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This article is about the International Business Machines Corporation; see also: Inclusion body myositis

International Business Machines Corporation (IBM, or colloquially, Big Blue) (incorporated June 15, 1911, in operation since 1888) is headquartered in Armonk, New York, USA. The company manufactures and sells computer hardware, software, and services.

With over 300,000 employees worldwide and revenues of $89 billion (figures from 2003), IBM is the largest information technology company in the world, and one of the few with a continuous history spanning the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. It has consultants in over 160 countries and development labs located all over the world. IBM Research has eight research labs located throughout the Northern Hemisphere, with half of those locations outside of the United States.

It has a major presence in virtually every segment of information technology, from mainframe computers (where it has had market dominance for decades) to nanotechnology. In recent years, more and more of its revenue comes from services and consulting activities rather than manufacturing. Samuel J. Palmisano was elected CEO on January 29, 2002 after having been involved in growing that consulting activity, which has turned IBM's Global Services unit into a business with a hundred billion dollars in backlog in 2004.

Table of contents
1 Current business activities
2 History
3 Business culture
4 Trivia
5 Recent acquisitions
6 Spinoffs
7 See also
8 External links

Current business activities

(click on the
year to go to
IBM's page of
for that year)
Year Patents

In 2002, IBM announced the beginning of a $10 billion program to research and implement the infrastructure technology necessary to be able to provide supercomputer-level resources "on demand" to all businesses as a metered utility.

In recent years IBM has steadily increased its patent portfolio, which is valuable for cross-licensing with other companies. In every year from 1993 until 2003, IBM has been granted significantly more U.S. patents than any other company. That eleven-year period has resulted in over 25,000 patents for which IBM is the primary assignee. [1]

Protection of the company's intellectual property has grown into a business in its own right, generating over $10 billion dollars [1] to the bottom line for the company during this period. [1], [1]


IBM's history dates back decades before the development of computers – before that it developed punched card data processing equipment. It originated as the Computing Tabulating Recording (CTR) Corporation, which was incorporated on June 15, 1911 in Binghamton, New York. This company was a merger of the Tabulating Machine Corporation, the Computing Scale Corporation and the International Time Recording Company. The president of the Tabulating Machine Corporation at that time was Herman Hollerith, who had founded the company in 1896. Thomas J. Watson Sr, the founder of IBM, became General Manager of CTR in 1914 and President in 1915. On February 14, 1924, CTR changed its name to International Business Machines Corporation.

The companies that merged to form CTR manufactured a wide range of products, including employee time keeping systems, weighing scales, automatic meat slicers, and most importantly for the development of the computer, punched card equipment. Over time CTR came to focus purely on the punched card business, and ceased its involvement in these other activities.

During World War II, IBM's German subsidiary Dehomag (an acronym formed from "German Hollerith Machine Company Ltd") provided the Nazi regime with punch card machines. Dehomag was taken over by the Nazis in 1939. In 2001 author Edwin Black published a book titled IBM and the Holocaust, which alleged that although IBM did not control Dehomag once World War II began, Thomas J. Watson nevertheless knew of the German regime's activities and was indifferent to any moral issues. The credibility of Black's book has been questioned, as has its claim that the Holocaust would have been impossible without Dehomag's data processing systems. As of 2004 IBM's possible complicity in the Holocaust is the subject of at least one unresolved lawsuit. IBM has donated more than 10,000 pages of archived documents concerning Dehomag to Hohenheim University in Germany and New York University.

IBM's success in the mid-1960s led to enquiries as to IBM antitrust violations by the U.S. Department of Justice, which filed a complaint for the case U.S. v. IBM in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, on January 17, 1969. The suit alleged that IBM violated the Section 2 of the Sherman Act by monopolizing or attempting to monopolize the general purpose electronic digital computer system market, specifically computers designed primarily for business. Litigation continued until 1983, and had a significant impact on the company's practices.

On January 19, 1993 IBM announced a $4.97 billion loss for 1992, which was at that time the largest single-year corporate loss in United States history. Since that loss, IBM has made major changes in its business activities, shifting its focus significantly away from components and hardware and towards software and services.

Business culture

IBM has often been described as having a sales-centric or a sales-oriented business culture. Traditionally, many of its executives and general managers would be chosen from its sales force. In addition, middle and top management would often be enlisted to give direct support to salesmen in the process of making sales to important customers.

Over time, the company has become increasing technical; in 2003 over 178,000 of its employees were considered part of its technical community, with 38,000 of them [1] working on software.

Historically, a blue suit, white shirt and dark tie was the public uniform of IBM employees in the 20th century. By the 1990s, IBM relaxed these codes, and currently the behavior and dress of IBM employees does not differ appreciably from that of their counterparts in most other large technology companies.

IBM Japan is one of the successful few foreign companies in the Japanese market; the other major players are General Electric and Boeing.

IBM's culture has been recently influenced by the open source movement. The company invests billions of dollars in services and software based on Linux. This includes over 300 Linux kernel developers. IBM's open source involvement has not been trouble-free, however; see SCO v. IBM.


Recent acquisitions


See also

External links