The IBM Logo

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

With its 316,000 employees worldwide and revenues of $81 billion (figures from 2002), it 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, development labs located all over the world, and eight research labs located throughout the Northern Hemisphere, with half of those researchers based 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 consulting activities rather than manufacturing. Samuel J. Palmisano was elected CEO on January 29, 2002 after having been instrumental in helping to grow that consulting activity, which has turned its Global Services unit into a business with tens of billions of dollars in backlog.

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

Current business activities

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.

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 aggressively turned to patents as a lucrative source of revenue. 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.

The aggressive protection of the company's intellectual property has grown into a business of its own, generating billions of dollars of profit for the company during this period.


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. 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.

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's culture has been 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.


Whilst IBM did not invent the personal computer, architectures cloned from its original 1981 design (which relied on third-party componentry) became the industry standard. Microsoft and Intel became monopoly suppliers of two of the key components of compatible systems.

IBM invented many of the core technologies used in all forms of computing, including the Winchester hard disk drive, the cursor (on video display devices) and the floppy disk.

The IBM Logo was designed by Paul Rand.

Recent IBM acquisitions include the following:

See also

External links