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International Business Machines Corporation, abbreviated IBM and nicknamed "Big Blue", is a multinational computer technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, USA. The company is one of the few information technology companies with a continuous history dating back to the 19th century. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and computer software, and offers infrastructure services, hosting services, and consulting services in areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology. Nanotechnology & Nanoscience.

IBM has been known through most of its recent history as the world's largest computer company; with over 388,000 employees worldwide, IBM is the largest information technology employer in the world. Despite falling behind Hewlett-Packard in total revenue since 2006, it remains the most profitable. IBM holds more patents than any other U.S. based technology company. It has engineers and consultants in over 170 countries and IBM Research has eight laboratories worldwide. IBM employees have earned three Nobel Prizes, four Turing Awards, five National Medals of Technology, and five National Medals of Science. As a chip maker, IBM has been among the Worldwide Top 20 Semiconductor Sales Leaders in past years, and in 2007 IBM ranked second in the list of largest software companies in the world.


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In 2008 IBM acquired Cognos. As Cognos had made previous acquisitions of its own, IBM became the owner of TM1 (previously owned by Applix) and Adaytum.


The company which became IBM was founded in 1888 as the Tabulating Machine Company by Herman Hollerith, in Broome County, New York. It was incorporated as Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation (CTR) on June 16, 1911, and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1916. IBM adopted its current name in 1924, when it became a Fortune 500 company.

The author Edwin Black has alleged that, during World War II, IBM CEO Thomas J. Watson used overseas subsidiaries to provide the Third Reich with Unit record equipment data processing machines, supplies and services that helped the Nazis to efficiently track down European Jews, with sizeable profits for the company. IBM denies that they had control over these subsidiaries after the Nazis took control of them. A lawsuit against IBM based on these allegations was dismissed.

In the 1950s, IBM became the dominant vendor in the emerging computer industry with the release of the IBM 701 and other models in the IBM 700/7000 series of mainframes. The company's dominance became even more pronounced in the 1960s and 1970s with the IBM System/360 and IBM System/370 mainframes, however antitrust actions by the United States Department of Justice the rise of minicomputer companies like Digital Equipment Corporation and Data General, and the introduction of the microprocessor all contributed to dilution of IBM's position in the industry, eventually leading the company to diversify into other areas including personal computers, software, and services.

In 1981 IBM introduced the IBM Personal Computer which is the original version and progenitor of the IBM PC compatible hardware platform. Descendants of the IBM PC compatibles make up the majority of microcomputers on the market today, though IBM sold its PC division to the Chinese company Lenovo on May 1, 2005 for $655 million in cash and $600 million in Lenovo stock.

On January 25, 2007, Ricoh announced purchase of IBM Printing Systems Division for $725 million and investment in 3-year joint venture to form a new Ricoh subsidiary, InfoPrint Solutions Company; Ricoh will own a 51% share, and IBM will own a 49% share in InfoPrint.

Current projects


Eclipse is a platform-independent, Java-based software framework. Eclipse was originally a proprietary product developed by IBM as a successor of the VisualAge family of tools. Eclipse has subsequently been released as open source software under the Eclipse Public License.


developerWorks is a website run by IBM for software developers and IT professionals. It contains a large number of how-to articles and tutorials, as well as software downloads and code samples, discussion forums, podcasts, blogs, wikis, and other resources for developers and technical professionals. Subjects range from open, industry-standard technologies like Java, Linux, SOA and web services, web development, Ajax, PHP, and XML to IBM's products (WebSphere, Rational, Lotus, Tivoli and DB2). In 2007 developerWorks was inducted into the Jolt Hall of Fame.


alphaWorks is IBM's source for emerging software technologies. These technologies include:

  • Flexible Internet Evaluation Report Architecture - A highly flexible architecture for the design, display, and reporting of Internet surveys.
  • IBM History Flow Visualization Application - A tool for visualizing dynamic, evolving documents and the interactions of multiple collaborating authors.
  • IBM Linux on POWER Performance Simulator - A tool that provides users of Linux on Power a set of performance models for IBM's POWER processors.
  • Database File Archive And Restoration Management - An application for archiving and restoring hard disk files using file references stored in a database.
  • Policy Management for Autonomic Computing - A policy-based autonomic management infrastructure that simplifies the automation of IT and business processes.
  • FairUCE - A spam filter that verifies sender identity instead of filtering content.
  • Unstructured Information Management Architecture (UIMA) SDK - A Java SDK that supports the implementation, composition, and deployment of applications working with unstructured information.
  • Accessibility Browser - A web-browser specifically designed to assist people with visual impairments, to be released as open-source software. Also known as the "A-Browser," the technology will aim to eliminate the need for a mouse, relying instead completely on voice-controls, buttons and predefined shortcut keys.

