(6.3) What is IBM?

What is IBM?

IBM (International Business Machines Corp.) is the world's largest provider of computing solutions. The company's software operations make IBM the largest software company in the world, with approximately $12 billion in annual revenue. IBM Corp. provides direct employment to approximately 220,000 people worldwide. Its stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol: IBM), and it is one of the Dow Jones 30 Industrials.

IBM was founded in the early part of the 20th century when its business primarily consisted of the manufacture and sale of scales, tabulating machinery, and other instruments for government and industry. During World War II, IBM was invaluable to the war effort. Its scientists designed and built the first electronic computer (the Mark I). Beginning in the 1950s, IBM manufactured and sold computer systems to large numbers of other companies, revolutionizing the conduct of business worldwide. The company achieved dominance (and remains preeminent) in many areas in the computer and software industries. IBM is the world's largest holder of patents relating to computing (including software) technologies, for example. The company has engaged in basic research for decades, resulting in such products as the diskette drive. Its scientists have most recently pioneered such areas as superconductors, perpendicular recording techniques, and manipulation of individual atoms to record information.

Today IBM manufactures, markets, and services a wide range of computing products. Hardware products include the ES/9000 family of mainframe computers, AS/400 line of midrange computers, RS/6000 workstations, Thinkpad notebook computers, Aptiva home/small business PCs, and IBM brand PCs for government and business. Software products include operating systems (OS/2 Warp, MVS, VM, OS/400, AIX, PC-DOS, and many others), databases, communications, networking, multimedia, CAD/CAM, programming, and much more. IBM also competes in areas such as banking systems (automatic teller machines, check processing equipment, etc.), point-of-sale systems (cash registers, barcode scanners, etc.), factory floor systems (computer controlled production equipment, robotics, monitoring), and much more. IBM also produces computers and software designed so that persons with disabilities can enjoy life to the fullest. Products such as Screen Reader/2, Screen Magnifier/2, and many more are available through IBM's Special Needs Division.

Through its joint ventures, subsidiaries, and partnerships, IBM is engaged in a wide variety of other lines of business. For example, Sears and IBM are co-founders of Prodigy Services Company. Sears and IBM also jointly own Advantis (part of the IBM Global Network), a company providing network connections (including connections to the Internet) to individuals, companies, and institutions around the world. IBM, Apple, and Hewlett-Packard each hold stakes in Taligent, a software company producing object-oriented technologies for inclusion in several operating systems, including OS/2 Warp. Apple and IBM each own half of Kaleida, the company producing ScriptX, a standard architecture for producing multimedia presentations. IBM's EduQuest designs and markets PCs and software for K-12 education, including "Columbus" and "Illuminated Books and Manuscripts" (multimedia software titles for OS/2).

A complete history of IBM, as well as a full report on IBM's current and future endeavors, would occupy volumes. However, the few paragraphs included here should give you an idea of the scope of IBM's business activities.

Mr. Louis Gerstner is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of IBM Corp., headquartered in Armonk, New York, U.S.A. Mr. John Thompson is head of IBM Software, the worldwide organization responsible for developing and marketing all of IBM's software products. Mr. Leland ("Lee") Reiswig ("The Blue Ninja") is the President of the Personal Software Products Division at IBM, the division which develops OS/2 Warp and many of IBM's software products for PCs. The bulk of the Personal Software Products Division workforce is based in Boca Raton, Florida, and Austin, Texas.

Related information:

(1.1)  What is OS/2 Warp?
(4.12) IBM Telephone Directory

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