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Jan 24 2011   3:40AM GMT

IBM, the inventor, celebrating its 100th year

Sasirekha R Profile: Sasirekha R

IBM, the inventor, celebrating its 100th year

IBM has evolved from a small business that made scales, time clocks and tabulating machines to what it is today. The video celebrating its 100th year http://www.ibm.com/ibm100/us/en/films/index.html has 100 people each present the IBM achievement recorded in the year they were born – flows from the oldest person to the youngest, offering a whirlwind history of the company and culminating with its prospects for the future.

While there definitely have been plus and minus faced by the company of this old, IBM is an inventor is not something anyone would disagree with.

IBM incorporated in the state of New York on June 16, 1911 as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (C-T-R), traces its origins to developments at the close of the 19th century – first dial recorder invented by Dr. Alexander Dey in 1888 and first time recording company Bundy in 1889. Interestingly the video mentions that Watson changed the name of the company to “International Business Machines (IBM) in 1924. Decade-wise highlights available at http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/history/history_intro.html.

James Wares Bryce who joined IBM in 1917 – credited with more than 500 U.S. and foreign patents -was honored as one of the ten “greatest living inventors” in 1936. Other significant contributors are listed at http://www.ibm.com/ibm100/us/en/icons/patents/team/

A basic building block of the fully electronic computers – method for adding and subtracting using vacuum tubes – is invented by IBM team in 1940.  IBM rightly claims that its history is shaped on this pattern -using innovation to create intellectual property.

IBM inventions include almost everything in the field of computing – from FORTRAN to relational databases to the Universal Product Code, from magnetic tape drives and random access memory, to the floppy disk and the scanning tunneling microscope. The impact IBM has had on the world – from the Portable Computer, ATM, employee records maintenance, Airlines reservation and space launch – is definitely impressive.

IBM has a longstanding history of patent leadership with more than 70000 inventions. IBM credits Thomas Watson Sr.’s vision and investments in R&D for this culture. 2010 was the 18th consecutive year that IBM topped the list of the world’s most inventive companies. In 2010, the company was awarded 5,896 patents, exceeding the combined issuances of Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, EMC and Google. IBM currently supports the Peer-to-Patent project (http://www.peertopatent.org/), an effort to improve patent quality by opening the examination process to community review.

IBM truly represents Watson’s belief that “all the problems in the world can be settled easily if people are only willing to think”!

Today, IBM reflects on 100 years of innovation, bold risks and transformative breakthroughs – celebrating the big wins and the mistakes overcome.  Its future promise is “system that think like human!”.

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