100 years of IBM innovation
June 16th, 2011
10:43 AM ET

IBM celebrates 100th birthday

Today marks the 100th birthday of IBM, which was founded on June 16, 1911, in New York City as the awkwardly named Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company. (It was renamed International Business Machines in 1924.)

Over the decades, Big Blue, as the company is nicknamed, has reinvented itself many times, offering everything from calculators to electric typewriters to desktop computers to software to consulting services. By the mid-20th century, IBM was an icon of American business whose clean-cut employees in dark suits followed the mantra “Think,” a favorite slogan of longtime leader Thomas J. Watson.

Despite a somewhat stodgy reputation in recent years, IBM holds more patents than any other U.S.-based technology company and has a long history of pioneering technological innovations. IBM research has yielded the computerized airline reservation system, the magnetic strip on your credit cards, the ATM, the UPC bar code and the excimer laser used in LASIK eye surgery. IBM computers also helped power the Apollo moon landing in 1969.

The above gallery showcases some of the highlights of the company’s 100 years, from a 50-foot-long calculator to Watson, the computer that beat two human opponents on “Jeopardy!”

CNNMoney has a story tracing IBM’s history and impact on American business, along with a gallery of 5 groundbreaking inventions that IBM cast aside. Our friends at Fortune also take a look at five things every kind of tech CEO - from Page to Zuckerberg - can learn from Big Blue.

CNNMoney: Did you know IBM invented this ... ?

And our corporate partners at Time.com explore how IBM produced sustained and unlikely success by adapting to change.

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Filed under: IBM • Technology
soundoff (192 Responses)
  1. MSfromCA

    I work at IBM, and although its not perfect, its pretty unusual for a tech company. I have sat in the same office, worked in the same organization, and had the same second line manager, for 15 years. There are LOTS of tech companies that haven't even been around 15 years. You basically trade some excitement for security. Its less secure than when I started 20 years ago, but still secure compared to most tech jobs. The people who work for IBM are first rate and very little strange political stuff, or office affairs, or swearing, or shouting. A generally nice place to work.

    June 16, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. IBM-Is-Not-Loyal

    There is nothing "positive" about IBM in the past 20+ years.

    My father, who is a WWII vet, first started working for IBM in Endicott, NY when WWII ended. He put in 40+ years at IBM. Back then, loyalty was the key. If an employee was loyal and worked hard, then IBM treated that person (and his family) very well.

    Nowadays, there is no such thing as loyalty. The 'new' IBM disgusted my father because he is angry at the company over messing around with his pension while the current CEO of IBM, Sam Palmisano, earns a total compensation of more than $21,000,000 +.

    June 16, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Louis

      So true! GREED is the motivating factor these days

      June 16, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just a reader

      it so true . And IBM isnt the only, it is the US business culture these days.. Regards to your dad!

      June 18, 2011 at 1:13 am | Report abuse |
  3. John R.

    What you have in the slide show called an IBM 1130 is NOT and 1130. Suggest you try this website to see what an IBM 1130 really was. http://ibm1130.org/hw/cpu I sold 'em and installed them. and programmed them in FORTRAN

    June 16, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Zachary

    IBM is a monster. They helped Nazi Germany track individuals for termination using their business equipment and just recently applied for patents on human resources. I am sure there are many good employees working for IBM, but their past leadership was evil, and their current leadership in my opinion is even worse.

    "IBM has filed a patent application that covers offshoring employees. Application 20090083107, dated March 26, 2009, is a 'method and system for strategic global resource sourcing.'

    Probing IBM's Nazi connection
    http://news.com.com/Probing+IBMs+Nazi+c ... 69157.html

    IBM and the Holocaust

    The Punch-Card Conspiracy
    http://www.nytimes.com/books/01/03/18/r ... hoent.html

    IBM 'helped in Nazi mass-murder'

    IBM faces lawsuit over Nazi claim
    http://archives.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/euro ... index.html

    June 16, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ichi

      Dude, get over it, the war ended seventy years ago.

      June 16, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Hi Zachary:

      that last link you posted about the law suit doesn't come up... would you please repost?

      June 17, 2011 at 7:43 am | Report abuse |
  5. Greg

    Don't forget to mention that IBM is a leader in offshoring jobs. Also with cutting US staff every year, also with cutting pay, while still meeting it's Wallstreet prediction's, or maybe it was done so it would look good on Wallstreet, then again, maybe that is why Sam took out loans to buy back just enough IBM stock so he would hit his number's and get his MILLIONS in bonus $$$$. What a responsible thing to do to US workers over the past few years of this economic mess we are in. I could go on, but what's the sense. IBM & other US companies, built by US workers, don't really give 2 cent's for the people that actually do the work. It is manager heavy and work's it's workers to the bone. I find it interesting that the work get's done even is a manager position sit's empty for 6-8 mos, but if my team got up and left, crap would hit the fan in a matter day's......if that long.

    June 16, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. drogo, the stallion that mounts the world

    Why no mention of the IBM 1401?

    June 16, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. cindy

    Congratulations, IBM, for helping to get Hitler organized in his campaign to rob, ghettoize and murder millions of Jews and other innocent people.

    June 16, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • epona30

      People have short memories:(

      June 16, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • hw

      I was wondering if that event would even have been mentioned. IBM provided the means and the opportunity for the NAZIS to maintain the dabase to commit genocide. Good going IBM. Oh lets not forget the other corporations that co-operated with the NAZIS for the almighty buck.

      June 19, 2011 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
  8. cindy


    June 16, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TruthBTold

    This slide show makes it look like IBM invented the PC, and "brought information into the home", but in truth, they were late to the game, and simply the last in a long line of personal computer vendors to bring info into the home in the pre-clone era. Commodore, Tandy, Texas Instruments, Atari and Apple were there first; and let's not forgot others like Osbourne, and the Altair that started it all.

    June 16, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lynda B.

    My husband worked faithfully for IBM for >30 years. He worked extremely hard, wore a beeper & had a phone 24/7. It was a choice he made & he did well. No, the benefits are not as great as were initially promised, but it's a Brave New World for every one. Benefits get reduced. You have choices in America, if you don't like your job, you can leave it.

    June 16, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. SSA

    Happy 100th Birthday IBM! My Dad worked for you in the late 60's and early 70's and then started his own service bureau as an IBM partner. All 5 of his children, of which I am the oldest, followed in his footsteps. We are all in the IT industry! Thank you!

    June 17, 2011 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  12. mr. snrub

    the stupidity in 80% of these comments astounds me...

    June 17, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • BigBlueSlams

      Stupidity is not realizing that Watson was a convicted felon prior to launching IBM – do the research on his sales practices. Most 'educated' CIO's refuse to do business with IBM and they have to invest in China where corporate crooks abound!

      June 17, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. hw

    Whenever I hear IBM I just can't help myself and want to choke the lving daylights of anyone connected to that company. It is the single most discusting corporate greed ever. (Except for good ol Madoff). This American corporation colluded with the NAZIS to exterminate a population. Furthermore their technology enabled the Germans to destroy American service lives. So please don't gloat about being 100 years old; you have BLOOD on your hands.

    June 19, 2011 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
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