International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is an American multinational information technology company headquartered in Armonk, New York, with operations in over 170 countries. The company began in 1911, founded in Endicott, New York, as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR) and was renamed "International Business Machines" in 1924.

IBM produces and sells computer hardware, middleware and software, and provides hosting and consulting services in areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology. IBM is also a major research organization, holding the record for most U.S. patents generated by a business (as of 2019) for 26 consecutive years.[5] Inventions by IBM include the automated teller machine (ATM), the floppy disk, the hard disk drive, the magnetic stripe card, the relational database, the SQL programming language, the UPC barcode, and dynamic random-access memory (DRAM). The IBM mainframe, exemplified by the System/360, was the dominant computing platform during the 1960s and 1970s.

IBM has continually shifted business operations by focusing on higher-value, more profitable markets. This includes spinning off printer manufacturer Lexmark in 1991 and the sale of personal computer (ThinkPad/ThinkCentre) and x86-based server businesses to Lenovo (in 2005 and 2014, respectively), and acquiring companies such as PwC Consulting (2002), SPSS (2009), The Weather Company (2016), and Red Hat (2018). Also in 2014, IBM announced that it would go "fabless", continuing to design semiconductors, but offloading manufacturing to GlobalFoundries.

Nicknamed Big Blue, IBM is one of 30 companies included in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and one of the world's largest employers, with (as of 2017) over 380,000 employees, known as "IBMers". At least 70% of IBMers are based outside the United States, and the country with the largest number of IBMers is India.[6] IBM employees have been awarded five Nobel Prizes, six Turing Awards, ten National Medals of Technology (USA) and five National Medals of Science (USA).

International Business Machines Corporation
Traded as
FoundedJune 16, 1911 (as Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company)
Endicott, New York, U.S.[1]
FounderCharles Ranlett Flint
Area served
177 countries[2]
Key people
Ginni Rometty
(Chairman, President and CEO)
ProductsSee IBM products
RevenueIncrease US$ 79.591 billion (2018)[3]
Increase US$12.191 billion (2018)[3]
Increase US$8.728 billion (2018)[3]
Total assetsDecrease US$121.99 billion (2018)[3]
Total equityIncrease US$19.91 billion (2018)[3]
Number of employees
366,600 (2017)[4]


In the 1880s, technologies emerged that would ultimately form the core of International Business Machines (IBM). Julius E. Pitrap patented the computing scale in 1885;[7] Alexander Dey invented the dial recorder (1888);[8] Herman Hollerith (1860–1929) patented the Electric Tabulating Machine;[9] and Willard Bundy invented a time clock to record a worker's arrival and departure time on a paper tape in 1889.[10] On June 16, 1911, their four companies were amalgamated in New York State by Charles Ranlett Flint forming a fifth company, the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR) based in Endicott, New York.[1][11] The five companies had 1,300 employees and offices and plants in Endicott and Binghamton, New York; Dayton, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Washington, D.C.; and Toronto.

They manufactured machinery for sale and lease, ranging from commercial scales and industrial time recorders, meat and cheese slicers, to tabulators and punched cards. Thomas J. Watson, Sr., fired from the National Cash Register Company by John Henry Patterson, called on Flint and, in 1914, was offered a position at CTR.[12] Watson joined CTR as General Manager then, 11 months later, was made President when court cases relating to his time at NCR were resolved.[13] Having learned Patterson's pioneering business practices, Watson proceeded to put the stamp of NCR onto CTR's companies.[14] He implemented sales conventions, "generous sales incentives, a focus on customer service, an insistence on well-groomed, dark-suited salesmen and had an evangelical fervor for instilling company pride and loyalty in every worker".[15][16] His favorite slogan, "THINK", became a mantra for each company's employees.[15] During Watson's first four years, revenues reached $9 million and the company's operations expanded to Europe, South America, Asia and Australia.[15] Watson never liked the clumsy hyphenated name "Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company" and on February 14, 1924 chose to replace it with the more expansive title "International Business Machines".[17] By 1933 most of the subsidiaries had been merged into one company, IBM.[18]

IBM Electronic Data Processing Machine - GPN-2000-001881
NACA researchers using an 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,[19] and the tracking of persecuted groups by Hitler's Third Reich,[20][21] largely through the German subsidiary Dehomag.

In 1949, Thomas Watson, Sr., created IBM World Trade Corporation, a subsidiary of IBM focused on foreign operations.[22] In 1952, he stepped down after almost 40 years at the company helm, and his son Thomas Watson, Jr. was named president. In 1956, the company demonstrated the first practical example of artificial intelligence when Arthur L. Samuel of IBM's Poughkeepsie, New York, laboratory programmed an IBM 704 not merely to play checkers but "learn" from its own experience. In 1957, the FORTRAN scientific programming language was developed. In 1961, IBM developed the SABRE reservation system for American Airlines and introduced the highly successful Selectric typewriter. In 1963, IBM employees and computers helped NASA track the orbital flight of the Mercury astronauts. A year later, it moved its corporate headquarters from New York City to Armonk, New York. The latter half of the 1960s saw IBM continue its support of space exploration, participating in the 1965 Gemini flights, 1966 Saturn flights and 1969 lunar mission.

An IBM System/360 in use at the University of Michigan c. 1969.

On April 7, 1964, IBM announced the first computer system family, the IBM System/360. It spanned the complete range of commercial and scientific applications from large to small, allowing companies for the first time to upgrade to models with greater computing capability without having to rewrite their applications. It was followed by the IBM System/370 in 1970. Together the 360 and 370 made the IBM mainframe the dominant mainframe computer and the dominant computing platform in the industry throughout this period and into the early 1980s. They, and the operating systems that ran on them such as OS/VS1 and MVS, and the middleware built on top of those such as the CICS transaction processing monitor, had a near-monopoly-level hold on the computer industry and became almost synonymous with IBM products due to their marketshare.[23]

In 1974, IBM engineer George J. Laurer developed the Universal Product Code.[24] IBM and the World Bank first introduced financial swaps to the public in 1981 when they entered into a swap agreement.[25] The IBM PC, originally designated IBM 5150, was introduced in 1981, and it soon became an industry standard. In 1991, IBM sold printer manufacturer Lexmark.

