In a world where IBM is best known for its hardware, its software has been essential to its success. IBM’s first major project in 1958 was to write FORTRAN (Formula Translation), which allowed programmers with a high-level language to program computers.
The story behind IBM’s success starts with Thomas J. Watson Sr., who founded the company in 1911 (that’s before most of us, if not all of us, were born) as a merger between three small technology companies based in New York City. These included Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, International Time Recording Company, and the Tabulating Machine Company.
Milestones at a Glance
Forget about the 1958 project; IBM began hitting milestones way long before that. In 1924, IBM started to use the famous logo we all know today. In 1934, the firm became one of four companies instrumental in developing standards for electric typewriters. Eventually, IBM would also create computer data storage systems, magnetic tapes, and disk drives.
These are just some examples of milestones IBM has reached as a company, but its history is also closely connected to the history of computers. In 1981, for instance, IBM introduced the IBM Personal Computer (PC), one of the first personal computers mass-produced by an already established manufacturer.
The IBM PC famously had its “IBM” name and logo written on the front of its case, something the company did not do with previous products.
In addition to IBM’s many successful software products like DBA and VSE, the firm also launched IBM PC DOS in 1981, which became a platform for others to write software that could run under DOS. Soon after, people started writing IBM software products for this PC operating system.
Today, IBM continues to create software products. It also makes software products that run on Windows or Linux operating systems, like the WebSphere Application Server.