updated 10:40 am EDT, Thu June 16, 2011
Computer pioneer IBM turns 100 years old
International Business Machines, better known by its IBM acronym, has turned 100 years old on Thursday. Back on June 16, 1911, the company was called Computing Tabulating Recording Co. and was a result of the merger of three companies that built scales, punch clocks for work and other machines. The original Endicott, New York-based plant made cheese slicers and machines that read data stored on punch cards. The current name came to be in 1924.
To celebrate, the company is releasing a book titled Making the World Work Better: The Ideas That Shaped a Century and a Company, debuting a new film, Wild Ducks, and ringing the Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange. It has also launched a dedicated web page to its centennial.
The company's milestones include investing in a research lab during the Great Depression, developing the first magnetic hard disk drive in 1956 and thus creating the data storage industry and working with the US government on creating the Social Security System. It also invented the UPC code, or barcode found on many products in supermarkets and stores that are scanned at the cash register. The floppy disk for portable data storage came about form IBM's labs in 1971. IBM is also credited with the invention of the Personal Computer, or PC. Magnetic strips found on bank and credit cards and high-speed processing systems for ATMs are also IBM creations.
IBM introduced the personal computer in 1981 but didn't buy the rights to the software they ran on, which was Microsoft's MS-DOS. It also relied on Intel chips for processing power. Although it was famously the target of Apple's original Macintosh ad, IBM is widely credited with having kickstarted sales by making them 'acceptable' for businesses and others that distrusted PCs but valued the IBM name.
Today, IBM has exited the home PC business after selling off its lineup to Lenovo several years ago. As a server and services company, however, it now makes $100 billion in annual revenue and ranks 18th on the Fortune 500.