From ArticleWorld

At IBM, we strive to lead in the invention, development and manufacture of the industry,s most advanced information technologies, including computer systems, software, storage systems and microelectronics. We translate these advanced technologies into value for our customers through our professional solutions, services and consulting businesses wordwide.

The character of a company -- the stamp it puts on its products, services and the marketplace -- is shaped and defined over time. It evolves. It deepens. It is expressed in an ever-changing corporate culture, in transformational strategies, and in new and compelling offerings for customers. IBM's character has been formed over nearly 100 years of doing business in the field of information-handling. Nearly all of the company's products were designed and developed to record, process, communicate, store and retrieve information -- from its first scales, tabulators and clocks to today's powerful computers and vast global networks.

IBM helped pioneer information technology over the years, and it stands today at the forefront of a worldwide industry that is revolutionizing the way in which enterprises, organizations and people operate and thrive.

The pace of change in that industry, of course, is accelerating, and its scope and impact are widening. In these pages, you can trace that change from the earliest antecedents of IBM, to the most recent developments. You can scan the entire IBM continuum from the 19th century to the 21st or pinpoint -- year-by year or decade-by-decade -- the key events that have led to the IBM of today. We hope that you enjoy this unique look back at the highly textured history of the International Business Machines Corporation.

Our history is multi-faceted: the institutional growth of a small lab started on the campus of a major university to the largest industrial research organization in the world. The progressive opening of labs around the world to form a truly global body of researchers. The design and construction of the landmark buildings that house them. The people that have led the labs and those that made outstanding contributions to the field of information technology. Most importantly, the major inventions and discoveries along the way.

Autonomic computing:

IBM Research continues to develop autonomic computing technologies - where interacting sets of computing elements regulate and adapt behavior to respond to changing conditions with only high-level direction from people.

The Unity project explores how a component (such as a database, storage system or server) can be made to be responsible for its own internal autonomic behavior, including managing the resources that it controls, and managing its own internal operations. Researchers have created a working prototype of an autonomic data center that configures, optimizes and heals itself.

The Change Management with Planning and Scheduling (CHAMPS) system, a prototype under development, is able to figure out what configuration changes (such as software fixes, hardware upgrades and performance enhancements) need to be done, plan how these changes should be rolled out, and make them happen.

The Elixor project aims to build a policy-enabled system for effecting security incident response-and-recovery procedures to reinstate services halted by issues, including non-compliance with a security policy, and vulnerability to and infection by worms and viruses, among others.

The Event Mining (EM) project mines historical data to construct problem signatures, which indicate the underlying cause of a malfunction or slow-down. The EM system will improve the quality and speed of signature construction by mining current data sets, the historical data generated by a distributed computer system (log files and event logs, for example), and finding correlations between events and run-time behavior. Ultimately, by finding these patterns will greatly reduce the cost of determining and resolving problems.


The Collaborative User Experience (CUE) Research group conducts computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) research with an emphasis on the interaction between people and computer systems in support of collaboration. The team has focused on several projects in 2004. The Unified Activity Management project explores new tools to support business activities, including both formal elements such as workflows and structured documents, as well as informal collaboration such as chats and e-mails.

The Activity Explorer project explores a hybrid application that supports ad-hoc collaborations that fall between the informality of e-mail and the structure of a more formal collaborative environment. The Kontiki project examines a tool to support co-construction of informal workflows based on a wiki-like authoring environment. Social Network Analysis discovers the hidden connections that are important for sharing information, decision-making and innovation within organizations. History Flow analyzes changes to documents. ForumReader browses large discussions, and applications of scale-space theory to perceptual organization. The Jazz project integrates lightweight tools, such as chat and screen sharing, directly into the Eclipse development environment.


IBM is one of the true pioneers in nanotechnology, an emerging set of tools, techniques and unique applications that involve the structure and composition of materials on a nanoscale. IBM's innovative breakthroughs have the potential to enable important advances in industries as diverse as microelectronics and healthcare.

Material self assembly provides an alternative to photolithography, the current method of choice for patterning integrated circuit elements that is approaching fundamental physical limitations. Self assembly is pattern formation at the nanometer-scale with feature sizes defined by fundamental molecular properties, which means that it can access dimensions and densities beyond the capabilities of conventional patterning techniques.

IBM researchers achieved the highest transconductance (measure of the current carrying capability) of any carbon nanotube to date, which implies that transistors can run faster, ultimately leading to more powerful integrated circuits. Furthermore, these nanotube transistors use the same structural design that manufacturers currently use to build silicon-based transistors, indicating that a costly retooling of fabrication plants may not be necessary if carbon nanotubes become a viable replacement for silicon in future computer chips.

IBM and Stanford University have formed the IBM-Stanford Spintronic Science and Applications Center (SpinAps) to collaborate in researching and creating new high-performance, low-power electronics in the emerging field of nanotechnology called spintronics. This new area aims to produce such advantageous circuit properties as low-power switching and nonvolatile information storage by controlling the spin of electrons within tiny structures made of ultra-thin layers.

For more than a decade, IBM Research has made pioneering advancements in the nanoscale detection method called magnetic resonance force microscopy (MRFM). The research team has improved MRI sensitivity to detect the spin of a single electron -- some 10 million times more sensitive than medical MRI devices used to visualize organs in the human body. This achievement was hailed as the top physics news story for 2004 by the American Institute of Physics and was named as one of the year's most important science achievements by a half-dozen science and technology magazines.

IBM scientists measured a fundamental magnetic property of a single atom -- the energy required to flip its magnetic orientation. This is the first result of spin-flip spectroscopy, a promising new technique developed to study the properties of nanometer-scale magnetic structures aimed at revolutionizing future information technologies.


Semiconductors are used in a wide array of applications, but the industry has reached a point in its development where it can no longer continue to improve performance in the same way it has been over the past few decades. IBM's advances in basic materials and manufacturing techniques have the potential to lower costs and broaden availability in products that touch people's lives every day.

For many years, Static Random Access Memory (SRAM) has been the on-chip memory used in virtually every type of microchip, but it consumes an increasingly large area of the chip. IBM used nanotech approaches to design an SRAM cell that is about 10 times smaller than current cells, making it the world's smallest. In fact, the materials and techniques used have been proven to scale to even smaller dimensions -- beyond the 32 nanometer node -- a level of miniaturization not expected to be reached by the industry for another eight or nine years.

IBM has developed spin on semiconductors, a simple, low-cost process for making extraordinarily thin films of semiconducting materials that allow electrical charges to move through them about 10 times more easily than had been reported for all other similar approaches. This is a significant step toward creating very low-cost electronic circuits with record high performance. This technique could significantly accelerate progress toward widespread use of thin-film electronics in such applications as: advanced displays, flexible devices, high-function smart cards and RFID tags, photovoltaic solar cells and phase-change solid-state memories.

IBM researchers demonstrated how to use strained germanium gate transistors in semiconductors to triple the performance of a standard transistor. Scientists created a layer of the element germanium (Ge) in the channel, a critical portion of the transistor through which electrical current flows. IBM's results are unique because the strained germanium is introduced selectively - only in the critical areas of the integrated circuit - so it does not affect other devices or circuits on the same chip. This helps to make the process compatible with conventional CMOS technology, which makes it a major step toward achieving continued chip performance enhancement for electronic systems.


Despite the economic focus on services, there is a shortage of individuals with comprehensive knowledge of business, people and information technology - the combination most needed to provide effective innovation in services. Moreover, there are few focused efforts aimed at preparing people for this new environment. To begin to rectify this shortcoming, faculty from prestigious universities joined IBM's researchers and consultants to discuss a bold undertaking: develop and introduce a new academic discipline -- Services Science, Management and Engineering (SSME). This new field will bring together ongoing work in computer science, operations research, industrial engineering, business strategy, management sciences, social and cognitive sciences, and legal sciences to develop the skills required in a services-led economy.

While only in its second year, On Demand Innovation Services (ODIS) proved to be a major differentiator for IBM. ODIS directly involves researchers in clients' projects through IBM Business Consulting Services, bringing a higher level of expertise and technology to work on their toughest problems. In return, researchers gained direct client insights that allowed them to refine their research work and, often, create reusable assets that could be applied in subsequent client engagements.