Semiconductor design and manufacturing

Virtually all modern console gaming systems use microprocessors developed by IBM. The Xbox 360] contains the Xenon tri-core processor, which was designed and produced by IBM in less than 24 months. Sony's PlayStation 3 features the Cell BE microprocessor designed jointly by IBM, Toshiba, and Sony. Nintendo's seventh-generation console, Wii, features an IBM chip codenamed Broadway. The older Nintendo GameCube also utilizes the Gekko processor, designed by IBM.

In May 2002, IBM and, Inc. announced the Butterfly Grid, a commercial grid for the online video gaming market. In March 2006, IBM announced separate agreements with Hoplon Infotainment, Online Game Services Incorporated (OGSI), and RenderRocket to provide on-demand content management and blade server computing resources

Open Client Offering

IBM announced it will launch its new software, called "Open Client Offering" which is to run on Microsoft's Windows, Linux and Apple's Macintosh. The company states that its new product allows businesses to offer employees a choice of using the same software on Windows and its alternatives. This means that "Open Client Offering" is to cut costs of managing whether Linux or Apple relative to Windows. There will be no necessity for companies to pay Microsoft for its licenses for operations since the operations will no longer rely on software which is Windows-based. One of Microsoft's office alternatives is the Open Document Format software, whose development IBM supports. It is going to be used for several tasks like: word processing, presentations, along with collaboration with Lotus Notes, instant messaging and blog tools as well as an Internet Explorer competitor – the Firefox web browser. IBM plans to install Open Client on 5 percent of its desktop PCs.

UC2: Unified Communications and Collaboration

UC2 (Unified Communications and Collaboration) is an IBM and Cisco joint project based on Eclipse and OSGi. It will offer the numerous Eclipse application developers a unified platform for an easier work environment.

The software based on UC2 platform will provide major enterprises with easy-to-use communication solutions, such as the Lotus based Sametime. In the future the Sametime users will benefit from such additional functions as click-to-call and voice mailing.IBM and Cisco: Attempt to Unite the Communication Software Developers

Internal programs

Extreme Blue is a company initiative that uses experienced IBM engineers, talented interns, and business managers to develop high-value technology. The project is designed to analyze emerging business needs and the technologies that can solve them. These projects mostly involve rapid-prototyping of high-profile software and hardware projects.

In May 2007, IBM unveiled Project Big Green -- a re-direction of $1 billion per year across its businesses to increase energy efficiency.

IBM Software Group

This group is one of the major divisions of IBM. The various brands include:

  • Information Management Software — database servers and tools, text analytics, content management, business process management and business intelligence.
  • Lotus Software — Groupware, collaboration and business software. Acquired in 1995.
  • Rational Software — Software development and application lifecycle management. Acquired in 2002.
  • Tivoli Software — Systems management. Acquired in 1996.
  • WebSphere — Integration and application infrastructure software..

Environmental Record

IBM has a long history of dealing with its environmental problems. It established a corporate policy on environmental protection in 1971, with the support of a comprehensive global environmental management system. According to IBM’s stats, its total hazardous waste decreased by 44 percent over the past five years, and has decreased by 94.6 percent since 1987. IBM's total hazardous waste calculation consists of waste from both non-manufacturing and manufacturing operations. Waste from manufacturing operations includes waste recycled in closed-loop systems where process chemicals are recovered and for subsequent reuse, rather than just disposing and using new chemical materials. Over the years, IBM has redesigned processes to eliminate almost all closed loop recycling and now uses more environmental-friendly materials in their place. Environmental Protection

IBM was recognized as one of the "Top 20 Best Workplaces for Commuters" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2005. This was to recognize the Fortune 500 companies that provided their employees with excellent commuter benefits that helped reduce traffic and air pollution. Environmental Protection

However, the birthplace of IBM, Endicott, suffered IBM's pollution for decades. IBM used liquid cleaning agents in its circuit board assembly operation for more than two decades, and six spills and leaks incidents were recorded, including one recorded 1979 leak of 4,100 gallons from an underground tank. These left behind volatile organic compounds in the town's soil and aquifer. Trace elements of volatile organic compounds have been identified in the Endicott’s drinking water, but the levels are within regulatory limits. Also, from 1980, IBM has pumped out 78,000 gallons of chemicals, including trichloroethane, Freon, benzene and perchloroethene to the air and allegedly caused several cancer cases among the villagers. IBM Endicott has been identified by the Department of Environmental Conservation as the major source of pollution, though traces of contaminants from a local dry cleaner and other polluters were also found. Despite the amount of pollutant, state health officials cannot say whether air or water pollution in Endicott has actually caused any health problems. Village officials say tests show that the water is safe to drink. In an I.B.M. Village, Pollution Fears Taint Relations With Neighbors

Corporate affairs

Diversity and workforce issues

IBM's efforts to promote workforce diversity and equal opportunity date back at least to World War I, when the company hired disabled veterans. IBM was the only technology company ranked in Working Mother magazine's Top 10 for 2004, and one of two technology companies in 2005 (the other company being Hewlett-Packard). 100 best companies for working mothers 2004 and 2005.

