Happy 100th birthday IBM

A couple of months ago, I picked up a tweet on Twitter that said something along the lines of: “It’s interesting that all of the tech companies that have made a real difference are the ones that have emerged since the internet came along”

When I finished spewing coffee all over my monitor, I had a think about why my instincts were telling me this was a bit silly. I then went back to the person concerned and asked them to think about what would happen if some evil wizard came along and with a wave of his wand made everything enabled or delivered by one of the older companies disappear instantly.

The obvious example was IBM. Wave that wand in Big Blue’s direction and immediately our entire financial services infrastructure, telecom infrastructure and a lot of our utilities would collapse. Most large organisations and many public services would also be severely crippled.

Now try the same trick with FaceBook – yes people would miss it, but the world would go on, and some might even argue that it would be a better place. Same with Twitter and a lot of the other internet based companies. I have to admit that I hesitated over Google, but when it really gets down to it, while it would hurt to lose internet search, and the immediate access to the information it represents, I am not sure it would bring the planet crashing to a halt in the same way.

And anyway, when you consider that it was the R&D investment of entities like IBM over the previous decades that enabled a lot of what internet companies, and the rest of us for that matter, now take for granted, it puts things into perspective.

From early calculating machines, though DRAM, RISC processors, magnetic disk drives, the relational database, and the PC, right up to the Watson supercomputer that recently won America’s Jeopardy! game show against the best human contestants, IBM has consistently been, and continues to be, one of the most prolific sources of world-changing innovation on the planet.

So we at Freeform Dynamics would like to say happy birthday IBM, as it turns a century old today. Here’s to the next 100 years of innovation.


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