IBM 100th Anniversary: IBM is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding Thursday. Led by American capitalist icons Thomas J. Watson, Sr. and Thomas J. Watson, Jr. until the 1970s, the company grew from a pre-World War I conglomeration of companies making tabulating machines and time-keeping devices into a globe-spanning technology behemoth that pioneered the development of electronic computers and dominated the mainframe era.
The company holds a mind-boggling array of patents and pioneered advances in a wide range of technologies including punched cards, processors, transistors, storage, word-processing, databases and OSes. As one of the emblematic 20th-century corporations, IBM also went through turbulent times.
The U.S. government brought several antitrust lawsuits against the company, and critics have attacked it for alleged cosiness with repressive regimes. After Tom Watson Jr. retired in the 1971, the company seemed to lose its way as mainframe computing began to face competition from smaller, more modular systems.
Increasing bureaucracy contributed to missteps during the PC revolution, and IBM suffered a series of annual losses in the early 1990s. Under the reins of then-CEO Lou Gerstner, starting in the mid-90s, the company bounced back to profit by focusing on software, system integration and other services, which remain key to the company's growth today.