IBM explained

Company Name:International Business Machines Corporation
Company Type:Public
Foundation:Endicott, New York, U.S. (1889, incorporated 1911)
Location City: Armonk, New York
Location Country:USA
Slogan:On Demand Business, in demand people
Key People:Samuel J. Palmisano (Chairman, President and CEO)
Mark Loughridge (SVP and CFO)
Dan Fortin (President - Canada)
Jason Oppenheim (President - Asia Pacific)
Nick Donofrio (Executive Vice President - Innovation & Technology)
Mike Rhodin (President IOT Northeast Europe)
Dominique Cerutti (President IOT Southwest Europe)
Oytun Cleus(President IOT Middle East)[1]
Industry:Computer hardware
Computer software
IT Services
Products:See products listing
Revenue: US$ 98.8 billion (2007)
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Net Income: US$ 10.4 billion (2007)[2]
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(9.3% profit margin[3])
Num Employees:398,445 (2008)[4]
Iris Associates
Lotus Software
Rational Software
Sequent Computer Systems
Tivoli Systems, Inc.

International Business Machines Corporation, abbreviated IBM and nicknamed "Big Blue" (for its official corporate color), is a multinational computer technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. The company is one of the few information technology companies with a continuous history dating back to the 19th century. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and offers infrastructure services, hosting services, and consulting services in areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology.[5]

IBM has been known through most of its recent history as the world's largest computer company. With over 388,000 employees worldwide, IBM is the largest and most profitable information technology employer in the world. It is still selling computers today, and is still one of the biggest computer companies in the world, and it has also been known to produce very efficient computers as well, such as an IBM think centre.IBM holds more patents than any other U.S. based technology company and has eight research laboratories worldwide.[6] Known for its highly talented workforce, the company has scientists, engineers, consultants, and sales professionals in over 170 countries.[7] IBM employees have earned three Nobel Prizes, four Turing Awards, five National Medals of Technology, and five National Medals of Science.[8] As a chip maker, IBM has been among the Worldwide Top 20 Semiconductor Sales Leaders in past years, and in 2007 IBM ranked second in the list of largest software companies in the world.[9]


See main article: History of IBM.

See also: Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation (CTR) and Herman Hollerith.

See also: List of IBM products. The company which became IBM was founded in 1896 as the Tabulating Machine Company[10] by Herman Hollerith, in Broome County, New York (Endicott, New York, where it still maintains very limited operations). It was incorporated as Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation (CTR) on June 16, 1911, and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1916.

Selected current projects


See main article: developerWorks. developerWorks is a website run by IBM for software developers and IT professionals. It contains a large number of how-to articles and tutorials, as well as software downloads and code samples, discussion forums, podcasts, blogs, wikis, and other resources for developers and technical professionals. Subjects range from open, industry-standard technologies like Java, Linux, SOA and web services, web development, Ajax, PHP, and XML to IBM's products (WebSphere, Rational, Lotus, Tivoli and DB2). In 2007 developerWorks was inducted into the Jolt Hall of Fame.[11]


See main article: alphaWorks. alphaWorks is IBM's source for emerging software technologies. These technologies include:

Semiconductor design and manufacturing

Virtually all modern console gaming systems use microprocessors developed by IBM. The Xbox 360 contains the Xenon tri-core processor, which was designed and produced by IBM in less than 24 months.[12] Sony's PlayStation 3 features the Cell BE microprocessor designed jointly by IBM, Toshiba, and Sony. Nintendo's seventh-generation console, Wii, features an IBM chip codenamed Broadway. The older Nintendo GameCube utilizes the Gekko processor, also designed by IBM.

