June 16, 2011, has proved to be a memorable day for IBM. Celebration of the company’s 100th birthday today comes on the heels of an announcement that it has surpassed the $100 billion mark in annual sales-a reminder of the immeasurable influence the tech giant has had on its industry.
Founded on the same date in 1911, the original IBM consisted of three companies that made scales, punch-clocks for work and other machines, which merged to form the Computing Tabulating Recording Co. By the 1930s, IBM had advanced from business that included the development of cheese slicers to creating cards that kept track of the 26 million Americans covered under the new Social Security program. Under the guidance of Thomas J. Watson, Sr. and, later, his son, Thomas Watson Jr., these early machines-which had places for data storage, math processing areas and output-moved into the computer era. They have since been used to calculate banking transactions and, eventually, introduce the magnetic hard drive, floppy disk and bar code to the world.
In addition to its professional accomplishments, which consistently rank IBM as the only high tech company in Fortune 500’s top 10 by the late 1960s, its leadership is viewed as a cornerstone of employee appreciation. It was one of the first companies to offer paid holidays and life insurance to its workers. Today, IBM is ranked 18th in Fortune 500, a business three times the size of Google and almost twice as big as Apple. Hewlett-Packard Co.’s new CEO, Leo Apotheker, has said one of his primary goals is to strengthen his company’s software and services businesses to better compete with IBM. And having survived two recessions helping businesses cut technology costs, it is apparent this company is here to stay.
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