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IBM turns 100, brags about bench pressing more than companies half its age

Brian Heater
06.16.11
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IBM is quite possibly the only tech company around that might have genuine difficulty whittling a list of its industry defining contributions down to a mere 100. And it's an impressively diverse collection at that, including the floppy disk, the social security system, the Apollo space missions, and the UPC barcode. All of this self-congratulation is not without cause, of course. IBM was born 100 years ago today in Endicott, New York, as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, a merger between three companies, all peddling different technologies. That diversity has helped define IBM from its inception, and has offered a sense of flexibility, making it possible to keep in step with technology's ever-quickening pace for a century.

In 1944, the company helped usher in modern computing with the room-sized Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, and 37 years later, it played an important role in defining the era of home computing with the much more manageable IBM Personal Computer. In 1997, IBM introduced a machine that beat the world's reigning chess champion, and earlier this year, it created one that trounced two of the greatest players in Jeopardy history. These days, when the company is not building machines dedicated to outsmarting mankind, it's looking to promote sustainable development through its Smarter Planet program. So, happy centennial, Big Blue, and here's to 100 more, assuming your super-smart machines don't enslave us all in the meantime.

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