In its beginning, the company we know today as IBM was called the Computing Tabulating and Recording Company, which was formed in 1911. It wasn't until 1924 that its president, Thomas J. Watson, changed the name to International Business Machines.
In 1930, Watson got IBM's first patent for a traffic signal timing system. A few years later in 1934 the company introduced group life insurance (right in the middle of the Great Depression). Remember those Scantron forms you took exams with in school? In 1938 IBM made the first machine that scanned bubbles on forms called the 805 International Test Scoring Machine.
Well before BlackBerries and iPhones roamed the planet, IBM demonstrated an early form of email at the New York World's fair in 1939. Then, in 1951, the company officially moved into the electronics business with its first mass-produced computer: the IBM 701.
Sure, Google Translate's a popular tool today for quickly translating foreign languages, but way back in 1954 IBM had a computer that translated Russian into English.
While we take for granted sites like Expedia and Orbitz for booking flights at the last minute, making airline reservations at one time was a process that took hours... that is until 1962 when IBM's SABRE reservation system was put in place at American Airlines, letting reservations happen in real time. Four years later, Big Blue invented DRAM memory on a chip, an essential component of computers still today.
The brilliant British physicist Stephen Hawkings lost his ability to speak a long time ago, but with the help of a computer, he can share his ideas and theories with the world. We can thank IBM's research in 1971 for talking computers.
Many of us hate having to make a trip to the bank or wait on line for a teller. IBM changed that in 1972 with the first ATM machine.
Shopping and inventory tracking became much, much easier after 1973, when IBM introduced the UPC barcode.
In 1981, Big Blue introduced the world to the first personal computer. It sold two million in three years, blowing away expectations, and bringing computers to the mainstream. 11 years later, IBM put out its first ThinkPad laptop, a notebook line that continues today, albeit under the Lenovo brand.
In the 1990s, when many worried IBM wouldn't be able to keep innovating, Louis Gerstner arrived at the company, leading it in a completely new direction. IBM refocused itself on solutions, software, services, and eBusiness. It also happened to beat the world's chess champion with its Deep Blue supercomputer.
IBM's supercomputers continue to evolve today. Its "Watson" has enough artificial intelligence to detect irony and riddles, says IBM. It's also really good at Jeopardy.
From its early days of tabulating machines and typewriters to its modern marvels like the Watson supercomputer, here's a look at IBM's lengthy history of innovation.