On September 21, 1953, Thomas J. Watson, the CEO at the time, sent out a very controversial letter to all IBM employees stating that IBM needed to hire the best people, regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or gender. In 1984, IBM added sexual preference. He stated that this would give IBM a competitive advantage because IBM would then be able to hire talented people its competitors would turn down. IBM's EO Policy letter is IBM's foundation for diversity.

The company has traditionally resisted labor union organizing, although unions represent some IBM workers outside the United States.

In the 1990s, two major pension program changes, including a conversion to a cash balance plan, resulted in an employee class action lawsuit alleging age discrimination. IBM employees won the lawsuit and arrived at a partial settlement, although appeals are still underway. IBM also settled a major overtime class-action lawsuit in 2006. IBM settles overtime lawsuit for $65 million

Historically IBM has had a good reputation of long-term staff retention with few large scale layoffs. In more recent years there have been a number of broad sweeping cuts to the workforce as IBM attempts to adapt to changing market conditions and a declining profit base. After posting weaker than expected revenues in the first quarter of 2005, IBM eliminated 14,500 positions from its workforce, predominantly in Europe. In May 2005, IBM Ireland said to staff that the MD(Micro-electronics Division) facility was closing down by the end of 2005 and offered a settlement to staff. However, all staff that wished to stay with the Company were redeployed within IBM Ireland. The production moved to a company called Amkor in Singapore who purchased IBM's Microelectronics business in Singapore and is widely agreed that IBM promised this Company a full load capacity in return for the purchase of the facility. On June 8 2005, IBM Canada Ltd. eliminated approximately 700 positions. IBM projects these as part of a strategy to "rebalance" its portfolio of professional skills & businesses. IBM India and other IBM offices in China, the Philippines and Costa Rica have been witnessing a recruitment boom and steady growth in number of employees due to lower wages.

On October 10 2005, IBM became the first major company in the world to formally commit to not using genetic information in its employment decisions. This came just a few months after IBM announced its support of the National Geographic Society's Genographic Project.

Gay rights

IBM provides employees' same-sex partners with benefits and provides an anti-discrimination clause. The Human Rights Campaign has consistently rated IBM 100% on its index of gay-friendliness since 2003 (in 2002, the year it began compiling its report on major companies, IBM scored 86%). HRC Corporate Equality Index Score

Board of directors

Current members of the board of directors of IBM are:

  • Cathleen Black President, Hearst Magazines
  • William Brody President, Johns Hopkins University
  • Ken Chenault Chairman and CEO, American Express Company
  • Juergen Dormann Chairman of the Board, ABB Ltd
  • Michael Eskew Chairman and CEO, United Parcel Service, Inc.
  • Shirley Ann Jackson President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Minoru Makihara Senior Corporate Advisor and former Chairman, Mitsubishi Corporation
  • Lucio Noto Managing Partner, Midstream Partners LLC
  • James W. Owens Chairman and CEO, Caterpillar Inc.
  • Samuel J. Palmisano Chairman, President and CEO, IBM
  • Joan Spero President, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
  • Sidney Taurell, Chairman and CEO, Eli Lilly and Company
  • Lorenzo Zambrano Chairman and CEO, Cemex SAB de CV

Further reading

Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. 2002 Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-715448-8
Robert Slater 1999 Saving Big Blue: IBM's Lou Gerstner McGraw Hill
Emerson W. Pugh 1996 Building IBM: Shaping an Industry Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Robert Heller 1994 The Fate of IBM Little Brown
Paul Carroll 1993 Big Blues: The Unmaking of IBM Crown Publishers
Roy A Bauer et al 1992 The Silverlake Project: Transformation at IBM (AS/400) Oxford University Press
Thomas J Watson Jr. 1990 Father, Son & Co: My Life at IBM and Beyond Bantam
Robert Sobel 1988 IBM vs. Japan: The Struggle for the Future
David Mercer 1987 IBM: How the World's Most Successful Corporation is Managed [1] Kogan Page
Richard Thomas DeLamarter 1986 Big Blue: IBM's Use and Abuse of Power Macmillan
Buck Rodgers 1986 The IBM Way Harper & Row
Robert Sobel 1981 IBM: Colossus in Transition ISBN 0-8129-1000-1
Samme Chittum 2004 In an I.B.M. Village, Pollution Fears Taint Relations With Neighbors New York Times
Robert Sobel 1981 Thomas Watson, Sr.: IBM and the Computer Revolution (biography of Thomas J. Watson) ISBN 1-893122-82-4

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