What Is IBM?


Quick Answer

IBM, short for International Business Machines, is an American computer manufacturer known for producing business and home computers. IBM designed and manufactured calculators in the 1930s using punch card technology processing equipment, and in 1944, financed the development of the first machine capable of long automatic calculations, the Mark 1 computer.

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IBM was founded by Thomas J. Watson in 1924, and was the result of a 1911 merger among three successful companies: The Tabulating Machine Company, the International Time Recording Company, and the Computing Scale Company of America. The resulting company was called the Computing Tabulating Recording Company. Watson joined as CEO in 1914, and renamed it to International Business Machines Corporation in 1924.

IBM sold commercial scales and punch card tabulators, and defined itself by its research and development process. After the U.S. Social Security Act was passed, IBM's punch card equipment was used by the U.S. government to maintain employment records for the 26 million Americans living in 1935. In July 1980, IBM partnered with Bill Gates, who agreed to create an operating system for IBM's new computer intended for use in the home. The first IBM PC, released in August 1981, ran on a 4.77 megahertz Intel 8088 microprocessor, and sparked the computer revolution.

As of 2014, IBM provides data and analytics, social business initiatives and mobile technology. The company emphasizes the importance of expanding return on investment, reach and opportunities through the cloud and social and mobile technology.

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