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International Business Machines (IBM) (NYSE: IBM) is an American multinational technology and consulting firm headquartered in Armonk, New York. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and it offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology.
The company was founded in 1911 as the Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation through a merger of four companies: the Tabulating Machine Company, the International Time Recording Company, the Computing Scale Corporation, and the Bundy Manufacturing Company. CTR adopted the name International Business Machines in 1924, using a name previously designated to CTR's subsidiary in Canada and later South America. Its distinctive culture and product branding has given it the nickname Big Blue.
In 2011, Fortune ranked IBM the 18th largest firm in the U.S., as well as the 7th most profitable. Globally, the company was ranked the 31st largest firm by Forbes for 2011. Other rankings for 2011 include #1 company for leaders (Fortune), #2 best global brand (Interbrand), #1 green company worldwide (Newsweek), #12 most admired company (Fortune), and #18 most innovative company (Fast Company). IBM employs more than 425,000 employees (sometimes referred to as "IBMers") in over 200 countries, with occupations including scientists, engineers, consultants, and sales professionals.
IBM holds more patents than any other U.S.-based technology company and has nine research laboratories worldwide. Its employees have garnered five Nobel Prizes, four Turing Awards, nine National Medals of Technology, and five National Medals of Science. Famous inventions by IBM include the automated teller machine (ATM), the floppy disk, the hard disk drive, the magnetic stripe card, the relational database, the Universal Product Code (UPC), the financial swap, SABRE airline reservation system, DRAM, and Watson artificial intelligence.
The company has undergone several organizational changes since its inception, acquiring companies like SPSS (2009) and PwC consulting (2002), spinning off companies like Lexmark (1991), and selling off product lines like ThinkPad to Lenovo (2005).
2 Corporate affairs
2.1 Corporate recognition and brand
2.2 Working at IBM
3 Research and inventions
4 Selected current projects
5 Environmental record
6 Company logo and nickname
7 See also
9 Further reading
10 External links
Main article: History of IBM
Thomas J. Watson, who led IBM from 1914-1956, discussing the company's motto "THINK"
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Starting in the 1880s, various technologies came into existence that would form part of IBM's predecessor company. Julius E. Pitrap patented the computing scale in 1885; Alexander Dey invented the dial recorder (1888); in 1889, Herman Hollerith patented the Electric Tabulating Machine and Willard Bundy invented a time clock to record a worker's arrival and departure time on a paper tape. On June 16, 1911, these technologies and their respective companies were merged by Charles Ranlett Flint to form the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (C-T-R). The New York City-based 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. It manufactured and sold machinery ranging from commercial scales and industrial time recorders to meat and cheese slicers, along with tabulators and punched cards.
Flint recruited Thomas J. Watson, Sr., from the National Cash Register Company to help lead the company in 1914. Watson implemented "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". His favorite slogan, "THINK," became a mantra for C-T-R's employees, and within 11 months of joining C-T-R, Watson became its president. The company focused on providing large-scale, custom-built tabulating solutions for businesses, leaving the market for small office products to others. During Watson's first four years, revenues more than doubled to $9 million and the company's operations expanded to Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia. On February 14, 1924, C-T-R was renamed the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), citing the need to align its name with the "growth and extension of [its] activities".
NACA researchers using a IBM type 704 electronic data processing machine in 1957
In 1937, IBM's tabulating equipment enabled organizations to process unprecedented amounts of data, its clients including the U.S. Government, during its first effort to maintain the employment records for 26 million people pursuant to the Social Security Act, and the Third Reich, largely through the German subsidiary Dehomag. Also in 1937, the company president met with Adolf Hitler, and discussed issues on the supply of equipment, and in 1941 were made leasing supplies to camps to accommodate the prisoners. During the Second World War the company produced small arms (M1 Carbine, and Browning Automatic Rifle).
In 1952, Thomas J. Watson, Jr., became president of the company, ending almost 40 years of leadership by his father. In 1956, Arthur L. Samuel of IBM's Poughkeepsie, New York, laboratory programmed an IBM 704 to play checkers using a method in which the machine can "learn" from its own experience. It is believed to be the first "self-learning" program, a demonstration of the concept of artificial intelligence. In 1957, IBM developed the FORTRAN (FORmula TRANslation) scientific programming language. In 1961, Thomas J. Watson, Jr., was elected chairman of the board and Albert L. Williams became president of the company. IBM develops the SABRE (Semi-Automatic Business-Related Environment) reservation system for American Airlines. The IBM Selectric typewriter was a highly successful model line of electric typewriters introduced by IBM on July 31, 1961.
