Nearly all the companies our grandparents admired have disappeared. Of the top 25 industrial corporations in the United States in 1900, only two remained on that list at the start of the 1960s. And of the top 25 companies on the Fortune 500 in 1961, only six remain there today. Some of the leaders of those companies that vanished were dealt a hand of bad luck. Others made poor choices. But the demise of most came about because they were unable simultaneously to manage their business of the day and to build their business of tomorrow.
IBM was founded in 1911 as the Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation through a merger of four companies: the Tabulating Machine Company, the International Time Recording Company, the Computing Scale Corporation, and the Bundy Manufacturing Company. CTR adopted the name International Business Machines in 1924. The distinctive culture and product branding has given IBM the nickname Big Blue.
As you read this, IBM begins its 101st year. As I look back at the last century, there is a path that led us to this remarkable anniversary which has been both rich and diverse. The innovations IBM has contributed includes products ranging from cheese slicers to calculators to punch cards – all the way up to game-changing systems like Watson.
But what stands out to me is what has remained unchanged. IBM has always been a company of brilliant problem-solvers. IBMers use technology to solve business problems. We invent it, we apply it to complex challenges, and we redefine industries along the way.
This has led to some truly game-changing innovation. Just look at industries like retail, air travel, and government. Where would we be without UPC codes, credit cards and ATM machines, SABRE, or Social Security? Visit the IBM Centennial site to see profiles on 100 years of innovation.
We haven’t always been right though … remember OS/2, the PCjr and Prodigy?
100 years later, we’re still tackling the world’s most pressing problems. It’s incredibly exciting to think about the ways we can apply today’s innovation – new information based systems leveraging analytics to create new solutions, like Watson – to fulfill the promise of a Smarter Planet through smarter traffic, water, energy, and healthcare. This promise of the future … is incredibly exciting and I look forward to helping IBM pave the way for continued innovation.
Watch the IBM Centennial film “Wild Ducks” or read the book. IBM officially released a book last week celebrating the Centennial, “Making the World Work Better: The Ideas that Shaped a Century and a Company”. The book consists of three original essays by leading journalists. They explore how IBM” has pioneered the science of information, helped reinvent the modern corporation and changed the way the world actually works.
As for me … I’ve been with IBM since the 2006 acquisition of FileNet and am proud to be associated with such an innovative and remarkable company.