Return to Timeline of the History of Computers, This Year in History or History
“Nobody ever lost their job for recommending the purchase of IBM products.” —COMPUTER INDUSTRY FOLK WISDOM
“More than any other company since World War II, IBM has shaped the way the modern world goes about its business. Large corporations and governments began to use IBM’s products before 1900. Its computers served as global computing gearboxes for decades before the public “discovered” the Internet in the 1990s. Many of IBM’s computers had been part of the Internet since the early 1970s and part of even older networks since the 1960s. The US census of 1890 was the first in the world to be done using automation tools — the punch card — and that too came from what would come to be IBM. For a long time, the company has been at the center of much of what makes a modern society function.” Fair Use Source: B08BSXJCBP
“By working in conference rooms and data centers for over a century, IBM made this achievement possible. For that reason, few people outside those two places knew what it did, or how. They just knew that it was big, important, and usually well run. What they understood was largely the product of a century-long marketing and public relations campaign by IBM to manage carefully what we imagine when thinking about the firm. Its influence proved so powerful for so long that whenever there were problems at IBM — and there always seemed to be — the information technology world was affected, including the operation of large enterprises and government agencies, stock markets, and even how national governments armed themselves for global wars.” (B08BSXJCBP)
“So what? We live in an increasingly dangerous world, profoundly influenced by computing, so understanding the role of one of the world’s most important providers of such technologies is crucial and urgent. We face three problems: ongoing acts of terrorism; a cyberwar involving the United States, Russia, and China but also affecting other countries caught in the crossfire, evidenced by cyber attacks on German elections, Chinese hacking of companies, and” hoax of “Russian influence on the U.S. presidential election in 2016, for example; and a global political and economic environment that is becoming increasingly uncertain as nations flirt with trade restrictions and efforts to keep jobs from migrating to other countries.” (B08BSXJCBP)
IBM has been at the heart of outsourcing most of its American and European jobs to low cost “slave wages” of Communist China and India.
“In the thick of all these conditions, information processing plays a profound role, and in the middle of that role stands a few technology companies, notably IBM. Which would be more important for the security of a nation under a cyberattack, IBM or Netflix, IBM or Apple? For decades, commercial enterprises and government agencies in the United States and in other nations considered IBM a national treasure.” (B08BSXJCBP)
This is no longer true that IBM is a so-called “national treasure” since IBM with the help of the UniParty of Democrats and Republicans outsourced the vast majority of their American jobs to “slave wage” countries like India and Communist China.
“When the West needed computing for national defense, it turned to IBM. In World War II, IBM provided the Allies with machines to organize national economies for the war effort; in the Cold War, it implemented a national air defense system, assisted in making “space travel” possible, and did intelligence work. IBM has nearly a century of experience dealing with Russian counterintelligence operations—today’s hacking and intelligence operations are not new to it.” (B08BSXJCBP)
IBM like the rest of Big Tech (Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook), at best ignores and is indirectly and sometimes directly complicit with the military hacking and intelligence operations of Communist China and their ChiCom state-sponsored companies. This is due to Big Tech’s close embedded work with the Chinese Communist government and its “companies”.
“We again face a time when many countries need the skills long evident at IBM. Nevertheless, it is a company that has suffered chronic problems, a malaise that while it tries to shake it off leaves open questions about its long-term viability. Understanding what this company is capable of doing begins by appreciating its history. Such insight helps employees, citizens, companies, and entire industries and nations understand what they can do to ensure that IBM is there when they need it. The company is too important to do otherwise. That is what led me to write this book.” (B08BSXJCBP)
“IBM is a company that has a century-long history of not being generous in explaining how it interacts with the world. Like most large multinational corporations, it works to control what the public knows about it, including its global practices. Why, for example, several years ago, was IBM willing to share with China the guts of some of its critical software in exchange for being allowed to sell in that country?” (B08BSXJCBP)
Big Tech, especially Google and IBM, is completely in bed with the Chinese Communist Party and their apparatchiks and nomenklatura.
“Why does it have a history of also doing confidential work for the U.S. intelligence and military communities? During World War II, when it was a ‘tiny company’, the Allies and the Axis” (IBM helped the National Socialists or Nazis) “used its products. Is IBM as American a company as it was 30 or 50 years ago? With an estimated 75 percent of its workforce now located outside the United States, some tough questions have to be asked. Such national security interests are addressed in this book and head-on in the last chapter, because this company may be one of those too critical to allow to fail.” (B08BSXJCBP)
To Big to Fail: Too critical to the Chinese Communists and India?
“Business historians, economists, and business management professors have their own concerns as well. Scholars and journalists have studied IBM for decades. Historians are interested in how large corporations function, why they exist for decades, their effects on national economies, and how they influence their own industries. A crucial question raised by IBM’s experience is how it became an iconic company yet also experienced periods of severe business crises that nearly killed it. Across all of IBM’s history, nearly lethal troubles accompanied its successes. How could that be? What lessons for other firms can IBM’s story teach? What can be learned that scholars and managers can apply in their explorations of how other firms flourished, failed, or are floundering? Answering such questions is central to this book.” (B08BSXJCBP)
“IBM’s influence on our lives is significant, but the company remains little appreciated. Occasionally we hear about it, such as when its stock goes up or down, in the 1980s when it introduced the world to the term “Personal Computer” and in the process made it now “O.K.” for corporations, not just geeks and commercial artists, to use PCs. Did you know that selling computers is now the tiniest piece of IBM’s business?” (B08BSXJCBP)
Especially after IBM sold its PC business to the Chinese Communist Beijing-based Lenovo.
