 170 countries. IBM employees have earned Five Nobel Prizes, four Turing Awards, five National Medals of Technology, and five National Medals of Science.
The roots of IBM date back the 1880s, decades before the development of electronic computers. The company was formed through a merger of three different companies: the Tabulating Machine Company (with origins in Washington, D.C. in the 1880s), the International Time Recording Company (founded 1900 in Endicott), and the Computing Scale Corporation (founded 1901 in Dayton, Ohio, USA) (Dell Studio XPS 1640 Battery) .
The merger was engineered by noted financier Charles Flint, and the new company was called the Computing Tabulating Recording (CTR) Corporation. CTR was incorporated on June 16, 1911 in Endicott, New York, U.S.A.. Flint remained a member of the board of CTR until his retirement in 1930.
The companies that merged to form CTR manufactured a wide range of products, including employee time-keeping systems, weighing scales, automatic meat slicers, coffee grinders, and most importantly for the development of the computer, punched card equipment (Dell Vostro 1710 Battery) .
The product lines were very different, but Flint believed that since they all focused on equipment that made businesses more efficient, there were synergies and cross selling opportunities to be had. Based in New York City, the new company had 1,300 employees and offices and plants in Endicott and Binghamton, New York; Dayton, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Washington, D.C.; and Toronto, Ontario (SONY VAIO VGN-FZ11S Battery) .
Of the companies merged to form CTR, the most technologically significant was the Tabulating Machine Company, founded by Herman Hollerith, and specialized in the development of punched card data processing equipment. Hollerith's series of patents on tabulating machine technology, first applied for in 1884, drew on his work at the U.S. Census Bureau from 1879–82. Hollerith was initially trying to reduce the time and complexity needed to tabulate the 1890 Census. His development of punched cards in 1886 set the industry standard for the next 80 years of tabulating and computing data input (ASUS EEE PC900 battery) .
The Tabulating Machine Company originally sold some machines to a railway company but quickly focused on the challenges of the largest statistical endeavor of its day – the 1900 US Census. After winning the government contract, and completing the project with amazing speed, Hollerith was faced with the challenge of sustaining the company in non-Census years He returned to targeting private businesses both in the United States and abroad, attempting to identify industry applications for his automatic punching, tabulating and sorting machines (Dell RM791 battery) .
In 1911, Hollerith, now 51 and in failing health sold the business to Flint for $2.3 million (of which Hollerith got $1.2 million), who then created C-T-R. When the diversified businesses of C-T-R proved difficult to manage, Flint turned for help to the former No. 2 executive at the National Cash Register Company, Thomas J. Watson Sr.. Watson became General Manager of C-T-R in 1914 and President in 1915 (Sony VGP-BPS13 battery) .
By Drawing upon his managerial experience at NCR, Watson quickly implemented a series of effective business tactics: generous sales incentives, a focus on customer service, an insistence on well-groomed, dark-suited salesmen, and an evangelical fervor for instilling company pride and loyalty in every worker. As the sales force grew into a highly professional and knowledgeable arm of the company, Watson focused their attention on providing large-scale, custom-built tabulating solutions for businesses, leaving the market for small office products to others (sony vgp-bpl9 battery) .
He also stressed the importance of the customer, a lasting IBM tenet. The strategy proved successful, as during Watson's first four years, revenues doubled to $2 million, and company operations expanded to Europe, South America, Asia and Australia.
At the helm during this period, Watson played a central role in establishing what would become the IBM organization and culture. He launched a number of initiatives that collectively demonstrated an unwavering faith in his workers: he hired the company's first disabled worker in 1914, he formed the company's first employee education department in 1916, and in 1915 he introduced his favorite slogan, "THINK," which quickly became a corporate mantra (Sony VGP-BPL11 battery) .
Watson boosted company spirit by encouraging any employee with a complaint to approach him or any other company executive – his famed Open Door policy. He also sponsored employee sports teams, family outings and a company band, believing that employees were most productive when they were supported by healthy and supportive families and communities. These initiatives – each deeply rooted in Watson's personal values system – became core aspects of IBM culture for the remainder of the century (Sony VGP-BPL15 battery) .
Given the company's geographic growth (including the completion of three manufacturing facilities in Europe), and his own expansive vision, Watson found the C-T-R name too limiting,. A name of a publication from C-T-R's Canadian operation caught his eye, and on February 14, 1924, the C-T-R name was formally changed to International Business Machines Corporation, later to be abbreviated IBM (Dell Inspiron E1505 battery ) .
1925–1949: IBM's early growth
The newly minted IBM continued to develop its core cultural attributes during the 1920s. It launched a flagship newspaper, Business Machines, which unified coverage of all of IBM's businesses under one publication. It introduced the Quarter Century Club, to honor employees with 25 years of service to the company. It launched the Hundred Percent Club, to reward sales personnel who met their annual quotas. In 1928, the Suggestion Plan program – which granted cash rewards to employees who contributed viable ideas on how to improve IBM products and procedures – made its debut (Dell Latitude E6400 battery) .
The company also expanded its product line through innovative engineering. Behind a core group of inventors – James Bryce, Clair Lake, Fred Carroll, and Royden Pierce – IBM produced a series of significant product innovations. In the optimistic years following World War I, C-T-R's engineering and research staff developed new and improved mechanisms to meet the broadening needs of its customers (HP Pavilion dv6000 Battery) .
In 1920, the company introduced the first complete school time control system, and launched the Electric Accounting Machine. Three years later the company introduced the first electric keypunch, and 1924's Carroll Rotary Press produced punched cards at previously unheard of speeds. In 1928, the company held its first customer engineering education class, demonstrating an early recognition of the importance of tailoring solutions to fit customer needs (Hp Pavilion dv3-1000 battery) .
It also introduced an 80-column punched card. in 1928, which doubled its information capacity. This new format, soon dubbed the "IBM Card", became and remained an industry standard until the 1970s.
The Great Depression of the 1930s presented an unprecedented economic challenge, and Watson met the challenge head on, continuing to invest in people, manufacturing, and technological innovation despite the difficult economic times. Rather than reduce staff, he hired additional employees in support of President Franklin Roosevelts’ National Recovery Administration plan – not just salesmen, which he joked that he had a lifelong weakness for, but engineers too (Dell Precision M70 Battery) .
Watson not only kept his workforce employed, he increased their benefits. IBM was among the first corporations to provide group life insurance (1934), survivor benefits (1935) and paid vacations (1936). He upped his ante on his workforce by opening the IBM Schoolhouse in Endicott to provide education and training for IBM employees (Acer Aspire One battery) .
He sharpened the company's focus on data processing by selling off one of IBM's original product lines, the food services equipment business. And he greatly increased IBM's research capabilities by building a modern research laboratory on the Endicott manufacturing site.
With all this internal investment, Watson was, in essence, gambling on the future (SONY VGP-BPS8 battery) .
It was IBM's first ‘Bet the Company’ gamble, but the risk paid off handsomely. Watson's factories, running full tilt for six years with no market to sell to, created a huge inventory of unused tabulating equipment. When the Social Security Act of 1935 – labeled as “the biggest accounting operation of all time” – came up for bid, IBM was the only bidder that could quickly provide the necessary equipment (SONY VAIO VGN-FZ Battery) .
Watson's gamble brought the company a landmark government contract to maintain employment records for 26 million people. IBM's successful performance on the contract soon led to other government orders, and by the end of the decade IBM has not only safely negotiated the Depression, it had risen to the forefront of the industry. Watson's Depression-era decision to invest heavily in technical development and sales capabilities, education to expand the breadth of those capabilities, and his commitment to the data processing product line laid the foundation for 50 years of IBM growth and successes (Sony VGN-FZ460E battery) .
His avowed focus on international expansion proved an equally key component of the company's 20th century growth and success. Watson, having witnessed the havoc the First World War wreaked on society and business, envisioned commerce as an obstacle to war. He saw business interests and peace as being mutually compatible (Hp 520 battery) .
In fact, he felt so strongly about the connection between the two that he had his slogan “World Peace Through World Trade” carved into the exterior of IBM's new World Headquarters (1938) in New York City. The slogan became an IBM business mantra, and Watson campaigned tirelessly for the concept with global business and government leaders. He served as an informal, unofficial government host for world leaders when they visited New York, and received numerous awards from foreign governments for his efforts to improve international relations through the formation of business ties (Toshiba Satellite L305 Battery) .
IBM during World War II
A book published in 2001, IBM and the Holocaust, as well as a dismissed lawsuit against the company treats the use of Hollerith equipment by the Nazi government and IBM's role. In a "IBM Statement on Nazi-era Book and Lawsuit," IBM responded in February 2001 that (Toshiba Satellite Pro M15 Battery)
It has been known for decades that the Nazis used Hollerith equipment and that IBM's German subsidiary during the 1930s -- Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen GmbH (Dehomag) -- supplied Hollerith equipment. As with hundreds of foreign-owned companies that did business in Germany at that time, Dehomag came under the control of Nazi authorities prior to and during World War II (Sony Vaio VGN-FZ18M battery) .
It is also widely known that Thomas J. Watson, Sr., received and subsequently repudiated and returned a medal presented to him by the German government for his role in global economic relations. These well-known facts appear to be the primary underpinning for these recent allegations (Dell INSPIRON 1525 battery) .
Despite Watson's efforts on behalf of world peace, the interests of international commerce failed to prevent the breakout of war. When the Second World War began – well before the United States was formally engaged in the conflict – Watson placed all IBM facilities at the disposal of the U.S. government (SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31z Battery) .
IBM's product line shifted from tabulating equipment and time recording devices to Sperry and Norden bombsights, Browning Automatic Rifle and the M1 Carbine, and engine parts — in all, more than three dozen major ordnance items and 70 products overall. Watson set a nominal one percent profit on those products and used the profits to establish a fund for widows and orphans of IBM war casualties (Dell Studio 1555 Battery) .
Allied military forces widely utilized IBM's tabulating equipment for mobile records units, ballistics, accounting and logistics, and other war-related purposes. There was extensive use of IBM punched card machines for calculations made at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project for developing the first atomic bombs. During the War, IBM also built the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, also known as the Harvard Mark I for the U.S. Navy – the first large-scale electro-mechanical calculator in the U.S.. (Dell Vostro 1720 Battery)
To meet wartime product demands, IBM greatly expanded its manufacturing capacity. IBM added new buildings at its Endicott, New York plant (1941), and opened new facilities in Poughkeepsie, New York (1941), Washington, D.C. (1942), and San Jose, California (1943). IBM's decision to establish a presence on the West Coast took advantage of the growing base of electronics and other high technology in central California, an area that came to be known many decades later as Silicon Valley (Dell Vostro 1500 Battery) .
IBM has expanded so much by the end of the War that the company faced a potentially difficult situation – what would happen if military spending dropped sharply? One way IBM addressed that concern was to accelerate its international growth in the years after the war, cumulating with the formation of the World Trade Corporation in 1949 to manage and grow its foreign operations. Under the leadership of Watson's youngest son, Arthur K. ‘Dick’ Watson, the WTC would eventually produce half of IBM's bottom line by the 1970s (Dell Latitude D830 Battery) .