IBM is the most iconic name in computing. With all due apologies to Microsoft and Apple, and Johnny-come-lately Google, here is a firm that set the standards for big-iron computing in the 1950s and is still a potent force today. But how well do you know Big Blue?
The company pre-dates computers, of course, being the master of punch-card machines before the Second World War, and the creator of the IBM golfball typewriter. But its gone on setting records, leading the way in electron microscopy and nano-tech along with cloud computing and analytics.
Known for its salesmen – singing the company marching son “Ever Onward IBM”, as they circled the world in their blue suits and white shirts – the company created the mainframe market and then the business PC market in the 1980s.
Since then, IBM has been involved with every computer revolution, including RISC computing, virtualisation, cloud computing, Big Data and open source. It’s bought and sold giants such as Lotus and PwC, and it has spun off success in fields such as printing.
For a giant company that is sometimes seen as old-fashioned, IBM is full of surprises. It’s a leader in inventions, and it pioneered equal opportunities employment, even in the racist Southern US in the mid-20th century.
The company’s most recent transformation has been to build a strong services line, and divest well-loved hardware lines that are not strategic (such as printers and PCs). That achievement must be making rival Hewlett-Packard weep with jealousy.
There are plenty of other facts you may or may not know about IBM, though. What did it do in the war, for instance? Show us what you know?