In May 2002, IBM and, Inc. announced the Butterfly Grid, a commercial grid for the online video gaming market.[13] In March 2006, IBM announced separate agreements with Hoplon Infotainment, Online Game Services Incorporated (OGSI), and RenderRocket to provide on-demand content management and blade server computing resources.[14]

Open Client Offering

IBM announced it will launch its new software, called "Open Client Offering" which is to run on Linux, Microsoft's Windows, and Apple's Mac OS X. The company states that its new product allows businesses to offer employees a choice of using the same software on Windows and its alternatives. This means that "Open Client Offering" is to cut costs of managing whether Linux or Apple relative to Windows. There will be no necessity for companies to pay Microsoft for its licenses for operations since the operations will no longer rely on software which is Windows-based. One of Microsoft's office alternatives is the Open Document Format software, whose development IBM supports. It is going to be used for several tasks like: word processing, presentations, along with collaboration with Lotus Notes, instant messaging and blog tools as well as an Internet Explorer competitor – the Firefox web browser. IBM plans to install Open Client on 5% of its desktop PCs.

UC2: Unified Communications and Collaboration

UC2 (Unified Communications and Collaboration) is an IBM and Cisco joint project based on Eclipse and OSGi. It will offer the numerous Eclipse application developers a unified platform for an easier work environment.

The software based on UC2 platform will provide major enterprises with easy-to-use communication solutions, such as the Lotus based Sametime. In the future the Sametime users will benefit from such additional functions as click-to-call and voice mailing.[15]

Internal programs

Extreme Blue is a company initiative that uses experienced IBM engineers, talented interns, and business managers to develop high-value technology. The project is designed to analyze emerging business needs and the technologies that can solve them. These projects mostly involve rapid-prototyping of high-profile software and hardware projects.

In May 2007, IBM unveiled Project Big Green -- a re-direction of $1 billion per year across its businesses to increase energy efficiency.

Environmental record

IBM has a long history of dealing with its environmental problems. It established a corporate policy on environmental protection in the year 1971, with the support of a comprehensive global environmental management system. According to IBM’s stats, its total hazardous waste decreased by 44% over the past five years, and has decreased by 94.6% since 1987. IBM's total hazardous waste calculation consists of waste from both non-manufacturing and manufacturing operations. Waste from manufacturing operations includes waste recycled in closed-loop systems where process chemicals are recovered and for subsequent reuse, rather than just disposing and using new chemical materials. Over the years, IBM has redesigned processes to eliminate almost all closed loop recycling and now uses more environmental-friendly materials in their place.[16]

IBM was recognized as one of the "Top 20 Best Workplaces for Commuters" by the United States Environmental Protection Agency‎ (EPA) in 2005. This was to recognize the Fortune 500 companies that provided their employees with excellent commuter benefits that helped reduce traffic and air pollution.[17]

However, the birthplace of IBM, Endicott, suffered IBM's pollution for decades. IBM used liquid cleaning agents in its circuit board assembly operation for more than two decades, and six spills and leaks incidents were recorded, including one 1979 leak of 4,100 gallons from an underground tank. These left behind volatile organic compounds in the town's soil and aquifer. Trace elements of volatile organic compounds have been identified in Endicott’s drinking water, but the levels are within regulatory limits. Also, from 1980, IBM has pumped out 78,000 gallons of chemicals, including trichloroethane, freon, benzene and perchloroethene to the air and allegedly caused several cancer cases among the villagers. IBM Endicott has been identified by the Department of Environmental Conservation as the major source of pollution, though traces of contaminants from a local dry cleaner and other polluters were also found. Despite the amount of pollutant, state health officials cannot say whether air or water pollution in Endicott has actually caused any health problems. Village officials say tests show that the water is safe to drink.[18]

Solar power

Tokyo Ohka Kogyo Co., Ltd. (TOK) and IBM are collaborating to establish new, low-cost methods for bringing the next generation of solar energy products, called CIGS (Copper-Indium-Gallium-Selenide) solar cell modules, to market. Use of thin film technology, such as CIGS, has great promise in reducing the overall cost of solar cells and further enabling their widespread adoption.[19] [20]

IBM is exploring four main areas of photovoltaic research: using current technologies to develop cheaper and more efficient silicon solar cells, developing new solution processed thin film photovoltaic devices, concentrator photovoltaics, and future generation photovoltaic architectures based upon nanostructures such as semiconductor quantum dots and nanowires.[21]