In 1993, IBM posted a US$8 billion loss - at the time the biggest in American corporate history.[26] Lou Gerstner was hired as CEO from RJR Nabisco to turn the company around.[27] In 2002, IBM acquired PwC consulting, and in 2003 it initiated a project to redefine company values, hosting a three-day online discussion of key business issues with 50,000 employees. The result was three values: "Dedication to every client's success", "Innovation that matters—for our company and for the world", and "Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships".[28][29]

IBM inventions: (clockwise from top-left) the hard-disk drive, DRAM, the UPC bar code, and the magnetic stripe card

In 2005, the company sold its personal computer business to Chinese technology company Lenovo[30] 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. The company also celebrated its 100th anniversary in the same year on June 16. In 2012, IBM announced it has agreed to buy Kenexa, and a year later it also acquired SoftLayer Technologies, a web hosting service, in a deal worth around $2 billion.[31]

In 2014, IBM announced it would sell its x86 server division to Lenovo for $2.1 billion.[32] Also that year, IBM began announcing several major partnerships with other companies, including Apple Inc.,[33][34] Twitter,[35] Facebook,[36] Tencent,[37] Cisco,[38] UnderArmour,[39] Box,[40] Microsoft,[41] VMware,[42] CSC,[43] Macy's,[44] Sesame Workshop,[45] the parent company of Sesame Street, and[46]

In 2015, IBM announced three major acquisitions: Merge Healthcare for $1 billion,[47] data storage vendor Cleversafe, and all digital assets from The Weather Company, including and the Weather Channel mobile app.[48][49] Also that year, IBMers created the film A Boy and His Atom, which was the first molecule movie to tell a story. In 2016, IBM acquired video conferencing service Ustream and formed a new cloud video unit.[50][51] In April 2016, it posted a 14-year low in quarterly sales.[52] The following month, Groupon sued IBM accusing it of patent infringement, two months after IBM accused Groupon of patent infringement in a separate lawsuit.[53]

In October 2018, IBM announced its intention to acquire Red Hat for $34 billion.[54][55][56]

Headquarters and offices

IBM CHQ - Oct 2014
IBM CHQ in Armonk, New York in 2014
IBM Beijing, Pangu Plaza
Pangu Plaza, one of IBM's offices in Beijing, China

IBM is headquartered in Armonk, New York, a community 37 miles (60 km) north of Midtown Manhattan.[57] Its principal building, referred to as CHQ, is a 283,000-square-foot (26,300 m2) glass and stone edifice on a 25-acre (10 ha) parcel amid a 432-acre former apple orchard the company purchased in the mid-1950s.[58] There are two other IBM buildings within walking distance of CHQ: the North Castle office, which previously served as IBM's headquarters; and the Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., Center for Learning[59] (formerly known as IBM Learning Center (ILC)), a resort hotel and training center, which has 182 guest rooms, 31 meeting rooms, and various amenities.[60]

IBM operates in 174 countries as of 2016,[2] with mobility centers in smaller markets areas and major campuses in the larger ones. In New York City, IBM has several offices besides CHQ, including the IBM Watson headquarters at Astor Place in Manhattan. Outside of New York, major campuses in the United States include Austin, Texas; Research Triangle Park (Raleigh-Durham), North Carolina; Rochester, Minnesota; and Silicon Valley, California.

IBM's real estate holdings are varied and globally diverse. Towers occupied by IBM include 1250 René-Lévesque (Montreal, Canada), Tour Descartes (Paris, France), and One Atlantic Center (Atlanta, Georgia, USA). In Beijing, China, IBM occupies Pangu Plaza,[61] the city's seventh tallest building and overlooking Beijing National Stadium ("Bird's Nest"), home to the 2008 Summer Olympics.

IBM India Private Limited is the Indian subsidiary of IBM, which is headquartered at Bengaluru, Karnataka. It has facilities in Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Pune, Gurugram, Noida, Bhubaneshwar, Coimbatore, Visakhapatnam and Hyderabad.

Other notable buildings include the IBM Rome Software Lab (Rome, Italy), the Hursley House (Winchester, UK), 330 North Wabash (Chicago, Illinois, United States), the Cambridge Scientific Center (Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States), the IBM Toronto Software Lab (Toronto, Canada), the IBM Building, Johannesburg (Johannesburg, South Africa), the IBM Building (Seattle) (Seattle, Washington, United States), the IBM Hakozaki Facility (Tokyo, Japan), the IBM Yamato Facility (Yamato, Japan), the IBM Canada Head Office Building (Ontario, Canada) and the Watson IoT Headquarters[62] (Munich, Germany). Defunct IBM campuses include the IBM Somers Office Complex (Somers, New York). The company's contributions to industrial architecture and design include works by Eero Saarinen, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and I.M. Pei. Van der Rohe's building in Chicago, the original center of the company's research division post-World War II, was recognized with the 1990 Honor Award from the National Building Museum.[63]

IBM was recognized as one of the Top 20 Best Workplaces for Commuters by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2005, which recognized Fortune 500 companies that provided employees with excellent commuter benefits to help reduce traffic and air pollution.[64] In 2004, concerns were raised related to IBM's contribution in its early days to pollution in its original location in Endicott, New York.[65][66]


For the fiscal year 2017, IBM reported earnings of US$5.7 billion, with an annual revenue of US$79.1 billion, a decline of 1.0% over the previous fiscal cycle. IBM's shares traded at over $125 per share, and its market capitalization was valued at over US$113.9 billion in September 2018.[67] IBM ranked No. 34 on the 2018 Fortune 500 rankings of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.[68]

