The roots of the glorious company go back to 1896. A descendant of German immigrants, who was proud of his origin, decided to develop the calculating and analytical machines he had created.
The essence of the invention lay in the fact that an electrical switch was invented, which encoded any data using numbers. The 39-year-old inventor even got an order to supply his machines to the US Department of Statistics, specifically for the 1890 census.
The success of the calculating machine surpassed all expectations - in just a year all the data were processed, whereas during the last census it took 8 years. So in practice it was proved that computers can solve such problems much more efficiently than humans. The income received, as well as the established connections, helped Hollerith soon create his own company. Initially, the business was based on the production of commercial vehicles. However, in preparation for the 1900 census, the focus was again shifted to calculating machines. But after three years, cooperation with the state ended and Hollerith had to return to commercial development.
The company developed rapidly, but the health of its founder left much to be desired. In 1911, he accepted the offer of millionaire Charles Flint to sell his brainchild. Hollerith received $ 1.2 million for TMC, and it was not even so much about buying shares, but about merging with other similar companies - ITRC and CSC. As a result, the CTR (Computing Tabulating Recording) company was born, which became the progenitor of modern IBM. If Hollerith is called the grandfather of the "blue" company, then Charles Flint is her father.
The new owner of the company was a financial genius, he entered into many corporate alliances that outlived even himself. For this, Flint was even nicknamed "the father of trusts", but this role from the point of view of the impact is still not very clear. But the state appreciated the abilities of the millionaire, inviting him to places where the work of officials could not be successfully completed. It is believed that it was Flint who participated in a secret project to acquire ships around the world so that during the Spanish-American War of 1898 they appeared in the form of the military.
And the CTR corporation in 1911 produced a lot of universal equipment. These are time tracking systems, automatic meat cutters, weights and punched card equipment important for computers. In 1914, Thomas Watson became the general secretary of the company, and the following year he already headed the CTR, becoming its President. The next important milestone in the history of the company was its renaming into International Business Machines Co., Limited or simply IBM. At first, the concern came to Canada under this name, emphasizing its international status. And since 1924, the American unit began to be called so.
For the next quarter of a century, the company lived relatively calmly, even the Great Depression did not particularly affect IBM - employees were almost never laid off. But even during this period, several important events can be noted. So, in 1928, a new type of punch card with 80 columns appeared. It was called the IBM Card, and for the next several decades it was used in the company's calculating machines, and then in computers.
Another major development was a large government order to process data on 26 million jobs. Thanks to that work, the "Blue Giant" gained the favor of the authorities, as once its predecessor, TMC. At that time, IBM began to pay special attention to corporate culture, to conduct trainings. Employees began to be taught that the client is the main thing, that his requests should be followed. At the same time, the dress code of the company was formed. At IBM, everyone wore suits, there were simply no unshaven employees.
An ambiguous page in the company's history is its collaboration with the Nazis. IBM did sell equipment to the Third Reich, refusing to participate in its further use. In 1933, IBM even opened a plant in Germany. But after the war, the company's cars helped find many people. Many war and Holocaust victims demanded an apology from IBM, to which the company refused. As a result, the leadership disclaimed any responsibility for what happened in Germany during the Second World War. In addition, during this period, IBM worked much more closely with the US government and not only in the direct nature of its activities.
So, at the production facilities of the "computer" company, they produced rifles, sights, spare parts. The head of the company, Thomas Watson, set a nominal profit for these products of only 1%, sending it in the end anyway to a fund to help widows and orphans. The counting machines located in the United States did not stand idle. They considered military tasks - logistics, calculations, and also participated in the Manhattan project in the creation of nuclear weapons.
In 1943, the Mark I computer, which weighed as much as 4.5 tons, saw the light of day. That same year, Thomas Watson stated that it is unlikely that there will ever be more than five computers in the world. Nevertheless, it was in this direction that the head of the company saw the future of IBM. In 1948, the world saw a new machine - SSEC consisted of 21,400 relays and 12,500 vacuum tubes, it could perform several thousand operations per second. In the 1950s, the company received another large order from the government to develop computers for the SAGE system. It made it possible to track and intercept the bombers of the alleged enemy. The work was carried out in close collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which at the time was developing the prototype of the computer.
An important discovery for modern computer technology was the invention in 1956 of the RAMAC 305 device. It was the forerunner of the modern hard disk. Then he contained only 5 megabytes of information, and weighed 900 kilograms. The innovation consisted in the use of 50 aluminum circular and constantly rotating plates, the magnetized elements played the role of information carrier. So it became possible to provide random access to data, which significantly increased the processing speed. However, the pleasure was not cheap - the device then cost 50 thousand dollars. In 1959, computers on transistors appeared, which proved to be so reliable and fast that the US air defense was chosen to participate in the early warning system of air defense.
In 1964, the IBM System / 360 family appeared, the first general purpose computers. But the most important was in 1981, when the first personal computer appeared. It was powered by an Intel processor, Microsoft introduced the DOS operating system, and there were several applications. Interestingly, the importance of this project by IBM itself was underestimated. Contrary to the principles of intellectual property protection, the company did not patent either DOS or BIOS, and the architecture turned out to be open. As a result, many similar products appeared in the world. In 1986, IBM lost first place in the personal computer market, once created by itself.
In the 1990s, IBM increasingly switched to consulting, today this business accounts for more than half of the company's revenues. Other IBM core businesses are hardware manufacturing and software development. Today, the company has moved away from the production of personal PCs, retaining its leadership in creating servers and high-performance solutions, including supercomputers. IBM Corporation is represented in many countries around the world. In total, it has about 430 thousand employees. 19% of them work in India, and 27% in America itself. The blue giant's turnover is $ 106 billion and its net profit is about $ 16 billion.