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The plant of the Tabulating Machine Corp. is seen here in 1893. In 1911 TMC was one of three firms to merge to form the company today known as IBM.

IBM's iconic CEO, Thomas Watson, Sr., is shown here using the world's first fully electronic computer in 1952.

IBM computers helped man land on the moon.

IBM invented LASIK vision correction.  (Source: Orange County LASIK)

IBM's Watson supercomputer recent put the mouth-breathing flesh sacks in their place when it schooled the Earth's most trivia-savvy humans on Jeopardy.  (Source: Hot Hardware)
Company today is stronger and more profitable than ever

Today International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) celebrated a relative rarity in the tech business -- its one hundredth anniversary.  By contrast Google Inc. (GOOG) is a mere 12 years old, Apple Inc. (AAPL) is 35, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is 36, and Hewlett-Packard, Comp. (HPQ) is 72 years old.

IBM was born in a different era in which computers were mechanical not electronic.  It formed from merger of three rising stars -- Computing Scale Comp., Tabulating Machine Comp. and International Time Recording Comp.  The company was named Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation (CTR), but in 1924 would be renamed IBM.

In 1911 it had 1,346 employees and had $950,920.43 USD in income.  Thomas Watson took over the chief executive position in 1915 and by 1920 the company was making nearly $14M USD and had 2,700 employees.

The company is sometimes referred to as having invented the "world's first computer program" -- the plug board used in its tabulation machines from the 1920s.  Technically that honor goes to predecessor Tabulating Recording Corp. and its founder, inventor Herman Hollerith.  Likewise Mr. Hollerith invented the punch card -- another invention often attributed to IBM, who helped make it famous

But IBM did invent a thing or two -- the electric typewriter, the mainframe, the photoconducting office copier, word processing, fractals, the programming language FORTRAN, speech recognition, relational databases, the scanning tunneling microscope (STM), the web server, the floppy disc, the hard drive, nanotubes, and LASIK surgery.

Its computers helped to land man on the moon and were found in America's first Space Shuttle.

The company also was a socially progressive force, pushing the first "open door" policy for complaints.  In 1935 IBM joined only a few companies of its time in hiring female engineers.  In 1946 it hired a black salesman.  And in 1953, Thomas Watson, Jr., son of the company's iconic executive, instituted an equal opportunity policy.  In 1984 IBM became one of the first companies to ban sexual discrimination.

Today IBM is America's third largest technology company behind Apple and barely behind Microsoft.  The company employs over 425,000 people worldwide.  Stock prices are at an all time high and the company is approaching $100B USD in yearly revenue, falling just millions short of that mark last year.  

Since 2000 IBM has has $109B USD in free cash -- $60B USD of which it reinvested into research and development.  The company today in 2010 filed for over 5,896 patents -- the most of any active company in the world -- adding to its also world-leading some of 50,000 active patents.

The key to the company success in recent years was to morph its business to fix the market.  In the 1990s that meant reinventing itself as primarily a hardware company into a mixture of a hardware maker and services provider.  IBM has also expanded its software offerings in recent years.

Ultimately IBM's biggest strength is its diversity.  For that reason the future looks bright for this centenarian.

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By icanhascpu on 6/16/2011 11:50:09 PM , Rating: 2
The corporate father of the technology industry.

By Samus on 6/17/2011 1:25:54 AM , Rating: 2
When I think of IBM I think of quality and innovation...typically two traits associated with the Thinkpad before Lenovo destroyed it.

By Omega215D on 6/17/2011 6:19:12 AM , Rating: 2
Well, IBM still has some input on the Thinkpad line of notebooks. The Ideapads are Lenovo's own making.

Besides, how did Lenovo destroy the thinkpad? They all seem just as solid as the old IBM only models.

By tng on 6/17/2011 10:04:56 AM , Rating: 1
My company used Thinkpads almost exclusively and they worked very well. After IBM handed the keys to Lenovo they continued this and found that the quality is not there anymore. When you buy 100 laptops and over 80 of them have major issues (had to be returned for replacement) within 2 months something has changed.

I also have seen others who have been Thinkpad fanatics dump them because of issues with Lenovo models

By contrast...
By ipay on 6/16/2011 8:34:49 PM , Rating: 1
By contrast Google Inc. (GOOG) is a mere 12 years old.

Thank you for making me feel old and grumpy...
At least, I like tween wave (not!).

RE: By contrast...
By kfonda on 6/17/2011 2:22:33 PM , Rating: 2
At least, I like tween wave (not!).

tween wave just sounds like crap to me. :-)

By alyarb on 6/17/2011 12:33:05 AM , Rating: 3
Floppies, hard drives, and other magnetic media are spelled disks, with a k. It's funny to see you attribute these inventions to IBM and overlook the historical implications of their spelling choice by writing "floppy disc." Certain media were only given the "disc" spelling after Sony/Phillips pioneered optical storage in the 1980's. Many people think IBM chose the k spelling because they are American and Phillips chose the "disc" spelling because they are European, but pretty much everyone knows to distinguish between magnetic and optical media in this way.

Technicially correct, I suppose...
By tjvanpat on 6/17/2011 5:56:07 PM , Rating: 2
The company today holds over 5,896 patents -- the most of any active company in the world.

IBM was actually awarded those 5,896 patents in just 2010. So, while yes it is true that they hold over 5,896 patents, they were awarded all of those patents in just 1 year. This is the metric they lead all other companies in during 2010.

However, what I can't vouch for is if the total number of patents they own is the most of any active company in the world.

ARMONK, N.Y. - 10 Jan 2011: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that its inventors received a record 5,896 U.S. patents in 2010, marking the 18th consecutive year it has topped the list of the world’s most inventive companies.


By Phoenix7 on 6/18/2011 11:31:51 PM , Rating: 2
in case no one could find this:

By ClownPuncher on 6/16/2011 5:46:11 PM , Rating: 4
In 1933, nobody besides the leaders of the Nazi party were privy to plans for "the final solution".

You probably still buy Bayer aspirin, BMW/Volkswagen cars, have Bosch appliances, etc.

By 4everaddicted on 6/16/2011 6:28:28 PM , Rating: 2
That's probably because if you read the headline, you'd see the article is about IBM's "legacy of inventions," not its detailed history. I'm sure that article is out there somewhere; not every article (especially one this brief) needs to mention that blunder in the company's history.

Besides, does it make the company any less respectable? I mean, many of our great grandparents owned slaves, so does that mean our families today are disgraceful?

By Reclaimer77 on 6/16/2011 7:12:45 PM , Rating: 1
Are you a Jew?

You know I think the holocaust is a terrible thing, but there are a lot of Jews out there that really take things too far. Who attempt to make the argument that anyone who had anything to do with 1930's Germany was aiding in the Holocaust. It's ridiculous. IBM? Really? It's one thing to say they helped German with a census, but you have to make a huge leap of faith to assume they KNEW that census would be used to throw millions of people in concentration camps.

It's a witch hunt, ironically, something I would think someone obsessed with the Holocaust would be equally wary of.

By cfaalm on 6/17/2011 7:47:14 AM , Rating: 1
And if the Nazi's were smart enough to fool the Red Cross during the war, they could have easily done that with any company (from abroad) before the war.

"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer

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