Year Revenue
in mil. USD$
Net income
in mil. USD$
Total Assets
in mil. USD$
Price per Share
in USD$
2005 91,134 7,934 105,748 61.80
2006 91,424 Increase 9,492 103,234 62.01
2007 98,786 Increase 10,418 120,431 80.04
2008 103,630 Increase 12,334 109,524 84.49
2009 95,758 Decrease 13,425 109,022 85.67
2010 99,870 Increase 14,833 113,452 105.32
2011 106,916 Increase 15,855 116,433 138.97
2012 102,874 Decrease 16,604 119,213 162.46
2013 98,367 Decrease 16,483 126,223 163.30 431,212
2014 92,793 Decrease 12,022 117,271 156.69 379,592
2015 81,741 Decrease 13,190 110,495 137.27 377,757
2016 79,919 Decrease 11,872 117,470 138.09 380,300
2017 79,139 Decrease 5,753 125,356 149.76 366,600

Products and services

IBM Interconnect
InterConnect, IBM's annual conference on cloud computing and mobile technologies

IBM has a large and diverse portfolio of products and services. As of 2016, these offerings fall into the categories of cloud computing, cognitive computing, commerce, data and analytics, Internet of Things (IoT),[69] IT infrastructure, mobile, and security.[70]

IBM Cloud includes infrastructure as a service (IaaS), software as a service (SaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) offered through public, private and hybrid cloud delivery models. For instance, the IBM Bluemix PaaS enables developers to quickly create complex websites on a pay-as-you-go model. IBM SoftLayer is a dedicated server, managed hosting and cloud computing provider, which in 2011 reported hosting more than 81,000 servers for more than 26,000 customers.[71] IBM also provides Cloud Data Encryption Services (ICDES), using cryptographic splitting to secure customer data.[72]

IBM also hosts the industry-wide cloud computing and mobile technologies conference InterConnect each year.[73]

Hardware designed by IBM for these categories include IBM's POWER microprocessors, which are employed inside many console gaming systems, including Xbox 360,[74] PlayStation 3, and Nintendo's Wii U.[75][76] IBM Secure Blue is encryption hardware that can be built into microprocessors,[77] and in 2014, the company revealed TrueNorth, a neuromorphic CMOS integrated circuit and announced a $3 billion investment over the following five years to design a neural chip that mimics the human brain, with 10 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses, but that uses just 1 kilowatt of power.[78] In 2016, the company launched all-flash arrays designed for small and midsized companies, which includes software for data compression, provisioning, and snapshots across various systems.[79]

IT outsourcing also represents a major service provided by IBM, with more than 40 data centers worldwide.[80] alphaWorks is IBM's source for emerging software technologies, and SPSS is a software package used for statistical analysis. IBM's Kenexa suite provides employment and retention solutions, and includes the BrassRing, an applicant tracking system used by thousands of companies for recruiting.[81] IBM also owns The Weather Company, which provides weather forecasting and includes and Weather Underground.[82]

Smarter Planet is an initiative that seeks to achieve economic growth, near-term efficiency, sustainable development, and societal progress,[83][84] targeting opportunities such as smart grids,[85] water management systems,[86] solutions to traffic congestion,[87] and greener buildings.[88]

Services provisions include Redbooks, which are publicly available online books about best practices with IBM products, and developerWorks, a website for software developers and IT professionals with how-to articles and tutorials, as well as software downloads, code samples, discussion forums, podcasts, blogs, wikis, and other resources for developers and technical professionals.[89]

IBM Watson is a technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data.[90] Watson was debuted in 2011 on the American game-show Jeopardy!, where it competed against champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in a three-game tournament and won. Watson has since been applied to business, healthcare, developers, and universities. For example, IBM has partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to assist with considering treatment options for oncology patients and for doing melanoma screenings.[91] Also, several companies have begun using Watson for call centers, either replacing or assisting customer service agents.[92]


IBM Yorktown Heights
The Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York, is one of 12 IBM research labs worldwide.

Research has been a part of IBM since its founding, and its organized efforts trace their roots back to 1945, when the Watson Scientific Computing Laboratory was founded at Columbia University in New York City, converting a renovated fraternity house on Manhattan's West Side into IBM's first laboratory. Now, IBM Research constitutes the largest industrial research organization in the world, with 12 labs on 6 continents.[93] IBM Research is headquartered at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in New York, and facilities include the Almaden lab in California, Austin lab in Texas, Australia lab in Melbourne, Brazil lab in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, China lab in Beijing and Shanghai, Ireland lab in Dublin, Haifa lab in Israel, India lab in Delhi and Bangalore, Tokyo lab, Zurich lab and Africa lab in Nairobi.

In terms of investment, IBM's R&D spend totals several billion dollars each year. In 2012, that expenditure was approximately US$6.9 billion.[94] Recent allocations have included $1 billion to create a business unit for Watson in 2014, and $3 billion to create a next-gen semiconductor along with $4 billion towards growing the company's "strategic imperatives" (cloud, analytics, mobile, security, social) in 2015.[95]

IBM has been a leading proponent of the Open Source Initiative, and began supporting Linux in 1998.[96] 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.[97] 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),[98] 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).

Famous inventions and developments by IBM include: the Automated teller machine (ATM), Dynamic random access memory (DRAM), the electronic keypunch, the financial swap, the floppy disk, the hard disk drive, the magnetic stripe card, the relational database, RISC, the SABRE airline reservation system, SQL, the Universal Product Code (UPC) bar code, and the virtual machine. Additionally, in 1990 company scientists used a scanning tunneling microscope to arrange 35 individual xenon atoms to spell out the company acronym, marking the first structure assembled one atom at a time.[99] A major part of IBM research is the generation of patents. Since its first patent for a traffic signaling device, IBM has been one of the world's most prolific patent sources. In 2018, the company holds the record for most patents generated by a business, marking 25 consecutive years for the achievement.[5]

Five IBMers have received the Nobel Prize: Leo Esaki, of the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., in 1973, for work in semiconductors; Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer, of the Zurich Research Center, in 1986, for the scanning tunneling microscope;[100] and Georg Bednorz and Alex Müller, also of Zurich, in 1987, for research in superconductivity. Several IBMers have also won the Turing Award, including the first female recipient Frances E. Allen.[101]

Current research includes a collaboration with the University of Michigan to see computers act as an academic adviser for undergraduate computer science and engineering students at the university,[102] and a partnership with AT&T, combining their cloud and Internet of Things (IoT) platforms to make them interoperable and to provide developers with easier tools.[103]

The company is also involved in research into advanced algorithms and machine learning and their decision-making processes.[104] To that end, the company recently released an analysis tool for how and why algorithms make decisions while scanning for biases in automated decision-making.[105]

Brand and reputation

IBM is nicknamed Big Blue in part due to its blue logo and color scheme,[106][107] and also partially since IBM once had a de facto dress code of white shirts with blue suits.[106][108] The company logo has undergone several changes over the years, with its current "8-bar" logo designed in 1972 by graphic designer Paul Rand.[109] It was a general replacement for a 13-bar logo, since period photocopiers did not render large areas well. Aside from the logo, IBM used Helvetica as a corporate typeface for 50 years, until it was replaced in 2017 by the custom-designed IBM Plex.

IBM has a valuable brand as a result of over 100 years of operations and marketing campaigns. Since 1996, IBM has been the exclusive technology partner for the Masters Tournament, one of the four major championships in professional golf, with IBM creating the first (1996), the first course cam (1998), the first iPhone app with live streaming (2009), and first-ever live 4K Ultra High Definition feed in the United States for a major sporting event (2016).[110] As a result, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty became the third female member of the Master's governing body, the Augusta National Golf Club.[111] IBM is also a major sponsor in professional tennis, with engagements at the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, the Australian Open, and the French Open.[112] The company also sponsored the Olympic Games from 1960–2000,[113] and the National Football League from 2003–2012.[114]

In 2012, IBM's brand was valued at $75.5 billion and ranked by Interbrand as the second-best brand worldwide.[115] That same year, it was also ranked the top company for leaders (Fortune), the number two green company in the U.S. (Newsweek),[116] the second-most respected company (Barron's),[117] the fifth-most admired company (Fortune), the 18th-most innovative company (Fast Company), and the number one in technology consulting and number two in outsourcing (Vault).[118] In 2015, Forbes ranked IBM the fifth-most valuable brand.[119]

People and culture


Ibmaustin designcamp
New IBMers being welcomed to bootcamp at IBM Austin, 2015
Watson Jeopardy demo
Employees demonstrating IBM Watson capabilities in a Jeopardy! exhibition match on campus, 2011

IBM has one of the largest workforces in the world, and employees at Big Blue are referred to as "IBMers". The company was among the first corporations to provide group life insurance (1934), survivor benefits (1935), training for women (1935), paid vacations (1937), and training for disabled people (1942). IBM hired its first black salesperson in 1946, and in 1952, CEO 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. The Human Rights Campaign has rated IBM 100% on its index of gay-friendliness every year since 2003,[120] with IBM providing same-sex partners of its employees with health benefits and an anti-discrimination clause. Additionally, in 2005, IBM became the first major company in the world to commit formally to not use genetic information in employment decisions; and in 2017, IBM was named to Working Mother's 100 Best Companies List for the 32nd consecutive year.[121]

IBM has several leadership development and recognition programs to recognize employee potential and achievements. For early-career high potential employees, IBM sponsors leadership development programs by discipline (e.g., general management (GMLDP), human resources (HRLDP), finance (FLDP)). Each year, the company also selects 500 IBMers for the IBM Corporate Service Corps (CSC),[122] which has been described as the corporate equivalent of the Peace Corps and gives top employees a month to do humanitarian work abroad.[123] For certain interns, IBM also has a program called Extreme Blue that partners top business and technical students to develop high-value technology and compete to present their business case to the company's CEO at internship's end.[124]

The company also has various designations for exceptional individual contributors such as Senior Technical Staff Member (STSM), Research Staff Member (RSM), Distinguished Engineer (DE), and Distinguished Designer (DD).[125] Prolific inventors can also achieve patent plateaus and earn the designation of Master Inventor. The company's most prestigious designation is that of IBM Fellow. Since 1963, the company names a handful of Fellows each year based on technical achievement. Other programs recognize years of service such as the Quarter Century Club established in 1924, and sellers are eligible to join the Hundred Percent Club, composed of IBM salesmen who meet their quotas, convened in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Each year, the company also selects 1,000 IBMers annually to award the Best of IBM Award, which includes an all-expenses paid trip to the awards ceremony in an exotic location.

IBM's culture has evolved significantly over its century of operations. In its early days, a dark (or gray) suit, white shirt, and a "sincere" tie constituted the public uniform for IBM employees.[126] During IBM's management transformation in the 1990s, CEO Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. relaxed these codes, normalizing the dress and behavior of IBM employees.[127] The company's culture has also given to different plays on the company acronym (IBM), with some saying is stands for "I've Been Moved" due to relocations and layoffs,[128] others saying it stands for "I'm By Myself" pursuant to a prevalent work-from-anywhere norm,[129] and others saying it stands for "I'm Being Mentored" due to the company's open door policy and encouragement for mentoring at all levels.[130] In terms of labor relations, the company has traditionally resisted labor union organizing,[131] although unions represent some IBM workers outside the United States.[132] In Japan, IBM employees also have an American football team complete with pro stadium, cheerleaders and televised games, competing in the Japanese X-League as the "Big Blue".[133]

In 2015, IBM started giving employees the option of choosing either a PC or a Mac as their primary work device, resulting in IBM becoming the world's largest Mac shop.[134] In 2016, IBM eliminated forced rankings and changed its annual performance review system to focus more on frequent feedback, coaching, and skills development.[135]

IBM alumni

Many IBMers have also achieved notability outside of work and after leaving IBM. In business, former IBM employees include Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook,[136] former EDS CEO and politician Ross Perot, Microsoft chairman John W. Thompson, SAP co-founder Hasso Plattner, Gartner founder Gideon Gartner, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) CEO Lisa Su,[137] former Citizens Financial Group CEO Ellen Alemany, former Yahoo! chairman Alfred Amoroso, former AT&T CEO C. Michael Armstrong, former Xerox Corporation CEOs David T. Kearns and G. Richard Thoman,[138] former Fair Isaac Corporation CEO Mark N. Greene,[139] Citrix Systems co-founder Ed Iacobucci, chairman Brian McBride, former Lenovo CEO Steve Ward, and former Teradata CEO Kenneth Simonds.

In government, alumna Patricia Roberts Harris served as United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the first African American woman to serve in the United States Cabinet.[140] Samuel K. Skinner served as U.S. Secretary of Transportation and as the White House Chief of Staff. Alumni also include U.S. Senators Mack Mattingly and Thom Tillis; Wisconsin governor Scott Walker;[141] former U.S. Ambassadors Vincent Obsitnik (Slovakia), Arthur K. Watson (France), and Thomas Watson Jr. (Soviet Union); and former U.S. Representatives Todd Akin,[142] Glenn Andrews, Robert Garcia, Katherine Harris,[143] Amo Houghton, Jim Ross Lightfoot, Thomas J. Manton, Donald W. Riegle Jr., and Ed Zschau.

Others are NASA astronaut Michael J. Massimino, Canadian astronaut Julie Payette, Harvey Mudd College president Maria Klawe, Western Governors University president emeritus Robert Mendenhall, former University of Kentucky president Lee T. Todd Jr., NFL referee Bill Carollo,[144] former Rangers F.C. chairman John McClelland, and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature J. M. Coetzee. Thomas Watson Jr. also served as the 11th national president of the Boy Scouts of America and Tucker Technologies Founder and CEO Mycah E. Tucker

Board and shareholders

The company's 14 member Board of Directors are responsible for overall corporate management and includes the CEOs of American Express, Ford Motor Company, Boeing, Dow Chemical, Johnson and Johnson, and Cemex as well as the president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.[145]

In 2011, IBM became the first technology company Warren Buffett's holding company Berkshire Hathaway invested in.[146] Initially he bought 64 million shares costing 10.5 billion dollars. Over the years he increased his IBM holdings however he reduced it by 94.5% to 2.05 million shares at the end of 2017. By May 2018 he was completely out of IBM.[147]

See also


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  4. ^ "2017 IBM Annual Report" (PDF).
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  6. ^
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Further reading

  • Henry Bakis (1987). "Telecommunications and the Global Firm". In F. E. Ian Hamilton. Industrial change in advanced economies. London: Croom Helm. pp. 130–160. ISBN 9780709938286.
  • Roy A Bauer; et al. (1992). The Silverlake Project: Transformation at IBM (AS/400). Oxford University Press.
  • Edwin Black (2001). IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation. ISBN 0-914153-10-2.
  • Paul Carroll (1993). Big Blues: The Unmaking of IBM. Crown Publishers.
  • Doug Garr (1999). IBM Redux: Lou Gerstner & The Business Turnaround of the Decade. Harper Business.
  • Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. (2002). Who Says Elephants can't Dance?. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-715448-8.
  • Greulich, Peter E. (2014) A View from Beneath the Dancing Elephant: Rediscovering IBM's Corporate Constitution MBI Concepts Corporation. ISBN 0-9833734-6-9.
  • John Harwood (2011). The Interface: IBM and the Transformation of Corporate Design, 1945–1976. ISBN 978-0-8166-7039-0.
  • Robert Heller (1994). The Fate of IBM. Little Brown.
  • David Mercer (1987). IBM: How the World's Most Successful Corporation is Managed. Kogan Page.
  • David Mercer (1988). The Global IBM: Leadership in Multinational Management. Dodd, Mead. p. 374.
  • Mills, D. Quinn; Friesen, G. Bruce (1996). Broken Promises: An Unconventional View of What Went Wrong at IBM. Harvard Business School. ISBN 0-87584-654-8.
  • Emerson W. Pugh (1996). Building IBM: Shaping an Industry. MIT Press.
  • Robert Slater (1999). Saving Big Blue: IBM's Lou Gerstner. McGraw Hill.
  • Ulrich Steinhilper (2006). Don't Talk – Do It! From Flying To Word Processing. ISBN 1-872836-75-5.
  • Ernest von Simson (2009). The Limits of Strategy: Lessons in Leadership from the Computer Industry. iUniverse. ISBN 978-1-4401-9258-6.
  • Thomas Watson, Jr. (1990). Father, Son & Co: My Life at IBM and Beyond. ISBN 0-553-29023-1.

External links


BIOS ( BY-oss; an acronym for Basic Input/Output System and also known as the System BIOS, ROM BIOS or PC BIOS) is non-volatile firmware used to perform hardware initialization during the booting process (power-on startup), and to provide runtime services for operating systems and programs. The BIOS firmware comes pre-installed on a personal computer's system board, and it is the first software to run when powered on. The name originates from the Basic Input/Output System used in the CP/M operating system in 1975. Originally proprietary to the IBM PC, the BIOS has been reverse engineered by companies looking to create compatible systems. The interface of that original system serves as a de facto standard.

The BIOS in modern PCs initializes and tests the system hardware components, and loads a boot loader from a mass memory device which then initializes an operating system. In the era of MS-DOS, the BIOS provided a hardware abstraction layer for the keyboard, display, and other input/output (I/O) devices that standardized an interface to application programs and the operating system. More recent operating systems do not use the BIOS after loading, instead accessing the hardware components directly.

Most BIOS implementations are specifically designed to work with a particular computer or motherboard model, by interfacing with various devices that make up the complementary system chipset. Originally, BIOS firmware was stored in a ROM chip on the PC motherboard. In modern computer systems, the BIOS contents are stored on flash memory so it can be rewritten without removing the chip from the motherboard. This allows easy, end-user updates to the BIOS firmware so new features can be added or bugs can be fixed, but it also creates a possibility for the computer to become infected with BIOS rootkits. Furthermore, a BIOS upgrade that fails can brick the motherboard permanently, unless the system includes some form of backup for this case.

Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) is a successor to BIOS, aiming to address its technical shortcomings. Although UEFI is more common in modern hardware, many still refer to it as the BIOS, e.g. "get into the BIOS".

Cell (microprocessor)

Cell is a multi-core microprocessor microarchitecture that combines a general-purpose Power Architecture core of modest performance with streamlined coprocessing elements which greatly accelerate multimedia and vector processing applications, as well as many other forms of dedicated computation.It was developed by Sony, Toshiba, and IBM, an alliance known as "STI". The architectural design and first implementation were carried out at the STI Design Center in Austin, Texas over a four-year period beginning March 2001 on a budget reported by Sony as approaching US$400 million. Cell is shorthand for Cell Broadband Engine Architecture, commonly abbreviated CBEA in full or Cell BE in part.

The first major commercial application of Cell was in Sony's PlayStation 3 game console. Mercury Computer Systems has a dual Cell server, a dual Cell blade configuration, a rugged computer, and a PCI Express accelerator board available in different stages of production. Toshiba had announced plans to incorporate Cell in high definition television sets, but seems to have abandoned the idea. Exotic features such as the XDR memory subsystem and coherent Element Interconnect Bus (EIB) interconnect appear to position Cell for future applications in the supercomputing space to exploit the Cell processor's prowess in floating point kernels.

The Cell architecture includes a memory coherence architecture that emphasizes power efficiency, prioritizes bandwidth over low latency, and favors peak computational throughput over simplicity of program code. For these reasons, Cell is widely regarded as a challenging environment for software development. IBM provides a Linux-based development platform to help developers program for Cell chips. The architecture will not be widely used unless it is adopted by the software development community. However, Cell's strengths may make it useful for scientific computing regardless of its mainstream success.

Code page 437

Code page 437 is the character set of the original IBM PC (personal computer). It is also known as CP437, OEM-US, OEM 437, PC-8, or DOS Latin US. The set includes ASCII codes 32–126, extended codes for accented letters (diacritics), some Greek letters, icons, and line-drawing symbols. It is sometimes referred to as the "OEM font" or "high ASCII", or as "extended ASCII" (one of many mutually incompatible ASCII extensions).

This character set remains the primary font in the core of any EGA and VGA-compatible graphics card. Text shown when a PC reboots, before any other font can be loaded from a storage medium, typically is rendered in this character set. Many file formats developed at the time of the IBM PC are based on code page 437 as well.


DOS (, ) is a family of disk operating systems, hence the name. DOS primarily consists of MS-DOS and a rebranded version under the name IBM PC DOS, both of which were introduced in 1981. Other later compatible systems from other manufacturers include DR-DOS (1988), ROM-DOS (1989), PTS-DOS (1993), and FreeDOS (1998). MS-DOS dominated the x86-based IBM PC compatible market between 1981 and 1995.

Dozens of other operating systems also use the acronym "DOS", including the mainframe DOS/360 from 1966. Others are Apple DOS, Apple ProDOS, Atari DOS, Commodore DOS, TRSDOS, and AmigaDOS.

Deep Blue (chess computer)

Deep Blue was a chess-playing computer developed by IBM. It is known for being the first computer chess-playing system to win both a chess game and a chess match against a reigning world champion under regular time controls.

Deep Blue won its first game against a world champion on 10 February 1996, when it defeated Garry Kasparov in game one of a six-game match. However, Kasparov won three and drew two of the following five games, defeating Deep Blue by a score of 4–2. Deep Blue was then heavily upgraded, and played Kasparov again in May 1997. Deep Blue won game six, therefore winning the six-game rematch 3½–2½ and becoming the first computer system to defeat a reigning world champion in a match under standard chess tournament time controls. Kasparov accused IBM of cheating and demanded a rematch. IBM refused and dismantled Deep Blue.

Development for Deep Blue began in 1985 with the ChipTest project at Carnegie Mellon University. This project eventually evolved into Deep Thought, at which point the development team was hired by IBM. The project evolved once more with the new name Deep Blue in 1989. Grandmaster Joel Benjamin was also part of the development team.


Fortran (; formerly FORTRAN, derived from Formula Translation) is a general-purpose, compiled imperative programming language that is especially suited to numeric computation and scientific computing.

Originally developed by IBM in the 1950s for scientific and engineering applications, FORTRAN came to dominate this area of programming early on and has been in continuous use for over half a century in computationally intensive areas such as numerical weather prediction, finite element analysis, computational fluid dynamics, computational physics, crystallography and computational chemistry. It is a popular language for high-performance computing and is used for programs that benchmark and rank the world's fastest supercomputers.Fortran encompasses a lineage of versions, each of which evolved to add extensions to the language while usually retaining compatibility with prior versions. Successive versions have added support for structured programming

and processing of character-based data (FORTRAN 77), array programming, modular programming and generic programming (Fortran 90), high performance Fortran (Fortran 95), object-oriented programming (Fortran 2003) and concurrent programming (Fortran 2008).

Fortran's design was the basis for many other programming languages. Among the better known is BASIC, which is based on FORTRAN II with a number of syntax cleanups, notably better logical structures, and other changes to more easily work in an interactive environment.


AIX (Advanced Interactive eXecutive, pronounced ) is a series of proprietary Unix operating systems developed and sold by IBM for several of its computer platforms. Originally released for the IBM RT PC RISC workstation, AIX now supports or has supported a wide variety of hardware platforms, including the IBM RS/6000 series and later POWER and PowerPC-based systems, IBM System i, System/370 mainframes, PS/2 personal computers, and the Apple Network Server.

AIX is based on UNIX System V with 4.3BSD-compatible extensions. It is one of six commercial operating systems that have versions certified to The Open Group's UNIX 03 standard (the others being macOS, Solaris, Inspur K-UX, HP-UX, and eulerOS).The AIX family of operating systems debuted in 1986, became the standard operating system for the RS/6000 series on its launch in 1990, and is still actively developed by IBM. It is currently supported on IBM Power Systems alongside IBM i and Linux.

AIX was the first operating system to have a journaling file system, and IBM has continuously enhanced the software with features such as processor, disk and network virtualization, dynamic hardware resource allocation (including fractional processor units), and reliability engineering ported from its mainframe designs.

IBM Db2 Family

IBM Db2, announced in 2017,, is the successor name to the 1980s-introduced DB2.The names DB2(tm) and Db2(tm) refer to database-server products developed by IBM. These products all support the relational model, but in recent years, some products have been extended to support object-relational features and non-relational structures like JSON and XML.

Although IBM declared that "z/OS is the main operating system for ... Db2", as of 2017 it is also available in the form of Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS).

IBM Notes

IBM Notes (formerly Lotus Notes; see Branding below) and IBM Domino (formerly Lotus Domino) are the client and server, respectively, of a collaborative client-server software platform sold by IBM.

IBM Notes provides business collaboration functions, such as email, calendars, to-do lists, contacts management, teamrooms, discussion forums, file sharing, microblogging, instant messaging, blogs, and user directories. IBM Notes can also be used with other IBM Domino applications and databases. IBM Notes 9 Social Edition removed integration with the office software package IBM Lotus Symphony, which had been integrated with the IBM Lotus Notes client in versions 8.x.

Lotus Development Corporation originally developed "Lotus Notes" in 1989. IBM bought the Lotus Corporation in 1995 and it became known as the Lotus Development division of IBM. As of 2015 it forms part of the IBM Software and Systems Group under the name "IBM Collaboration Solutions".

IBM Notes is a desktop workflow application, commonly used in corporate environments for email and to create discussion groups, websites, document libraries, custom applications and business workflows.

IBM PC compatible

IBM PC compatible computers are computers similar to the original IBM PC, XT, and AT, able to use the same software and expansion cards. Such computers used to be referred to as PC clones, or IBM clones. They duplicate almost exactly all the significant features of the PC architecture, facilitated by IBM's choice of commodity hardware components and various manufacturers' ability to reverse engineer the BIOS firmware using a "clean room design" technique. Columbia Data Products built the first clone of the IBM personal computer by a clean room implementation of its BIOS.Early IBM PC compatibles used the same computer bus as the original PC and AT models. The IBM AT compatible bus was later named the Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) bus by manufacturers of compatible computers. The term "IBM PC compatible" is now a historical description only, since IBM has ended its personal computer sales.

Descendants of the IBM PC compatibles comprise the majority of personal computers on the market presently with the dominant operating system being Microsoft Windows, although interoperability with the bus structure and peripherals of the original PC architecture may be limited or non-existent. Some computers ran MS-DOS but had enough hardware differences that IBM compatible software could not be used; examples include slight differences in the memory map, serial ports or video hardware. Only the Macintosh kept significant market share without compatibility with the IBM PC.

IBM Personal Computer

The IBM Personal Computer, commonly known as the IBM PC, is the original version and progenitor of the IBM PC compatible hardware platform. It is IBM model number 5150, and was introduced on August 12, 1981. It was created by a team of engineers and designers under the direction of Don Estridge of the IBM Entry Systems Division in Boca Raton, Florida.

The generic term "personal computer" ("PC") was in use years before 1981, applied as early as 1972 to the Xerox PARC's Alto, but because of the success of the IBM Personal Computer, the term "PC" came to also mean more specifically a desktop microcomputer compatible with IBM's Personal Computer branded products. Since the machine was based on open architecture, within a short time of its introduction, third-party suppliers of peripheral devices, expansion cards, and software proliferated; the influence of the IBM PC on the personal computer market was substantial in standardizing a platform for personal computers. "IBM compatible" became an important criterion for sales growth; after the 1980s, only the Apple Macintosh family kept a significant share of the microcomputer market without compatibility with the IBM personal computer.

IBM System/360

The IBM System/360 (S/360) is a family of mainframe computer systems that was announced by IBM on April 7, 1964, and delivered between 1965 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. The design made a clear distinction between architecture and implementation, allowing IBM to release a suite of compatible designs at different prices. All but the incompatible Model 44 and the most expensive systems used microcode to implement the instruction set, which featured 8-bit byte addressing and binary, decimal and (hexadecimal) floating-point calculations.

The launch of the System/360 family introduced IBM's Solid Logic Technology (SLT), a new technology that was the start of more powerful but smaller computers.The slowest System/360 model announced in 1964, the Model 30, could perform up to 34,500 instructions per second, with memory from 8 to 64 KB. High performance models came later. The 1967 IBM System/360 Model 91 could do up to 16.6 million instructions per second. The larger 360 models could have up to 8 MB of main memory, though main memory that big was unusual—a large installation might have as little as 256 KB of main storage, but 512 KB, 768 KB or 1024 KB was more common. Up to 8 megabytes of slower (8 microsecond) Large Capacity Storage (LCS) was also available.

The IBM 360 was extremely successful in the market, allowing customers to purchase a smaller system with the knowledge they would always be able to migrate upward if their needs grew, without reprogramming of application software or replacing peripheral devices. Many consider the design one of the most successful computers in history, influencing computer design for years to come.

The chief architect of System/360 was Gene Amdahl, and the project was managed by Fred Brooks, responsible to Chairman Thomas J. Watson Jr. The commercial release was piloted by another of Watson's lieutenants, John R. Opel, who managed the launch of IBM’s System 360 mainframe family in 1964.Application-level compatibility (with some restrictions) for System/360 software is maintained to the present day with the System z mainframe servers.