Dr. Supratik Guha is the leading scientist in IBM photovoltaic research.[21]

Corporate culture of IBM

Big Blue is a nickname for IBM; several theories exist regarding its origin. One theory, substantiated by people who worked for IBM at the time, is that IBM field reps coined the term in the 1960s, referring to the color of the mainframes IBM installed in the 1960s and early 1970s. "All blue" was a term used to describe a loyal IBM customer, and business writers later picked up the term.[22] [23] Another theory suggests that Big Blue simply refers to the Company's logo. A third theory suggests that Big Blue refers to a former company dress code that required many IBM employees to wear only white shirts and many wore blue suits.[22] [24] In any event, IBM keyboards, typewriters, and some other manufactured devices, have played on the "Big Blue" concept, using the color for enter keys and carriage returns.


IBM has often been described as having a sales-centric or a sales-oriented business culture. Traditionally, many IBM executives and general managers are chosen from the sales force. The current CEO, Sam Palmisano, for example, joined the company as a salesman and, unusual for CEOs of major corporations, has no MBA or postgraduate qualification. Middle and top management are often enlisted to give direct support to salesmen when pitching sales to important customers.

The uniform

A dark (or gray) suit, white shirt, and a "sincere" tie[25] was the public uniform for IBM employees for most of the 20th century. During IBM's management transformation in the 1990s, CEO Lou Gerstner relaxed these codes, normalizing the dress and behavior of IBM employees to resemble their counterparts in other large technology companies.

IBM company values and "Jamon"

In 2003, IBM embarked on an ambitious project to rewrite company values. Using its Jam technology, the company hosted Intranet-based online discussions on key business issues with 50,000 employees over 3 days. The discussions were analyzed by sophisticated text analysis software (eClassifier) to mine online comments for themes. As a result of the 2003 Jam, the company values were updated to reflect three modern business, marketplace and employee views: "Dedication to every client's success", "Innovation that matters - for our company and for the world", "Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships".[26]

In 2004, another Jam was conducted during which 52,000 employees exchanged best practices for 72 hours. They focused on finding actionable ideas to support implementation of the values previously identified. A new post-Jam Ratings event was developed to allow IBMers to select key ideas that support the values. The board of directors cited this Jam when awarding Palmisano a pay rise in the spring of 2005.[27]

IBM launched another jam session called InnovationJam 2008. This jam began on October 5 at 6:00 p.m. US EDT and continued for 72 hours through October 8. Unlike past jams, Innovation Jam 2008 involved wide participation from hundreds of IBM's clients, business partners and academics from around the world as well as thousands of IBM's own employees.

Open source

IBM has been a leading proponent of the Open Source Initiative, and began supporting Linux in 1998.[28] The company invests billions of dollars in services and software based on Linux through the IBM Linux Technology Center, which includes over 300 Linux kernel developers.[29] IBM has also released code under different open-source licenses, such as the platform-independent software framework Eclipse (worth approximately US$40 million at the time of the donation),[30] the three-sentence International Components for Unicode (ICU) license, and the Java-based relational database management system (RDBMS) Apache Derby. IBM's open source involvement has not been trouble-free, however (see SCO v. IBM).

Corporate affairs

Diversity and workforce issues

IBM's efforts to promote workforce diversity and equal opportunity date back at least to World War I, when the company hired disabled veterans. IBM was the only technology company ranked in Working Mother magazine's Top 10 for 2004, and one of two technology companies in 2005 (the other company being Hewlett-Packard).[31] [32]

On September 21, 1953, Thomas J. Watson, the CEO at the time, sent out a controversial letter to all IBM employees stating that IBM needed to hire the best people, regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or gender. In 1984, IBM added sexual preference. He stated that this would give IBM a competitive advantage because IBM would then be able to hire talented people its competitors would turn down.[33]

The company has traditionally resisted labor union organizing, although unions represent some IBM workers outside the United States.

