IBM History

Profile of a Computer Manufacturing Giant

The former IBM building (completed in 1973) in Chicago, Illinois, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
The former IBM building (completed in 1973) in Chicago, Illinois, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Elizabeth Beard/Getty Images

IBM or International Business Machines is a well-known American computer manufacturer, founded by Thomas J. Watson (born 1874-02-17). IBM is also known as "Big Blue" after the color of its logo. The company has made everything from mainframes to personal computers and has been immensely successful selling business computers.

The Beginning of IBM

On June 16, 1911, three successful 19th-century companies decided to merge, marking the beginnings of IBM history.

The Tabulating Machine Company, the International Time Recording Company, and the Computing Scale Company of America joined together to incorporate and form one company, the Computing Tabulating Recording Company. In 1914, Thomas J. Watson Senior joined CTR as CEO and held that title for the next twenty years, turning the company into the multi-national entity.

In 1924, Watson changed the company’s name to International Business Machines Corporation or IBM. From the beginning, IBM defined itself not by selling products, which ranged from commercial scales to punch card tabulators, but by its research and development.

IBM History of Business Computers

IBM began designing and manufacturing calculators in the 1930s, using the technology of their own punch card processing equipment. In 1944, IBM together with Harvard University financed the invention of the Mark 1 computer, the first machine to compute long calculations automatically. By 1953, IBM was ready to completely produce their own computers, which began with the IBM 701 EDPM, their first commercially successful general-purpose computer. And the 701 was just the beginning.

IBM History of Personal Computers

In July 1980, Microsoft's Bill Gates agreed to create an operating system for IBM's new computer for the home consumer, which IBM released on August 12, 1981. The first IBM PC ran on a 4.77 MHz Intel 8088 microprocessor. IBM had now stepped into the home consumer market, sparking the computer revolution.

Outstanding IBM Electrical Engineers

David Bradley joined IBM immediately upon graduation. In September 1980, David Bradley became one of the "original 12" engineers working on the IBM Personal Computer and was responsible for the ROM BIOS code.

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Bellis, Mary. "IBM History." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Bellis, Mary. (2020, August 27). IBM History. Retrieved from Bellis, Mary. "IBM History." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 1, 2023).