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With its 316,000 employees worldwide and revenues of $80 Billion (figures from 2000), it is the largest and oldest Information Technology (IT) company in the world. It has world renowned research labs located in N.Y., Almaden, Zurich, Tokyo, Haifa, Beijing, Austin, Delhi. Because of its size and its blue logo, the company is informally referred to as Big Blue.
It has a major presence in virtually every segment of the hardware market, from mainframe computers (where it has market dominance) to notebooks. It also produces a wide range of base componentry, notably including hard disks used both in its own products and that of other computer makers. However, more and more of its revenue comes from consulting activities rather than simple manufacturing.
Whilst it did not invent the personal computer, architectures cloned from its original 1981 design (which relied on third-party componentry) became the industry standard and made Microsoft and Intel, largely monopoly suppliers of two of the key components of compatible systems, the behemoths they became.
The ready availability of cheap commodity PC clone hardware has greatly diminished the market for IBM's desktop computers. The firm still makes end user hardware, but focus has shifted more towards servers and IT consulting. IBM has launched a massive PR campaign to promote Linux based IT solutions, an effort to prevent Microsoft from encroaching further into the server operating system market.
In October of 2002, IBM purchased PricewaterhouseCoopers' IT consulting division for approximately $3.5 billion dollars in stock and cash, doubling the size of IBM's consulting arm to more than 60,000 employees.
Shortly thereafter, IBM announced the beginning of a $10 billion program to research and implement the infrastructure technology necessary to be able to provide supercomputer-level resources on demand to all businesses as a metered utility.
IBM's history dates back decades before the development of computers -- before that it developed punched card data processing equipment. It originated as the Computing Tabulating Recording (CTR) Corporation, which was incorporated on June 15, 1911 in Binghamton, New York. This company was a merger of the Tabulating Machine Corporation, the Computing Scale Corporation and the International Time Recording Company. The president of the Tabulating Machine Corporation at that time was Herman Hollerith. Thomas J. Watson Sr., the founder of IBM, became General Manager of CTR in 1914 and President in 1915. On February 14, 1924, CTR changed its name to International Business Machines Corporation.
The companies that merged to form CTR manufactured a wide range of products, including employee time keeping systems, weighing scales, automatic meat slicers, and most importantly for the development of the computer, punched card equipment. Over time CTR came to focus purely on the punched card business, and ceased its involvement in these other activities.
The IBM Logo was designed by Paul Rand.
IBM acquired Rational Software Corporation in 2002 for 2.1 billion dollars.
See Also: List of IBM products