In the 1990s, two major pension program changes, including a conversion to a cash balance plan, resulted in an employee class action lawsuit alleging age discrimination. IBM employees won the lawsuit and arrived at a partial settlement, although appeals are still underway. IBM also settled a major overtime class-action lawsuit in 2006.[34]

Historically IBM has had a good reputation of long-term staff retention with few large scale layoffs. In more recent years there have been a number of broad sweeping cuts to the workforce as IBM attempts to adapt to changing market conditions and a declining profit base. After posting weaker than expected revenues in the first quarter of 2005, IBM eliminated 14,500 positions from its workforce, predominantly in Europe. In May 2005, IBM Ireland said to staff that the MD(Micro-electronics Division) facility was closing down by the end of 2005 and offered a settlement to staff. However, all staff that wished to stay with the Company were redeployed within IBM Ireland. The production moved to a company called Amkor in Singapore who purchased IBM's Microelectronics business in Singapore and is widely agreed that IBM promised this Company a full load capacity in return for the purchase of the facility. On June 8 2005, IBM Canada Ltd. eliminated approximately 700 positions. IBM projects these as part of a strategy to "rebalance" its portfolio of professional skills & businesses. IBM India and other IBM offices in China, the Philippines and Costa Rica have been witnessing a recruitment boom and steady growth in number of employees due to lower wages.

On October 10 2005, IBM became the first major company in the world to formally commit to not using genetic information in its employment decisions. This came just a few months after IBM announced its support of the National Geographic Society's Genographic Project.

Gay rights

IBM provides same-sex partners of its employees with health benefits and provides an anti-discrimination clause. The Human Rights Campaign has consistently rated IBM 100% on its index of gay-friendliness since 2003 (in 2002, the year it began compiling its report on major companies, IBM scored 86%).[35]

In 2007, IBM UK was ranked #1 in the Stonewall UK annual workplace equality index.[36]

IBM has won over forty gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender awards globally.[37]

As part of IBM's diversity program, there is a GLBT Diversity Network Group, as well as a GLBT employee group (called EAGLE - Employee Alliance for Gay and Lesbian Empowerment) with over 1000 registered members worldwide


Logos designed in the 1970s tended to be sensitive to the technical limitations of photocopiers, which were then being widely deployed. A logo with large solid areas tended to be poorly copied by copiers in the 1970s, so companies preferred logos that avoided large solid areas. The 1972 IBM logos are an example of this tendency. With the advent of digital copiers in the mid-1980s this technical restriction had largely disappeared; at roughly the same time, the 13-bar logo was abandoned for almost the opposite reason it was difficult to render accurately on the low-resolution digital printers (240 dots per inch) of the time.IBM's logo is rated at #15 on[38]

Board of directors

Current members of the board of directors of IBM are:

See also

Further reading

width=10px rowspan=14width=10px rowspan=14width=10px rowspan=14
Ulrich Steinhilper2006Don't Talk - Do It!From Flying To Word ProcessingISBN 1-872386-75-5
Samme Chittum2004In an I.B.M. Village, Pollution Fears Taint Relations With NeighborsNew York Times
Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.2002Who Says Elephants can't Dance? HarperCollins.ISBN 0-00-715448-8
Robert Slater1999Saving Big Blue: IBM's Lou GerstnerMcGraw Hill
Emerson W. Pugh1996Building IBM: Shaping an IndustryMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Robert Heller1994The Fate of IBMLittle Brown
Paul Carroll1993Big Blues: The Unmaking of IBMCrown Publishers
Roy A Bauer et al.1992The Silverlake Project: Transformation at IBM (AS/400)Oxford University Press
Thomas J Watson Jr.1990Father, Son & Co: My Life at IBM and BeyondISBN 0-553-29023-1
Robert Sobel1988IBM vs. Japan: The Struggle for the Future
David Mercer1987IBM: How the World's Most Successful Corporation is Managed[39] Kogan Page
Richard Thomas DeLamarter1986Big Blue: IBM's Use and Abuse of PowerMacmillan
Buck Rodgers1986The IBM WayHarper & Row
Robert Sobel1981IBM: Colossus in TransitionISBN 0-8129-1000-1
Robert Sobel1981Thomas Watson, Sr.: IBM and the Computer Revolution (biography of Thomas J. Watson)ISBN 1-893122-82-4
William Rodgers1969Think: A Biography of the Watsons and IBMISBN 0812812263

