IBM Celebrates a Century in Business

Sharon Rieger's picture
Friday, June 17, 2011

Google, Apple and Facebook get all the attention. But the forgettable everyday tasks of technology - saving a file on your laptop, swiping your ATM card to get 40 bucks, scanning a gallon of milk at the checkout line - that's all IBM.

International Business Machines turned 100 on Thursday without much fanfare. But its much younger competitors owe a lot to Big Blue.

After all, where would Groupon be without the supermarket bar code? Or Google without the mainframe computer?

"They were kind of like a cornerstone of that whole enterprise that has become the heart of the computer industry in the US," says Bob Djurdjevic, a former IBM employee and president of Annex Research.

IBM dates to June 16, 1911, when three companies that made scales, punch-clocks for work and other machines merged to form the Computing Tabulating Recording Co. The modern-day name followed in 1924.

With a plant in Endicott, NY, the new business also made cheese slicers and - significantly for its future - machines that read data stored on punch cards. By the 1930s, IBM's cards were keeping track of 26 million Americans for the newly launched Social Security program.

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