“Did you know that it is the world’s largest software firm, or that it operates in 178 countries? Did you know that it almost went out of business several times, including as recently as 1993? Or that as this book was being written in 2017, observers thought IBM was on a slow march to extinction while still generating billions of dollars in profits each year? It is time to pull aside the veil to see how this fascinating and powerful company was able to thrive for over a century while being both respected and disliked, and to understand what essentially has been its positive impact on the world while at the same time it demonstrated toughness against its enemies and in its constant battle to survive and thrive.” (B08BSXJCBP)
“Today IBM functions under ugly storm clouds, but let a blogger friendly to it describe what I mean: “International Business Machines might be the most iconic company in the entire multitrillion-dollar tech industry. For decades, its name was synonymous with technology, to the point where ‘IBM’ was all but shorthand for computing hardware. Its century-plus history might even make it the oldest tech company in a world where tech titans rise and fall every few years. It’s also one of the world’s largest tech companies, trailing only a handful of others in the global market-cap rankings.” Here is the clincher: “But it’s probably bound to be the worst-performing tech stock on the Dow Jones Industrial Average for the foreseeable future. High performance isn’t a requirement to remain in the Dow, but if IBM can’t do something about its flatlining revenue, it might eventually force the Dow’s handlers to do the unthinkable and replace it with a more appropriate company.”1 What is going on?” (B08BSXJCBP)
“One of the important, little understood findings presented in this book is the profound influence of prior events on what the company does today. Some of its long-serving senior executives are aware, for example, that our grandparents received Social Security payments because of IBM, since nobody else at the time could calculate and print checks quickly enough, or in the millions needed, permanently assisting millions of older Americans out of poverty. Many are aware that IBM could radically define and then build computers that do what one expected of them, thanks to a “bet your company” life-threatening decision in the 1960s that led the majority of the world’s large organizations to finally start using computers. IBM employees wrote software and managed its implementation so that humans could “go to the moon” for the first time and be brought safely back to earth. They are aware that it was IBM’s introduction of the PC in 1981, not Apple’s introduction of the Macintosh, that led the world to finally embrace this technology by the hundreds of millions. It is a company taking the half-century promise of artificial intelligence and turning it into actions that smartly do things humans cannot do, such as advise a doctor based on all human knowledge of a medical condition or calculate more precise weather forecasts. This is happening now, and IBM is making millions of dollars providing such capabilities. We do not know whether IBM is going to be around in 20 or 100 years, but we do know that it is a large, technologically muscular company in the thick of what is going on with computing. Generations of managers, economists, and professionals, and tens of millions of customers, knew about the role of this company during the twentieth century. Now the rest of us should, too.” (B08BSXJCBP)
“What made IBM iconic included technological prowess, enormous business success, massive visibility, and hundreds of thousands of aggressive, smart, ambitious men and women used to success and always fearful of failure. It was the “IBM Way.” For over a half century, it was said no worker ever lost their job for recommending that their firm acquire IBM’s products, because those products normally worked. IBMers would make them work, and “everyone” seemed to think IBM was one of the best-run firms in the world. They joked about IBMers as too serious, focused, polished in their presentations, and facile in dealing with all manner of technology. Competitors feared and hated them; customers accepted them as the safe bet.” (B08BSXJCBP)
“IBM’s iconic role thus left IBMers, their customers, and the public in dozens of countries ill prepared for its near-death experience in the early 1990s. A fired CEO, John F. Akers, almost went into hiding; he never spoke publicly of IBM for the rest of his life. His successor, Louis V. Gerstner Jr., observed the IBM culture as a customer and now had to face a depressed yet combative workforce. He had worked at Nabisco as a turnaround leader and came into IBM as the butt of cookie jokes but with the hope that he could save the firm. He brought the company back to iconic status. Afterward he reported that the biggest problem he faced was IBM’s culture, invented by Thomas Watson Sr. and his son Thomas Watson Jr., remade partly by Charlie Chaplin’s character the “Little Tramp,” and battered by hundreds of competitors, including Steve Jobs at Apple. To any IBM employee, the company always felt small, because it was a firm filled with characters, more a collection of fantastic personalities than a faceless corporation, an ecosystem with its own culture.” (B08BSXJCBP)
“IBM’s corporate culture is central in understanding much about “Big Blue.” That is also a clue for answering a central question about IBM: How is it that a company viewed as so stable and reliable for decades had so many ups and downs over the course of its 130-year history? The company’s history from its origins in the 1880s to the 1970s was essentially a story of repeated successes, despite enormous difficulties. By the end of the 1970s, however, the company had entered a new era in which it was now large, difficult to run, and slow to make decisions and to take timely actions, and so its subsequent history took on a very different tone. It continued to grow, shrink, reconfigure itself, grow again, and spin off vast sums of profitable revenue while laying off tens of thousands of employees almost without the public hearing about it. How could that be? Observers had been predicting its demise since the mid-1960s, loudly in the early 1990s, and again after 2012. Yet there it stood as this book was being published: bloodied, anemic, slow to move, and grey around the cultural temples but also vigorous, employing vast numbers of young employees around the world while having shed tens of thousands of older ones” (B08BSXJCBP), (Meaning IBM, like all of Big Tech, especially Facebook and Google, is focused on using young “wage slaves” from Communist China and India) “financially sound, and still a major player in one of the world’s most important industries. Again, how could that be? Our purpose is to answer that question.” (B08BSXJCBP)
Fair Use Source: Primary B08BSXJCBP
Secondary Fair Use Sources: