International Business Machines Corporation (NYSE: IBM) or IBM is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and it offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology. As of December 2011, IBM was the third-largest publicly traded technology company in the world by market capitalization.
The company was founded in 1911 as the Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation through a merger of three companies: the Tabulating Machine Company, the International Time Recording Company, and the Computing Scale Corporation. CTR adopted the name International Business Machines in 1924, using a name previously designated to CTR's subsidiary in Canada and later South America. Its distinctive culture and product branding has given it the nickname Big Blue.
In 2011, Fortune ranked IBM the 18th largest firm in the U.S., as well as the 7th most profitable. Globally, the company was ranked the 31st largest firm by Forbes for 2011. Other rankings for 2011 include #1 company for leaders (Fortune), #2 best global brand (Interbrand), #1 green company worldwide (Newsweek), #12 most admired company (Fortune), and #18 most innovative company (Fast Company). At December 31, 2010, IBM had over 426,751 employees serving clients in over 170 countries, with occupations including scientists, engineers, consultants, and sales professionals.
IBM holds more patents than any other U.S.-based technology company, and has nine research laboratories worldwide. Its employees have garnered five Nobel Prizes, four Turing Awards, nine National Medals of Technology, and five National Medals of Science. Famous inventions by IBM include the automated teller machine (ATM), the floppy disk, the hard disk drive, the magnetic stripe card, the relational database, the Universal Product Code (UPC), the financial swap, SABRE airline reservation system, DRAM, and Watson artificial intelligence.
The company has undergone several organizational changes since its inception, acquiring companies like SPSS (2009) and PwC consulting (2002), spinning off companies like Lexmark (1991), and selling off product lines like ThinkPad to Lenovo (2005).
Sam Palmisano stepped down as chief executive officer on January 1, 2012, but retained his position as chairman. He was replaced by veteran IBMer Ginni Rometty.
Starting in the 1880s, various technologies came into existence that would form part of IBM's predecessor company. Julius E. Pitrap patented the computing scale in 1885; Alexander Dey invented the dial recorder (1888); in 1889, Herman Hollerith patented the Electric Tabulating Machine and Willard Bundy invented a time clock to record a worker's arrival and departure time on a paper tape. On June 16, 1911, these technologies and their respective companies were merged by Charles Ranlett Flint to form the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (C-T-R). The New York City-based company had 1,300 employees and offices and plants in Endicott and Binghamton, New York; Dayton, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Washington, D.C.; and Toronto, Ontario. It manufactured and sold machinery ranging from commercial scales and industrial time recorders to meat and cheese slicers, along with tabulators and punched cards.
Flint recruited Thomas J. Watson, Sr., from the National Cash Register Company to help lead the company in 1914. Watson implemented "generous sales incentives, a focus on customer service, an insistence on well-groomed, dark-suited salesmen and an evangelical fervor for instilling company pride and loyalty in every worker". His favorite slogan, "THINK", became a mantra for C-T-R's employees, and within 11 months of joining C-T-R, Watson became its president. The company focused on providing large-scale, custom-built tabulating solutions for businesses, leaving the market for small office products to others. During Watson's first four years, revenues more than doubled to $9 million and the company's operations expanded to Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia. On February 14, 1924, C-T-R was renamed the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), citing the need to align its name with the "growth and extension of [its] activities"