Old man IBM celebrates 100th birthday

The creaking grandad of the computer world will be blowing out the candles today, with IBM celebrating its 100th birthday.

And while sexy new brands like Apple and Microsoft often draw more headlines these days, the computing veteran has managed to retain its place in the world.

The firm began way back in the midst of time when three firms specialising in scales and punch clocks merged to form the Computing Tabulating Recording Co, before the arrival of Thomas J. Watson and a change to the more familiar name of International Business Machines.

Watson, who was later granted the honour of being resurrected in supercomputer form to spend his days appearing on US daytime telly, then led the firm to prominence before his death in 1952.

Aside from the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, a 50 foot wide behemoth, the first notable computing machine created by IBM was presided over by Watson’s son, unveiling the IBM 701.

Following this the firm went on to achieve many notable landmarks in computing history, before young whippersnappers such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs came along to steal all the glory.

The firm was the first to create a magnetic hard disk for data storage, called the Random Access Method of Accounting and Control or RAMAC, and also created the first computer language FORTRAN.

Back in the seventies innovator IBM was also responsible for the creation of the floppy disk, and even has the claim to fame of dreaming up the UPC bar codes used on all types of products.

IBM then made waves with its personal computer, giving a young buck software firm Microsoft a rather convenient leg up to world domination.

While IBM saw some bad times in the nineties, nearing the brink of collapse, the firm managed to modernise late in its life with a move into the lucrative if less headline-grabbing life in software and services.

In fact since the late nineties the firm has been getting in the news for more obscure reasons.

This has largely involved challenging lesser mortals such as Garry Kasparov and a variety of Jeopardy contestants to fights like pub drunk trying to relive his past glories by shouting about how hard he is.

Of course the firm is still going strong, and is still one of the most profitable firms around.

So now with a battle on to see who will take the firm once it’s current CEO steps down, Computing Tabulating Recording Co will not be put out to pasture anytime soon it seems.