IBM

International Business Machines is name adopted by the company that was formed through a 1911 merger of four different companies--the Tabulating Machine Company, the International Time Recording Company, the Computing Scale Corporation, and the Bundy Manufacturing Company. Known at first as the Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation, it was incorporated on June 16, 1911 in Endicott, New York. The person most responsible for the merger was Charles Flint.

CTR began with a wide variety of products that aimed at increasing business efficiency, ranging from machines to record employee time to meat slicers. For the future of the company, the most important contribution came from International Time Recording Company. Its founder, Herman Hollerith, had developed a number of processes using punched cards. The 1880 census had taken eight years to complete. Hollerith applied for a patent in 1883, which was granted in 1889. Using Hollerith's equipment, the 1890 U.S. Census was able to complete its tabulations in one year. The Hollerith Code, the standard for punched cards for decades, is named for him.

In 1914, after being fired by NCR and with a prison sentence for anti-trust activities hanging over him, Thomas J. Watson approached CTR for a job. He was given the title of General Manager and became president the next year. In 1924, with the death of the primary promoter of CTR, Watson assumed full control and renamed the company International Business Machines. Under his direction, IBM became the acknowledged leader in punched card equipment.

At the outset of the Information Age following World War II, IBM had no obvious head start over its competition. General Electric was a huge company with vast research capabilities. Univac was a name associated with the first vacuum tube computers. Nevertheless, during the 1950's, IBM managed to establish itself as the industry leader. In 1952, Tom Watson Sr turned control over to his son, Tom Watson Jr.

Leadership turned into domination with the introduction of the System/360 in 1964. As a family of computers with compatible software and peripherals, the S/360 was immediately popular. Whatever IBM used with its products became the de facto industry standard.

Already dominant in mainframe computers, IBM entered the world of personal computers several years after Apple had brought them a degree of popularity. With its reputation for quality, the IBM PC gained quick acceptance in business applications. By allowing Microsoft, the developer of its PC operating system, to provide a version for OEM products, IBM opened the door to the "IBM compatible computer" industry. Eventually, IBM exited from the PC manufacturing business.

Today, IBM is still a manufacturer, but draws its primary strength from consulting and software.

- - - Books You May Like Include: ----

Father, Son & Co.: My Life at IBM and Beyond by Thomas J. Watson Jr..
In this eloquent first-person account of a family drama that changed the face of American business, the man who transformed IBM into the world's large...
IBM and the Holocaust by Edwin Black.
IBM and the Holocaust is the stunning story of IBM's strategic alliance with Nazi Germany--beginning in 1933 in the first weeks that Hitler came to po...