International Business Machines (IBM)

Photo By: (REUTERS/Nir Elias)

IBM is a US company focused on the area of ​​information technology.

The company is one of the few in the field of information technology (IT) with a continuous history dating back to the nineteenth century. IBM manufactures and sells hardware and software, provides infrastructure services, hosting services and consulting services in the areas ranging from large computers to nanotechnology. It was nicknamed “Big Blue” for adopting blue as its official corporate color, in Portuguese “Grande Azul”.

With more than 398,455 employees worldwide, IBM is the largest IT company in the world. IBM holds more patents than any other technology-based US company and has 15 research labs around the world. The company has scientists, engineers, consultants and sales professionals in more than 150 countries. IBM officials have already won five Nobel Prizes, four Turing Awards (known as the Nobel Prize in computing), among many other awards.


Herman Hollerith, an inventor of various electrical machines for summing and counting data that were represented in the form of perforated paper tapes. Through these perforations, the data they represented could be computed quickly and automatically through electrical circuits. With this process, the United States was able to closely monitor the growth of its population. The results of the 1890 census were provided three years later, saving several years of work.

In 1896, Hollerith created the Tabulating Machine Company and introduced innovations in its discovery: the paper tape was replaced by cards. These would become the basic element of IBM data-processing machines a few decades ago. As early as 1911, two other companies, the International Time Record Co. (of mechanical time recorders), and the Computing Cale Co. (of weight measuring instruments), were united to her, at the suggestion of the dealer and banker Charles R. Flint, forming the Computing Tabulating Recording Co – the CTR.

Three years later, in 1914, Thomas J. Watson (industrial leader who was one of the richest men of his time) assumed the chairmanship of the organization and established absolutely innovative work standards for the time. At that time, CTR had fewer than 1,400 employees and constant engineering research resulted in the creation and improvement of new accounting machines required by rapid industrial development. Before the year 1924, this small group of men had grown and diversified their experience. The products have gained higher quality, new machines have appeared and with them new sales offices and more vendors.

In February 1924 the CTR changed its name to INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES, now known worldwide by its acronym, IBM.

The IBM acronym has since become the formula for industry and commerce to continue to solve their development problems.

At the beginning of the 20th century, IBM was the only company in the world that had the technology of punch cards applied in almost all areas that used machines for registration, identification, filing and regulation of information. The equipment developed by IBM was also used for lesser purposes during the Second World War period, when the Third Reich entered into a partnership with the company to automate the system of identification, control and transfer of prisoners, according to journalist Edinho Black in his Book “Jazi Nexus”, 2009. The services provided by IBM to the German government yielded the equivalent of $ 200 million. The identification number tattooed on the Auschwitz concentration camp’s prisoners’ arm related to the perforated card number from IBM’s records.

As a consequence of the constant and rapid development, International Business Machines Corporation created in 1949 the IBM World Trade Corporation, a wholly independent subsidiary, whose objective was to increase sales, services and production outside the United States.

IBM’s factories and laboratories operate in 15 different countries. These factories are integrated with development laboratories in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, England, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Canada, Australia and Japan.

IBM is one of the leading research and development companies keeping its top ranking in patent publication for 16 consecutive years – IBM published 4,914 US patents in 2009, setting a record for “Big Blue” , Maintaining its leadership against competitors such as Samsung (3,611 patents) and Microsoft (2,906 patents).

In recent years, IBM has completely transformed its business model. The company divested itself of a number of activities that had already become commodities, such as the PC and printer segments, and expanded its service-delivery investments, which have a higher value added such as consulting, information on demand, and services. In 2005, its PC division was sold to the Chinese company Lenovo.

Products and services

IBM has a large and diverse portfolio of products and services. As of 2016, these offerings fall into the categories of cloud computing, cognitive computing, commerce, data and analytics, Internet of Things, IT infrastructure, mobile, and security.

IBM Cloud includes infrastructure as a service (IaaS), software as a service (SaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) offered through public, private and hybrid cloud delivery models. For instance, the IBM Bluemix PaaS enables developers to quickly create complex websites on a pay-as-you-go model. IBM SoftLayer is a dedicated server, managed hosting and cloud computing provider, which in 2011 reported hosting more than 81,000 servers for more than 26,000 customers. IBM also offers Cloud Data Encryption Services (ICDES), using cryptographic splitting to secure customer data.

IBM also hosts the industry-wide cloud computing and mobile technologies conference InterConnect each year.

Hardware designed by IBM for these categories include IBM’s POWER microprocessors, which are employed inside many console gaming systems, including Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo’s Wii U. IBM Secure Blue is encryption hardware that can be built into microprocessors, and in 2014, the company revealed it was investing $3 billion over the following five years to design a neural chip that mimics the human brain, with 10 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses, but that uses just 1 kilowatt of power. In 2016, the company launched all-flash arrays designed for small and midsized companies, which includes software for data compression, provisioning, and snapshots across various systems.

IT outsourcing also represents a major service offered by IBM, with more than 40 data centers worldwide. alphaWorks is IBM’s source for emerging software technologies, and SPSS is a software package used for statistical analysis. IBM’s Kenexa suite provides employment and retention solutions, and includes the BrassRing, an applicant tracking system used by thousands of companies for recruiting. IBM also owns The Weather Company, which provides weather forecasting and includes and Weather Underground.

Smarter Planet is an initiative that seeks to achieve economic growth, near-term efficiency, sustainable development, and societal progress, targeting opportunities such as smart grids, water management systems,solutions to traffic congestion, and greener buildings.

Services offerings include Redbooks, which are publicly available online books about best practices with IBM products, and developerWorks, a website for software developers and IT professionals with how-to articles and tutorials, as well as software downloads, code samples, discussion forums, podcasts, blogs, wikis, and other resources for developers and technical professionals.

IBM Watson is a technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data. Watson was debuted in 2011 on the American game-show Jeopardy!, where it competed against champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in a three-game tournament and won. Watson has since been applied to business, healthcare, developers, and universities. For example, IBM has partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to assist with considering treatment options for oncology patients and for doing melanoma screenings. Also, several companies have begun using Watson for call centers, either replacing or assisting customer service agents.

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