T Nation

IBM's Early Years?

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, 1943.

This is todays “Strong Words” - which makes me wonder what did IBM do in 1943 if it didn’t make computers?

Probably dumb question, but can anyone enlighten me?

They made early versions of what ended up being today’s PC. IBM Stands for International Business Machines. If you have ever been to DC and the Holocaust Museum, there is a display that shows an early IBM Machine they used to track the ‘genetic history’ of everyone in Germany during the Holocaust.

A little more interesting history from the museum; Bavarian Motor Works (BMW - as in the car) and Dahlmer Benz (As in Mercedes Benz now a division of Dahlmer Chrysler) both used concentration camp prisoners in their factories

They made typewriters

My Dad worked for IBM for about 30 years (mostly during the boom time for the company from the late 60’s to early 90’s), so the company’s history is a little familiar to me. So yes, they did typewriters, various sorts of machines to handle counting, tabulations, etc. in the time pre-computers (or at least what we think of as computers). Heck, they even made some wall clocks too.

There is a huge section on the company’s history over at their Web site:

It’s a pretty amazing company (and always a great blue chip stock pick).


Kuz - thanks