MS-DOS ( em-es-DOSS; acronym for Microsoft Disk Operating System) is an operating system for x86-based personal computers mostly developed by Microsoft. Collectively, MS-DOS, its rebranding as IBM PC DOS, and some operating systems attempting to be compatible with MS-DOS, are sometimes referred to as "DOS" (which is also the generic acronym for disk operating system). MS-DOS was the main operating system for IBM PC compatible personal computers during the 1980s and the early 1990s, when it was gradually superseded by operating systems offering a graphical user interface (GUI), in various generations of the graphical Microsoft Windows operating system.

MS-DOS was the result of the language developed in the seventies that was used by IBM for its mainframe operating system. Microsoft acquired the rights to meet IBM specifications. IBM licensed and re-released it on August 12, 1981 as PC DOS 1.0 for use in their PCs. Although MS-DOS and PC DOS were initially developed in parallel by Microsoft and IBM, the two products diverged after twelve years, in 1993, with recognizable differences in compatibility, syntax, and capabilities.

During its lifetime, several competing products were released for the x86 platform, and MS-DOS went through eight versions, until development ceased in 2000. Initially MS-DOS was targeted at Intel 8086 processors running on computer hardware using floppy disks to store and access not only the operating system, but application software and user data as well. Progressive version releases delivered support for other mass storage media in ever greater sizes and formats, along with added feature support for newer processors and rapidly evolving computer architectures. Ultimately it was the key product in Microsoft's growth from a programming language company to a diverse software development firm, providing the company with essential revenue and marketing resources. It was also the underlying basic operating system on which early versions of Windows ran as a GUI. It is a flexible operating system, and consumes negligible installation space.

Mainframe computer

Mainframe computers or mainframes (colloquially referred to as "big iron") are computers used primarily by large organizations for critical applications; bulk data processing, such as census, industry and consumer statistics, enterprise resource planning; and transaction processing. They are larger and have more processing power than some other classes of computers: minicomputers, servers, workstations, and personal computers.

The term originally referred to the large cabinets called "main frames" that housed the central processing unit and main memory of early computers. Later, the term was used to distinguish high-end commercial machines from less powerful units. Most large-scale computer system architectures were established in the 1960s, but continue to evolve. Mainframe computers are often used as servers.


OS/2 is a series of computer operating systems, initially created by Microsoft and IBM under the leadership of IBM software designer Ed Iacobucci. As a result of a feud between the two companies over how to position OS/2 relative to Microsoft's new Windows 3.1 operating environment, the two companies severed the relationship in 1992 and OS/2 development fell to IBM exclusively. The name stands for "Operating System/2", because it was introduced as part of the same generation change release as IBM's "Personal System/2 (PS/2)" line of second-generation personal computers. The first version of OS/2 was released in December 1987 and newer versions were released until December 2001.

OS/2 was intended as a protected mode successor of PC DOS. Notably, basic system calls were modelled after MS-DOS calls; their names even started with "Dos" and it was possible to create "Family Mode" applications: text mode applications that could work on both systems. Because of this heritage, OS/2 shares similarities with Unix, Xenix, and Windows NT.

IBM discontinued its support for OS/2 on 31 December 2006. Since then, it has been updated, maintained and marketed under the name eComStation. In 2015 it was announced that a new OEM distribution of OS/2 would be released that was to be called ArcaOS. ArcaOS is available for purchase.


PowerPC (with the backronym Performance Optimization With Enhanced RISC – Performance Computing, sometimes abbreviated as PPC) is a reduced instruction set computing (RISC) instruction set architecture (ISA) created by the 1991 Apple–IBM–Motorola alliance, known as AIM. PowerPC, as an evolving instruction set, has since 2006 been named Power ISA, while the old name lives on as a trademark for some implementations of Power Architecture-based processors.

PowerPC was the cornerstone of AIM's PReP and Common Hardware Reference Platform initiatives in the 1990s. Originally intended for personal computers, the architecture is well known for being used by Apple's Power Macintosh, PowerBook, iMac, iBook, and Xserve lines from 1994 until 2006, when Apple migrated to Intel's x86. It has since become a niche in personal computers, but remains popular for embedded and high-performance processors. Its use in video game consoles and embedded applications provided an array of uses. In addition, PowerPC CPUs are still used in AmigaOne and third party AmigaOS 4 personal computers.

PowerPC is largely based on IBM's earlier POWER instruction set architecture, and retains a high level of compatibility with it; the architectures have remained close enough that the same programs and operating systems will run on both if some care is taken in preparation; newer chips in the POWER series use the Power ISA.

Punched card

A punched card or punch card is a piece of stiff paper that can be used to contain digital data represented by the presence or absence of holes in predefined positions. Digital data can be used for data processing applications or, in earlier examples, used to directly control automated machinery.

Punched cards were widely used through much of the 20th century in the data processing industry, where specialized and increasingly complex unit record machines, organized into semiautomatic data processing systems, used punched cards for data input, output, and storage. Many early digital computers used punched cards, often prepared using keypunch machines, as the primary medium for input of both computer programs and data.

While punched cards are now obsolete as a storage medium, as of 2012, some voting machines still use punched cards to record votes.


SPSS Statistics is a software package used for interactive, or batched, statistical analysis. Long produced by SPSS Inc., it was acquired by IBM in 2009. The current versions (2015) are named IBM SPSS Statistics.

The software name originally stood for Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), reflecting the original market, although the software is now popular in other fields as well, including the health sciences and marketing.

Watson (computer)

Watson is a question-answering computer system capable of answering questions posed in natural language, developed in IBM's DeepQA project by a research team led by principal investigator David Ferrucci. Watson was named after IBM's first CEO, industrialist Thomas J. Watson.The computer system was initially developed to answer questions on the quiz show Jeopardy! and, in 2011, the Watson computer system competed on Jeopardy! against legendary champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings winning the first place prize of $1 million.In February 2013, IBM announced that Watson software system's first commercial application would be for utilization management decisions in lung cancer treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, in conjunction with health insurance company WellPoint. IBM Watson's former business chief, Manoj Saxena, says that 90% of nurses in the field who use Watson now follow its guidance.

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