External links

Notes and References

  1. Executive compensation at IBM
  2. Web site: Company Profile for International Business Machines Corp (IBM). 2008-10-03.
  3. Web site: IBM: Company Overview. 2006-06-27. Reuters.
  4. Web site: Unannounced Layoffs Hit Workers by the Thousands. 2009-03-06.
  5. Web site: Nanotechnology & Nanoscience.
  6. Web site: IBM maintains patent lead, moves to increase patent quality. 2006-01-10.
  7. Web site: Worldwide IBM Research Locations. IBM. 2006-06-21.
  8. Web site: Awards & Achievements. 2006-07-01. IBM.
  9. Web site: Software Top 100: the world's largest software companies. 2008-04-28.
  10. Martin Campbell-Kelly and William Aspray, "Computer a History of the Information Machine - Second Edition", Westview Press, page 37 2004
  11. Web site: developerWorks blogs : Michael O'Connell : dW wins Jolt Hall of Fame award; Booch, Ambler, dW authors also honored. IBM. 2007-03-27. 2007-04-23.
  12. Web site: IBM delivers Power-based chip for Microsoft Xbox 360 worldwide launch. IBM. 2005-10-25.
  13. Web site: Butterfly and IBM introduce first video game industry computing grid. 2002-05-09. IBM.
  14. Web site: IBM joins forces with game companies around the world to accelerate innovation. 2006-03-21. IBM.
  15. Web site: IBM and Cisco: Attempt to Unite the Communication Software Developers.
  16. "Environmental Protection" 3May 2008
  17. "Environmental Protection", 3May 2008
  18. "In an I.B.M. Village, Pollution Fears Taint Relations With Neighbors." 15 March 2004. New York Times Online. 1 May, 2008
  20. IBM - Energy, the environment and IBM
  21. IBM Press room - 2008-05-15 IBM Research Unveils Breakthrough In Solar Farm Technology - United States
  22. Book: Postphenomenology: A Critical Companion to Ihde. 228. ISBN 0-7914-6787-2. 2006. State University of New York Press.
  23. Book: Logos, Letterheads & Business Cards: Design for Profit. 15. ISBN 2-88046-750-0. 2004. Rotovision.
  24. Book: 55. The Essential Guide to Computing: The Story of Information Technology. Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR. ISBN 0-13-019469-7.
  25. Book: Smith, Paul Russell. Strategic Marketing Communications: New Ways to Build and Integrate Communications. Kogan Page. 1999. 24. 0749429186.
  26. Web site: Speeches. Samuel J. Palmisano. IBM. 2004-04-27.
  27. Leading Change When Business Is Good: The HBR Interview--Samuel J. Palmisano. Harvard Business Review. Harvard University Press. December. 2004.
  28. Web site: IBM launches biggest Linux lineup ever. 1999-03-02. IBM. 1999-11-10.
  29. Web site: IBM invests in Brazil Linux Tech Center. 2006-05-24. Farrah Hamid.
  30. Web site: Interview: The Eclipse code donation. 2001-11-01. IBM.
  31. Web site: 100 best companies for working mothers 2004. Working Mother Media, Inc.. 2004-10-17.
  32. Web site: 100 best companies 2005. Working Mother Media, Inc..
  33. Web site: IBM's EO Policy letter is IBM's foundation for diversity. IBM.
  34. Web site: IBM settles overtime lawsuit for $65 million.
  35. HRC Corporate Equality Index Score
  39. Web site: IBM. 2008-09-22.