From Tabulating Machines to Tech: 100 Years of IBM

IBM turns 100 years old on Thursday, and what a trip the company has made from its origins in punch cards and "calculating machines." Here, a brief history of innovation from the tech powerhouse.

IBM History Opener

From its origins in the "tabulating machine" business to its current role in data mining, IBM has remained a technology juggernaut, inventing countless technologies -- little things like the personal computer and LASIK eye surgery. 


IBM History 1911_CTR_formed

1911: CTR formed

IBM was formed as the Computing Tabulating and Recording Company or C-T-R, specializing in punch cards, commercial scales and clocks.

IBM Corp.

IBM History 1923_Census_Punch_Cards

1923: Census Punch Cards

IBM's punched card technology helped tackle large-scale projects like the U.S. Census.


IBM History 1924_Renamed_IBM

1924: Renamed IBM

With global ambitions, the company renamed itself International Business Machines -- today, IBM operates in 170 countries.


IBM History 1935_Systems_Service_Women

1935: Systems Service Women

IBM pioneered training courses for women so they could work in technical positions traditionally filled by men.


IBM History 1936_Social_Security

1936: Social Security

IBM worked with the U.S. government to start Social Security -- the largest accounting project of its time.


IBM History 1944_Auto_Sequence_Controlled_Calculator

1944: Auto Sequence Controlled Calculator

IBM's five-ton Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator was the first machine to handle long calculations automatically.


IBM History 1956_RAMAC

1956: RAMAC

RAMAC (Random Access Method of Accounting and Control), the first magnetic hard disk drive, created the data storage industry.


IBM History 1961_Selectric

1961: Selectric

The Selectric Typewriter was an instant design sensation, delighting typists for 25 years.


IBM History 1962_SABRE

1962: SABRE

IBM and American Airlines launched the world's first computer-driven airline reservation system, SABRE, which paved the way for online banking technology.


IBM History 1964_System360

1964: System360

The company made a big bet with the System/360 -- an early mainframe that helped usher in the era of computer compatibility.


IBM History 1969_Apollo

1969: Apollo

Along with dozens of companies, IBM technology helped guide the Apollo mission to the moon -- the company played a part in the U.S. space program since the 1950s.


IBM History 1969_Mag_strip

1969: Magnetic Strip

IBM labs developed the magnetic strips on credit cards -- still ubiquitous on ID cards, drivers' licenses and ATM bank cards.


IBM History 1971_floppy

1971: The Floppy Disk

IBM created the floppy disk, which made storage powerful and affordable -- and the PC revolution possible.


IBM History 1973_BarCode

1973: The Bar Code

Supermarkets started scanning UPC bar codes invented by IBM. Today they track everything from clothing to dairy cows.


IBM History 1980_LASIK

1980: LASIK

IBM was granted the first patent for LASIK surgery technology in 1980 -- and continues to hold more patents than any company.


IBM History 1981_IBM_PC

1981: IBM PC

The IBM Personal Computer launched the PC revolution, helping computers go mainstream beyond hobbyists and geeks.


IBM History 1984_words

1984: Words

By the mid-'80s, IBM computers understood 5,000 spoken words at 95 percent accuracy, the company claims; today, speech recognition is pervasive at home and on the road.


IBM History 1984 PCjr

1984: The PC Jr.

The IBM PC Jr., designed as a potential replacement for the still nascent personal computer market, was one of the company's most costly failures -- and is widely considered one of the biggest failures in computing history. 


IBM History 1986_Spelling_with_atoms

1986: Spelling with atoms

IBM scientists won the Nobel Prize for the scanning tunnel microscope -- which would eventually manipulate atoms to spell I-B-M.


IBM History 1987 OS2

1987: OS/2 Operating Systems

The OS/2 operating system, part of the company's "next-generation" PS/2 line of computers, as never as successful as Microsoft's Windows. Eventually, the company discontinued sales. 


IBM History 1997_DeepBlue

1997: DeepBlue

IBM's Deep Blue supercomputer defeated the best chess player in the world.


IBM History 2001_Linux

2001: Linux

IBM invested $1 billion in Linux, the open-source operating system that has largely supplanted the proprietary OSes that ran business machines for decades.

IBM History 2008_Smarter_Planet

2008: Smarter Planet

Smarter Planet launched to improve how the world works - now smart buoys in Ireland's Galway bay detect pollution, protect fish stock.


IBM History 2011_Watson

2011: Watson Supercomputer

Watson latest innovation: a supercomputer that can detect nuances in words, irony and riddles -- and inspire new realms of search queries and artificial intelligence.


From Tabulating Machines to Tech: 100 Years of IBM

IBM turns 100 years old on Thursday, and what a trip the company has made from its origins in punch cards and "calculating machines." Here, a brief history of innovation from the tech powerhouse.

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