In 1963, IBM employees and computers helped NASA track the orbital flight of the Mercury astronauts, and a year later, the company moved its corporate headquarters from New York City to Armonk, New York. The latter half of that decade saw IBM continue its support of space exploration, with IBM participating in the 1965 Gemini flights, the 1966 Saturn flights, and the 1969 mission to land a man on the moon.
On April 7, 1964 IBM announced the first computer system family, the IBM System/360. Sold between 1964 and 1978, it was the first family of computers designed to cover the complete range of applications, from small to large, both commercial and scientific. For the first time, companies could upgrade their computing capabilities with a new model without rewriting their applications.
In 1973, IBM engineer George J. Laurer developed the Universal Product Code.
IBM's Blue Gene supercomputers were awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by U.S. President Barack Obama on September 18, 2009.
Financial swaps were first introduced to the public in 1981 when IBM and the World Bank entered into a swap agreement. The IBM PC was introduced in 1981, originally designated IBM 5150. The IBM PC became the industry standard. In 1991, IBM sold Lexmark, and in 2002, it acquired PwC consulting. In 2003, IBM initiated a project to rewrite its company values. Using its Jam technology, the company hosted Internet-based online discussions on key business issues with 50,000 employees over 3 days. The discussions were analyzed by sophisticated text analysis software (eClassifier) to mine online comments for themes. As a result of the 2003 Jam, the company values were updated to reflect three modern business, marketplace and employee views: "Dedication to every client's success", "Innovation that matters - for our company and for the world", "Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships". In 2004, another Jam was conducted during which 52,000 employees exchanged best practices for 72 hours. They focused on finding actionable ideas to support implementation of the values previously identified.
In 2005 the company sold its personal computer business to Lenovo, and in 2009, it acquired software company SPSS Inc. Later in 2009, IBM's Blue Gene supercomputing program was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by U.S. President Barack Obama.
In 2011, IBM gained worldwide attention for its artificial intelligence program Watson, which was exhibited on Jeopardy! where it won against game show champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.
IBM's headquarter complex is located in Armonk, Town of North Castle, New York, United States. The 283,000-square-foot (26,300 m2) IBM building has three levels of custom curtainwall. The building is located on a 25 acre site. IBM has been headquartered in Armonk since 1964.
The company has nine research labs worldwide—Almaden, Austin, Brazil, China, Haifa, India, Tokyo, Watson (New York), and Zurich—with Watson (dedicated in 1961) serving as headquarters for the research division and the site of its annual meeting. Other campus installations include towers in Montreal, Paris, and Atlanta; software labs in Raleigh-Durham, Rome and Toronto; buildings in Chicago, Johannesburg, and Seattle; and facilities in Hakozaki and Yamato. The company also operates the IBM Scientific Center, the Hursley House, the Canada Head Office Building, IBM Rochester, and the Somers Office Complex. The company's contributions to architecture and design, including Chicago's 330 North Wabash building designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, were recognized with the 1990 Honor Award from the National Building Museum.
IBM's Board of Directors, with 14 members, is responsible for the overall management of the company. With Cathie Black's resignation from the board in November 2010, the remaining 13 members (along with their affiliation and year of joining the board) are as follows: Alain J. P. Belda '08 (Alcoa), William R. Brody '07 (Salk Institute / Johns Hopkins University), Kenneth Chenault '98 (American Express), Michael L. Eskew '05 (UPS), Shirley Ann Jackson '05 (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Andrew N. Liveris '10 (Dow Chemical), W. James McNerney, Jr. '09 (Boeing), James W. Owens '06 (Caterpillar), Samuel J. Palmisano '00 (IBM), Joan Spero '04 (Doris Duke Charitable Foundation), Sidney Taurel '01 (Eli Lilly), and Lorenzo Zambrano '03 (Cemex).
Various IBM facilities
IBM Rochester (Minnesota), nicknamed the "Big Blue Zoo"
IBM Avenida de América Building in Madrid, Spain
Somers (New York) Office Complex, designed by I.M. Pei
IBM Japan Makuhari Technical Center, designed by Yoshio Taniguchi
IBM Haifa Research Lab, Haifa, Israel
IBM Kolkata Building, Kolkata, India
Corporate recognition and brand
In 2011, Fortune ranked IBM the 18th largest firm in the U.S., as well as the 7th most profitable. Globally, the company was ranked the 31st largest firm by Forbes for 2011. Other rankings for 2011 include the following:
#1 company for leaders (Fortune)
#2 best global brand (Interbrand)
#1 green company worldwide (Newsweek)
#12 most admired company (Fortune)
#18 most innovative company (Fast Company).
For 2010, IBM's brand was valued at $64.7 billion.
Working at IBM
In 2010, IBM employed 105,000 workers in the U.S., a drop of 30,000 since 2003, and 75,000 people in India, up from 9,000 seven years previous.
IBM's employee management practices can be traced back to its roots. In 1914, CEO Thomas J. Watson boosted company spirit by creating employee sports teams, hosting family outings, and furnishing a company band. In 1924, the Quarter Century Club, which recognizes employees with 25 years of service, was organized and the first issue of Business Machines, IBM's internal publication, was published. In 1925, the first meeting of the Hundred Percent Club, composed of IBM salesmen who meet their quotas, convened in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
IBM was among the first corporations to provide group life insurance (1934), survivor benefits (1935) and paid vacations (1937). In 1932 IBM created an Education Department to oversee training for employees, which oversaw the completion of the IBM Schoolhouse at Endicott in 1933. In 1935, the employee magazine Think was created. Also that year, IBM held its first training class for women systems service professionals. In 1942, IBM launched a program to train and employ disabled people in Topeka, Kansas. The next year classes begin in New York City, and soon the company was asked to join the President's Committee for Employment of the Handicapped. In 1946, the company hired its first black salesman, 18 years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1947, IBM announces a Total and Permanent Disability Income Plan for employees. A vested rights pension is added to the IBM retirement plan.
In 1952, Thomas J. Watson, Jr., published the company's first written equal opportunity policy letter, one year before the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education and 11 years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1961, IBM's nondiscrimination policy was expanded to include sex, national origin, and age. The following year, IBM hosted its first Invention Award Dinner honoring 34 outstanding IBM inventors; and in 1963, the company named the first eight IBM Fellows in a new Fellowship Program that recognizes senior IBM scientists, engineers and other professionals for outstanding technical achievements.
An IBM delivery tricycle in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1965
On September 21, 1953, Thomas Watson, Jr., the company's president at the time, sent out a controversial letter to all IBM employees stating that IBM needed to hire the best people, regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or gender. He also publicized the policy so that in his negotiations to build new manufacturing plants with the governors of two states in the U.S. South, he could be clear that IBM would not build "separate-but-equal" workplaces. In 1984, IBM added sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy. The company stated that this would give IBM a competitive advantage because IBM would then be able to hire talented people its competitors would turn down.
IBM was the only technology company ranked in Working Mother magazine's Top 10 for 2004, and one of two technology companies in 2005. On October 10, 2005, IBM became the first major company in the world to commit formally to not using genetic information in employment decisions. The announcement was made shortly after IBM began working with the National Geographic Society on its Genographic Project.
IBM provides same-sex partners of its employees with health benefits and provides an anti-discrimination clause. The Human Rights Campaign has consistently rated IBM 100% on its index of gay-friendliness since 2003 (in 2002, the year it began compiling its report on major companies, IBM scored 86%). In 2007 and again in 2010, IBM UK was ranked first in Stonewall's annual Workplace Equality Index for UK employers.
The company has traditionally resisted labor union organizing, although unions represent some IBM workers outside the United States. In 2009, the Unite union stated that several hundred employees joined following the announcement in the UK of pension cuts that left many employees facing a shortfall in projected pensions.
A dark (or gray) suit, white shirt, and a "sincere" tie was the public uniform for IBM employees for most of the 20th century. During IBM's management transformation in the 1990s, CEO Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. relaxed these codes, normalizing the dress and behavior of IBM employees to resemble their counterparts in other large technology companies. Since then IBM's dress code is business casual although employees often wear formal clothes during client meetings.
On 16 June 2011, the company announced a grants programs, called IBM100, to fund its employees participation in volunteer projects - the year long initiative is part of the company's centenary celebrations.
Research and inventions
An anechoic chamber inside IBM's Yamato research facility
In 1945, The Watson Scientific Computing Laboratory was founded at Columbia University in New York, New York. The renovated fraternity house on Manhattan's West Side was used as IBM's first laboratory devoted to pure science. The lab was the forerunner of IBM's Research Division, which today operates research facilities around the world.
In 1966, IBM researcher Robert H. Dennard invented Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) cells, one-transistor memory cells that store each single bit of information as an electrical charge in an electronic circuit. The technology permits major increases in memory density, and is widely adopted throughout the industry where it remains in widespread use today.
IBM has been a leading proponent of the Open Source Initiative, and began supporting Linux in 1998. The company invests billions of dollars in services and software based on Linux through the IBM Linux Technology Center, which includes over 300 Linux kernel developers. IBM has also released code under different open source licenses, such as the platform-independent software framework Eclipse (worth approximately US$40 million at the time of the donation), the three-sentence International Components for Unicode (ICU) license, and the Java-based relational database management system (RDBMS) Apache Derby. IBM's open source involvement has not been trouble-free, however (see SCO v. IBM