Timeline of IBM History

A timeline of the major achievements of IBM.

IBM or big blue as the company has been affectionately called has been a major innovator of computer and computer related products during this century and the last. However, before there was IBM, there was C-T-R, and before C-T-R there was the companies that were to one day merge and become the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company.

1896 Tabulating Machine Company

Herman Hollerith - Punch Cards
Herman Hollerith - Punch Cards. LOC
Herman Hollerith founded the Tabulating Machine Company in 1896, which was later incorporated in 1905, and later still became part of C-T-R. Hollerith received the first patents for his Electric Tabulating Machine in 1889.

1911 Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company

In 1911, Charles F. Flint, a trust organizer, oversaw the merger of Herman Hollerith's Tabulating Machine Company with two others: the Computing Scale Company of America and the International Time Recording Company. The three companies merged into one company called the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company or C-T-R. C-T-R sold many different products including cheese slicers, however, they soon concentrated on manufacturing and marketing accounting machines, such as: time recorders, dial recorders, tabulators, and automatic scales.

1914 Thomas J. Watson, Senior

In 1914, a former executive at the National Cash Register Company, Thomas J. Watson, Senior becomes the general manager of C-T-R. According to IBM's historians, "Watson implemented a series of effective business tactics. He preached a positive outlook, and his favorite slogan, "THINK," became a mantra for C-T-R's employees. 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. He also expanded the company's operations to Europe, South America, Asia and Australia."

1924 International Business Machines

In 1924, the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company is renamed the International Business Machines Corporation or IBM.

1935 Accounting Contract With U.S. Government

The U.S. Social Security Act was passed in 1935 and IBM's punched card equipment was used by the U.S. government to create and maintain employment records for the then current population of 26 million Americans.

1943 Vacuum Tube Multiplier

IBM invents the Vacuum Tube Multiplier in 1943, which used vacuum tubes for performing calculations electronically.

1944 IBM's First Computer The Mark 1

MARK I Computer
MARK I Computer. LOC

In 1944, IBM and Harvard University jointly developed and built a Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator or ASCC , also known as the Mark I. This was IBM's first attempt to build a computer.

1945 Watson Scientific Computing Laboratory

IBM founded the Watson Scientific Computing Laboratory at Columbia University in New York.

1952 IBM 701

IBM 701 EDPM Control Board
IBM 701 EDPM Control Board. Mary Bellis
In 1952, the IBM 701 was built, IBM's first solo computer project and its first production computer. The 701 uses IBM's magnetic tape drive vacuum technology, a precursor to magnetic storage medium.

1953 IBM 650, IBM 702

In 1953, the IBM 650 Magnetic Drum Calculator electronic computer and the IBM 702 were built. The IBM 650 becomes a best seller.

1954 IBM 704

In 1954, the IBM 704 was built, the 704 computer was the first to have indexing, floating point arithmetic, and an improved reliable magnetic core memory.

1955 Transistor Based Computer

In 1955, IBM stopped using vacuum tube technology in their computers and built the 608 transistor calculator, a solid state computer with no tubes.

1956 Magnetic Hard Disk Storage

In 1956, the RAMAC 305 and RAMAC 650 machines were built. RAMAC stood for Random Access Method of Accounting and Control machines. RAMAC machines used magnetic hard disks for data storage.

1959 10,000 Units Sold

In 1959, the IBM 1401 data processing system was introduced, the first computer ever to achieve sales of over 10,000 units. Also in 1959, the IBM 1403 printer was built.

1964 System 360

In 1964, the IBM System 360 family of computers were. System 360 was the world's first family of computers with compatible software and hardware. IBM described it as "a bold departure from the monolithic, one-size-fits-all mainframe," and Fortune magazine called it "IBM's $5 billion gamble."

1966 DRAM Memory Chip

Robert Dennard Inventor of DRAM
Robert Dennard - Inventor DRAM. Courtesy of IBM

In 1944, IBM researcher Robert H. Dennard invented DRAM memory. Robert Dennard's invention of one-transistor dynamic RAM called DRAM was a core development in the launch of today's computer industry, setting the stage for development of increasingly dense and cost-effective memory for computers.

1970 IBM System 370

The 1970 IBM System 370, was the first computer to use virtual memory for the first time.

1971 Speech Recognition & Computer Braille

IBM invented its first operational application of speech recognition that "enables customer engineers servicing equipment to "talk" to and receive "spoken" answers from a computer that can recognize about 5,000 words." IBM also develops an experimental terminal that prints computer responses in Braille for the blind.

1974 Networking Protocol

In 1974, IBM invents a networking protocol called Systems Network Architecture (SNA). .

1981 RISC Architecture

IBM invents the experimental 801. The 901 ia a Reduced Instruction Set Computer or RISC architecture invented by IBM researcher John Cocke. RISC technology greatly boosts computer speed by using simplified machine instructions for frequently used functions.

1981 IBM PC

IBM PC. Mary Bellis
In 1981, the IBM PC iwas built, one of the first computers intended for home consumer use. The IBM PC costs $1,565, and was the smallest and cheapest computer built to-date. IBM hired Microsoft to write an operating system for its PC, which was called MS-DOS.

1983 Scanning Tunneling Microscopy

IBM researchers invented scanning tunneling microscopy, that produces for the first time three-dimensional images of the atomic surfaces of silicon, gold, nickel and other solids.

1986 Nobel Prize

Photo Taken By Scanning Tunneling Microscope - STM
Photo Taken By Scanning Tunneling Microscope - STM. Courtesy IBM
IBM Zurich Research Laboratory fellows Gerd K. Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer win the 1986 Nobel Prize in physics for their work in scanning tunneling microscopy. Drs. Binnig and Rohrer are recognized for developing a powerful microscopy technique which permits scientists to make images of surfaces so detailed that individual atoms may be seen.

1987 Nobel Prize

IBM's Zurich Research Laboratory fellows J. Georg Bednorz and K. Alex Mueller receive the 1987 Nobel Prize for physics for their breakthrough discovery of high-temperature superconductivity in a new class of materials. This is the second consecutive year the Nobel Prize for physics has been presented to IBM researchers.

1990 Scanning Tunneling Microscope

IBM scientists discover how to move and position individual atoms on a metal surface, using a scanning tunneling microscope. The technique is demonstrated at IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California, where scientists created the world's first structure: the letters "I-B-M" - assembled one atom at a time.