Building IBM: Shaping an Industry and Its Technology

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MIT Press, 1995 - Computers - 405 pages
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No company of the twentieth century achieved greater success and engendered more admiration, respect, envy, fear, and hatred than IBM. Building IBM tells the story of that company—how it was formed, how it grew, and how it shaped and dominated the information processing industry. Emerson Pugh presents substantial new material about the company in the period before 1945 as well as a new interpretation of the postwar era.

Granted unrestricted access to IBM's archival records and with no constraints on the way he chose to treat the information they contained, Pugh dispels many widely held myths about IBM and its leaders and provides new insights on the origins and development of the computer industry.

Pugh begins the story with Herman Hollerith's invention of punched-card machines used for tabulating the U.S. Census of 1890, showing how Hollerith's inventions and the business he established provided the primary basis for IBM. He tells why Hollerith merged his company in 1911 with two other companies to create the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, which changed its name in 1924 to International Business Machines. Thomas J. Watson, who was hired in 1914 to manage the merged companies, exhibited remarkable technological insight and leadership—in addition to his widely heralded salesmanship—to build Hollerith's business into a virtual monopoly of the rapidly growing punched-card equipment business.

The fascinating inside story of the transfer of authority from the senior Watson to his older son, Thomas J. Watson Jr., and the company's rapid domination of the computer industry occupy the latter half of the book. In two final chapters, Pugh examines conditions and events of the 1970s and 1980s and identifies the underlying causes of the severe probems IBM experienced in the 1990s.
  

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Contents

Getting started Addressing the census problem The first practical
16
3
29
Competition emerges Hiring creative engineers Obtaining crucial pat
48
5
53
Support for Academic Research
67
A prodigious inventor Pioneering in electronics Building electronic
86
Organizing for war Mobile machine record units Teleprocessing with
106
GovernmentFunded Competition
131
Some early efforts Sharing information and programs Customer
196
The Whirlwind computer The new mission A better memory
217
17
243
Gambling on System360
263
19
279
Entering the components business Developing SLT Memory
296
21
317
Notes
331

12
145
Watson Jr Takes Charge
163
Programming Computers
183

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About the author (1995)

An internationally recognized leader in magnetics and computer memory technologies, Emerson W. Pugh is a member of the research staff at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights and author of the widely used text, "Principles of Electricity and Magnetism.

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