Today known for its many significant contributions to the development of the Information age, IBM pre-dates much of the very technology that made it a household name by several years, with roots spanning more than 100 years.
Although the company was incorporated in 1911, its origins stretch as far back as the 1880s. What would later be known as IBM brought together elements of various predecessor businesses, including one created by Dr. Alexander Dey, inventor of the first dial recorder.
Even in its distant youth, the company had blazed new trails and pioneered ideas in both technology and the workplace long before they became standard. Shortly after incorporation in 1914, the nascent IBM hired its first employee with disabilities, a full 76 years before the enactment of the U.S. Disabilities Act. It would continue this tradition of providing opportunities (and optimizing their own products) for individuals with disabilities.
IBM had also been one of the many companies that pioneered workplace equality, having had a female vice president in 1943 and hiring its first African American sales representative a full 18 years ahead of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In addition to being responsible for huge strides in computer technology, IBM and its researchers have made significant contributions to mathematics and science. IBM scientist Benoit Mandelbrot, for instance, laid the foundation for modern fractal mathematics and even lent his name to a set of fractals. Today, the company continues to foster innovation through initiatives like the World Community Grid and the Smarter Planet and Smarter Cities programs.
Rene Bostic has been with IBM for several years and currently serves as the Vice President of Cloud Technical Sales for IBM North America. For more reads about IBM and information technology, visit this blog.