Yep, the three-lettered computing corporation is celebrating its centennial anniversary this week. Big Blue officially hit the triple digits on Thursday; it was way back in June of 1911 that the company entered the world, bare-bottomed and red-faced (no wonder people paid attention).
IBM wasn’t technically IBM in the beginning, though. The company initially incorporated as C-T-R, short for Computing-Tabulating-Recording. According to IBM’s website, the original C-T-R had 1,300 employees and sold everything from “commercial scales and industrial time recorders to meat and cheese slicers.”
Oh yes — you read that correctly. Mock the odd combo if you must, but let me say this: If any modern tech company sold computers and cheese slicers in the same store, I’d be there every damn day saying “Swiss cheese and PCs, please.” And you know you would, too.
But enough dairy dreaming; we’re talking about IBM here. The IBM name actually came along in 1924, when the company decided it had grown and expanded too much (and probably sold far too many cheese slicers) to stick with the silly ol’ C-T-R moniker. No amount of CPR could save C-T-R; the overly dashed name was dead, and International Business Machines was born.
Not many tech companies can claim a hundred year history — heck, most other tech giants look like toddlers in comparison. Facebook is a mere 7 years old this year; Google is discovering the joys of manhood as it turns 13; and Apple and Microsoft are striding through their mid-30s. Converted into tech years, by my estimation, IBM is actually almost 4,976 years old.
But how old is 100 really? Well, consider these other noteworthy events that happened the same year IBM opened its baby blue eyes:
• Ronald Reagan was born.
• Lucille Ball was born.
• The Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre.
• The first Monte Carlo race took place in Europe.
• Brigette Horney was born. (Admission: I don’t really know who Brigette Horney is; I just figured this was a rare opportunity to write “Brigette Horney” in a tech news story.)
IBM, old pal, you’ve come a long way, and you’re certainly showing no signs of slowing down. We at PCWorld salute you for your hundred years of healthy innovation — and encourage you to bring back the cheese slicer ASAP, preferably packaged in with your next tech product.
JR Raphael is a PCWorld contributing editor and the co-founder of geek-humor site eSarcasm. You can find him on both Facebook, Twitter, or