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International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) 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 second oldest (only NCR Corporation is older). It has development labs
located all over the world and research labs located in New York, San Jose,
Cambridge, MA, Bšblingen (Germany), Zurich, Tokyo, Haifa, Beijing, Austin,
Delhi and Winchester.
It has a major presence in virtually every segment of the hardware market,
from mainframe computers (where it has market dominance) to notebooks. It
also produces a wide range of base componentry. However, more and more of
its revenue comes from consulting activities rather than simple
Because of the company's centralised culture with strict behavioural and
dress codes, the company is informally referred to as Big Blue. For example,
a blue suit, white shirt and dark tie was the public uniform.
Current business activities
The ready availability of cheap commodity PC clone hardware has greatly
diminished the market for IBM's desktop computers. The firm still makes end
user hardware, but focus has shifted more towards servers and IT consulting.
IBM has launched a massive PR campaign to promote Linux based IT solutions,
an effort to prevent Microsoft from encroaching further into the server
operating system market.
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 licensing patents as a
lucrative source of revenue. Every year from 1993 until 2002, IBM has been
granted more U.S. patents than any other company. The ten-year period has
resulted in 22,358 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.
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.
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.
The IBM Logo was designed by Paul Rand.
Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. was the Chairman and CEO of IBM from April 1, 1993,
until January 29, 2002, when Samuel J. Palmisano was elected CEO after
having been instrumental in helping to grow IBM's Global Services unit into
a business with tens of billions of dollars in backlog.
Recent IBM acquisitions include the following:
* Lotus Development Corporation in 1995 for $3.5 billion.
* Tivoli Systems in 1995 for $750 million.
* Sequent Computer Systems in 1999 for $810 million.
* Informix Software (a purchase of assets rather than a true acquisition)
in 2001 for $1.0 billion.
* Rational Software Corporation in 2002 for $2.1 billion.
* PricewaterhouseCoopers' Consulting in 2002 for $3.5 billion
(recalculated by IBM in August 2003 as $3.9 billion).