The rise, fall, and eventual resurrection of the International Business Machines (IBM) tells a powerful tale of one of the world’s oldest and most profitable technology businesses. As such, the Department of Science and Technology Information and Communications Technology (DOST-ICT) Office commemorates IBM on its 104th founding year!
Founded in 1911, IBM was originally the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR) or the byproduct of the merger of three small and geographically isolated companies– the Tabulating Machine Company, the International Time Recording Company, and the Computing Scale Company. CTR then had some 1300 employees scattered across New York, Ohio, Michigan, Washington D.C., and even in Toronto, Canada. It manufactured and sold machinery such as time recorders, meat and cheese slicers, tabulators and punched cards.
In 1924, CTR Chairman and CEO Thomas Watson Sr. renamed the company to International Business Machines Corporation. Fortune retells that the move was Watson’s way of driving IBM employees to sell their merchandise harder because they were all part of the company’s climb towards a greater future. He was right. Ten years into his chairmanship, Watson already posted $11 million in revenues (13 times its original sales) and employed thrice as many employees.
A decade later, IBM was to take on the “the largest bookkeeping operation in the history of the world” – the issuance of social security numbers to 26 million American workers in 1935. Over the years, IBM has manufactured and sold a long and varied list of products, from different kinds of punchers, tabulators, collators, to calculators, printers, microprocessors, and computers, among others.
Those Automated teller machines you run to? They were developed by IBM as well.
In 2012, IBM was the 2nd largest private employer in the United States (40,000 employees), 3rd most valuable tech company ($224.12 billion), and 5th most valuable brand ($ 49.8 billion), among other accolades.
Younger players like Apple and Microsoft have been making the business more challenging for IBM. At times like this, one is to go back to the IBM values that sustained it through the years:
- Respect for the individual
- The best customer service in the world
Throughout history, IBM has proven itself advanced in terms of non-discriminatory employment. In 1914, it hired a disabled employee, 76 years before the passage of the US Disabilities Act. In 1941, it hired a legally blind person and two years later, the company had its first female vice-president.
The DOST-ICT Office is one with IBM in its pursuit of providing equal opportunities to all would-be employees regardless of age, gender, race, or handicap. One of the Office’s projects is a series of events for this year’s ICT Month tagged as “Internet for All: No Juan Left Behind,” which includes the ICT 4 Biz Summit to be held on June 17, calls Filipino persons with disabilities (PWDs) who are digitally skilled to join and be connected to companies who are in need of their services in the fields of animation, gaming, programming, web design and web graphics.
On a larger scale, the Philippine government through the DOST-ICT Office is also currently rolling out the Free Wi-fi For All Project which aims to supply 256kbps of free internet to Class 3-6 municipalities from Luzon to Mindanao. The Free Wi-fi For All Project aims not only to increase the national broadband connectivity to boost the economy, but also to reduce the digital divide between those who are connected and those who are not.
In constantly chasing greater heights despite the challenges that abound, Thomas Watson Sr. words ring loud and true–
“ The greatest asset of a man, a business, or a nation is faith. The men who built this country and those who made it prosper during its darkest days were men whose faith in its future was unshakable. Men of courage, they dared to go forward despite all hazards; men of vision, they always looked forward, never backward.”