Archive for the ‘IBM’ Category

On January 22, 1984, the famous “1984” television commercial introducing the Macintosh personal computer ran during the third quarter of the Super Bowl.  Many people think that this is the only time it ever ran.  But, it was also run by the Chiat/Day, the ad agency that created it, on December 31, 1983 right before the 12:00 midnight sign-off on KMVT in Twin Falls, Idaho, so that it could qualify for the 1983 advertising awards. The ad was so successful, that it never really needed to be run again as the media coverage it got generated a lot of free airtime.  And, people are still talking about it 30 years later.

The ad is based on the book, “1984” by George Orwell which introduced the concept of “Big Brother”.  The ad refers to IBM as “Big Brother” and the Apple Macintosh computer as the individual challenging a society of people who don’t behave as individuals.  Interestingly, the estate of George Orwell and the television rights holder to the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four considered the commercial to be a copyright infringement and sent a cease-and-desist letter to Apple and Chiat/Day after the ad ran which generated even more publicity.



Here’s Director Ridley Scott discussing the making of the famous 1984 Macintosh commercial.  [This is excerpted from an Apple promotional video.]



The “1984” ad was shown at the 20th anniversary celebration of the Macintosh in 2004  There was also an updated version of it created for the iPod launch.  Was it one of the best ads ever?  That’s up for debate.  But, as a marketer, I’d give it an award for one of the top 10 product launches ever.

— Carole Gunst


Read Full Post »

Have you ever owned a computer that made you want to pull your hair out? Wondering if your computer would be on the top 10 list of worst computers of all time? You might be in luck. Chassis Plans, a rugged computer manufacturer, has created this interesting infographic outlining some of the worst computers of all time. From the Commodore VIC 20 to the Netbook, this visual takes you through some of the most loathed computers and the features that drove their owners mad. Name a computer problem and one of these computers probably had it. From slow processor speeds to computers that would turn on in the middle of the night to computers that would melt discs, the problems go on and on. Surprisingly some of these computers, despite their problems set records like “the first commercial computer to be used in space” or “the first personal computer to sell more than one million units.”

The Worst Computers of All Time [Infographic]

Read Full Post »

IBM @100

Today in 1911, the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company was incorporated. It changed its name to IBM in 1924. Many commentators on IBM’s centenary attribute its longevity to the power of idea or ideas. (more…)

Read Full Post »

55 years ago today, Jay Forrester of MIT was awarded a patent for his magnetic core memory. It became the standard for computer memory until it was supplanted by solid state RAM in the mid-seventies. (It has continued to be used, however, in special environments, e.g., on the space shuttle, because its content was not lost when the power was shut off). Forrester’s was not the only patent granted to magnetic core memory inventions and the patent dispute continued until February 1964 when IBM (which has acquired the patent rights from other inventors, including An Wang) agreed to pay MIT $13 million—$4 more than had ever been paid to secure a patent—of which Forrester received $1.5 million. Forrester succinctly described the experience many years afterwards: “It took about seven years to convince people in the industry that magnetic core memory would work. And it took the next seven years to convince them that they had not all thought of it first.” [quoted in Memory and Storage, Time-Life Books, 1990]

Read Full Post »

This year, IBM is celebrating their 100th anniversary.  It’s pretty amazing to watch an information technology company with a history dating back to the 19th century continue to innovate and remain successful today.

IBM was actually founded in 1896 as the Tabulating Machine Company by Herman Hollerith. It was incorporated as Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation (CTR) on June 16, 1911 after a merger of  the Computer Scale Company of America and the International Time Recording Company with the Tabulating Machine Company. CTR became International Business Machines (IBM) in 1924 when Thomas J. Watson took control of it.

As you saw in the video, IBM was known for technology that used punch cards, typewriters, and other business machines.  Today, IBM is known for manufacturing and selling computer hardware, software and services for products ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology.  IBM has over 388,000 employees and is one of the largest and most profitable information technology employers in the world. They hold more patents than any other U.S. based technology company.  Over the last 100 years, IBM employees have earned five Nobel Prizes, four Turing Awards, five National Medals of Technology, and five National Medals of Science.  Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

Read Full Post »

With every industry, comes its trade publications.  And with the IBM personal computer industry came many publications like PC Magazine.  “PC” was originally published in January, 1982.   It was created by David Bunnell and financed by Tony Gold.

Originally, a monthly magazine, “PC Mag” moved to biweekly publication in 1983 when one monthly issue grew to over  800 pages! In January, 1986, the magazine had a major redesign and the word “magazine” was added to the logo.

Due to popularity, the magazine outgrew its financing and was sold to Ziff-Davis around 1982.  At this time, the staff left to form PC World magazine.  The online edition of the magazine started in 1994,  and as of 2009, it is only available online.  That decision was made due to declining print ad sales.

The magazine provides reviews and previews of the latest hardware and software.  Regular departments include:

  • First Looks (a collection of reviews of newly released products)
  • Pipeline (a collection of short articles and snippets on computer-industry developments)
  • Solutions (which includes various how-to articles)
  • User-to-User (a section in which the magazine’s experts answer user-submitted questions)
  • After Hours (a section about various computer entertainment products)

Read Full Post »

Halloween has us here at High Tech History reviewing a seasonal offering, if not a treat,  from Network World: the IT Industry Graveyard slideshow.

Geeks can indulge in ghoulish fascination over the demise of industry tradeshows, rebranding of HP’s IT services, Palm OS products, and the IBM – Sun buyout that didn’t happen.  Remember that?

We did read with interest, but a little sadness, about the demise of SiCortex, a supercomputer company based in Maynard, Mass. that was enjoying success and profitability of 100% in Q1 2009 until its venture capital was yanked.

Based in Clock Tower Place, the same building where Digital Equipment Corporation was established, it’s heartening to know the high-tech industry endures in the very place that it was established.  But the VC expectations are totally different.

But the winds won’t be howling through the abandoned offices in those brick buildings for too long.


Another Maynard-based computer company passed into history

— Leigh Montgomery

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »