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International Business Machines Corporation

legal form Corporation
ISIN US4592001014
founding June 16, 1911
Seat Armonk , New York , United States
United StatesUnited States 
management Arvind Krishna ( CEO )
Number of employees 352,600 (2019)
sales 77,150,000,000 USD (2019)
Branch Information technology , advice
As of February 25, 2020

The International Business Machines Corporation ( IBM ) is a publicly traded US-based IT - and consulting company based in Armonk in the state of New York . IBM is one of the world's leading companies, especially for industry-specific solutions and services in the IT sector, as well as software and hardware .

Artificial intelligence / business analytics, cloud computing, security, quantum computing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain technologies form the basis of the company for IBM today.

In 2019, IBM employed more than 300,000 people worldwide. According to estimates, the number of employees in Germany is 16,500 (as of 2015).


IBM goes back to the predecessor company Tabulating Machine Company founded by Herman Hollerith in December 1896 . At that time, this company manufactured the machines developed by Herman Hollerith for counting and recording data entered using punched cards . This also included machines for counting ballots in elections in the United States. However, IBM stopped producing such machines after the manufacturers were held liable for votes not counted by their machines.

In June 1911 , the companies “International Time Recording Company” and “Computing Scale Corporation” were merged with the “Tabulating Machine Company” under the name “ Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company ” (CTR) Incorporated in Endicott, NY, USA. The new company, which employed 1,300 people, specialized in punch cards, commercial scales and clocks.

IBM logos
IBM 1924 logo.svg 1924-1946
IBM Logo 1947 1956.svg 1947-1956
IBM Logo 1956 1972.svg 1956-1972
IBM logo.svg since 1972

Thomas J. Watson became head of the “Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company” in 1914 and headed IBM until 1955. He shaped a special corporate culture with a strong focus on sales. Great importance was attached to the absolute loyalty of the employees. In February 1924, the renaming of the company "International Business Machines Corporation," short IBM was made because a lot of the product range now consisted of machines for use in companies, such as punch , accountants, punch card sorters , mixers and various tabulating machines . As a rule, these were not sold, but rented out. IBM had a monopoly-like position worldwide in the field of standardized punched cards and their evaluation.

In Germany, IBM was represented by the profitable subsidiary DEHOMAG until 1949 . In 1943, Watson is said to have said the following memorable sentence: “ I think there is a world market for maybe five computers. ”(“ I think there is a market for maybe five computers worldwide. ”) Author Kevin Maney tried to trace the origin of this quote, but was unable to find any reference to it in Watson's speech or in any other document. During the Nazi era , the company also delivered billions of punched cards to its German subsidiary DEHOMAG, which were used, among other things, to organize the registration of Jewish citizens and the Holocaust more efficiently on behalf of the Nazi regime .

Hans Frank with IBM headphones in Nuremberg in 1946

IBM developed one of the first electrical systems for simultaneous interpreting with microphones , mixing consoles and headphones . First used in 1945 at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva , it was used in the Nuremberg Trials in 1946 . The headphones used during the negotiations, which the accused Nazi criminals in particular wore, were often shown in photos.

IBM Selectric from 1961, designed by Eliot Noyes

In the 1950s and early 1960s, with the models 701 and 1401, the first computers and the associated peripherals in the form of magnetic disk and drum storage devices such as the IBM 305 RAMAC and tape stations and printers were developed. In June 1960 the first transistor-based programmable logic computer from IBM came with the 7070 series .

A large area of ​​business in the 1960s were electric typewriters , especially models with a ball head , which were first offered by IBM. In 1964/65 a new generation of mainframe computers, the S / 360 , came onto the market. The underlying architecture has been further developed in the S / 370 , S / 390 , zSeries, System z , Z Systems and currently IBM Z models . At the same time, the operating system OS / 360 was further developed to the current z / OS via OS / VS1 , MVS / 370 , MVS / XA , MVS / ESA and OS / 390 . For medium to large computer models there was / is DOS for S / 360, which was further developed from S / 370 via DOS / VS , DOS / VSE to z / VSE . The system / 3 was introduced as a low-end computer in 1969 and sold until 1985. What was new here was the smaller punch card format with a third the size of conventional punch cards, which, however, could store more data with 96 instead of 80 characters.

The successor to the IBM 5120 IBM PC : the IBM 5150 model

In 1975 the first “portable” computer, the IBM 5100 , came onto the market with a weight of 25 kilograms, 16 KByte RAM, BASIC, 16 × 64 character display and tape memory. The calculator also failed because of its high price of over $ 9,000 . As a response to the very successful Apple II , IBM brought the first IBM PC onto the market in 1981 . The computer was assembled from standard components freely available on the market and IBM pursued the principle of compatibility. This made it possible for the first time to use software on successor models. The high price of the PC (the equivalent of almost € 5,000) quickly brought up competitors with cheaper offers that could offer "IBM-compatible" computers thanks to the open hardware standard. In the 1990s, IBM lost its market leadership to its competitors. The principle of compatibility and the open hardware standard characterize the PC industry to this day.

The work at the IBM research laboratory in Zurich has resulted in two Nobel Prizes for Physics. The winners are Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer for the invention of the scanning tunneling microscope in 1986, and in 1987 Johannes Georg Bednorz and Karl Alexander Müller for the discovery of high-temperature superconductivity . With Leo Esaki , another Nobel Prize winner worked for a time for IBM research . In 1990, IBM employed 373,820 people worldwide.

IBM has supported open source projects since the late 1990s . For example, Linux is used on IBM servers. An open source project that IBM started is the Eclipse development environment .

As a reaction to changing customer needs, especially for mainframes, the company has undergone significant changes since the 1990s: The proportion of consulting and services has been greatly increased, organizationally combined and most recently further in terms of content and personnel through the acquisition of PwC Consulting with around 30,000 employees worldwide in October 2002 expanded. From 1992 to 2008, SerCon GmbH was a subsidiary that developed and supported service concepts. With the takeover of PwC Consulting, all consulting areas were organizationally combined in IBM. This business unit is now called IBM Global Business Services . IBM sees itself as a globally integrated business and technology partner. In addition to hardware and software solutions, a wide range of consulting and implementation services as well as financing is offered. From 1992 to 2004, IBM also sold notebooks, the ThinkPads .

In February 2001, the American author Edwin Black published the book IBM and the Holocaust . In this he accuses IBM of having worked with the National Socialist regime through its subsidiary DEHOMAG from 1933 to 1945, which made the Holocaust logistically possible with the delivery of Hollerith computers and punch card technology. Before that, IBM Deutschland GmbH had already joined the Compensation Fund for Nazi Forced Laborers . Lawsuits by GIRCA , the Gypsy International Recognition and Compensation Action , against IBM have been dismissed by Swiss courts for lack of jurisdiction - Geneva was not the seat of IBM between 1933 and 1945 - and the statute of limitations.

From March 2002 to December 2011, Samuel J. Palmisano was CEO of IBM. Sam Palmisano succeeded Louis Gerstner, Jr. , who was CEO from 1993 to 2002. With Louis Gerstner Jr., the position of CEO was for the first time not filled by an employee of his own. Palmisano's successor as CEO and President on January 1, 2012 was Virginia Rometty - she was the first woman to take over the management of IBM.

In December 2004, IBM decided to exit the PC business and sold the PC division, including the ThinkPads, to the Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo on May 1, 2005 for 1.75 billion US dollars . IBM expressed itself in a press release on the strategic importance of the sale of the PC division to Lenovo: IBM wants to concentrate in the future above all on mobile devices. The PC era is drawing to a close, the company focus is shifting to the area of mobile web services . Before that, the hard drive division was sold to Hitachi .

In 2006, IBM had 355,766 employees in 170 countries worldwide, sales of $ 91.4 billion and net income of $ 9.4 billion. According to a March 2009 report in the Wall Street Journal , IBM planned to acquire Sun Microsystems for $ 6.5 billion. The deal did not materialize and Sun was bought by Oracle instead . In 2010, for the eighteenth year in a row, IBM was the company with the most patent applications worldwide and was able to increase its own record with 5896 patents again.

In 2017, IBM entered into a partnership with the Indian service provider HCL. In November 2018, IBM sold Lotus’s leftover products to HCL for an estimated $ 1.8 billion. In October 2018, the takeover of the Linux distribution provider Red Hat for 30 billion euros was announced.

On October 28, 2018, IBM announced the acquisition of open source specialist Red Hat for $ 190 per share. That equates to an enterprise value of approximately $ 34 billion, making it one of the largest acquisitions in the US tech sector. The companies completed the acquisition in July 2019 after approval by the relevant authorities. Red Hat remains an independent entity.

As announced in October 2020, IBM plans to outsource its infrastructure business to an independent company called Kyndryl by the end of 2021. Kyndryl's task will then be to design, operate and manage the IT infrastructures for 4,600 customers around the world with 90,000 employees worldwide.


Since July 1, 2008, IBM Deutschland GmbH has been solely responsible for the sale of all products and services including maintenance and consulting services from IBM in Germany. It is a subsidiary of the International Business Machines Corporation, based in Armonk, NY, USA. At IBM in Germany, there are economic links between all group companies. The service network comprises around 20 companies, so that, depending on the focus of the order, the service is provided by one or more companies.  

Structurally, IBM in Germany will be divided into the following fields in 2021:

Research & Development The research and development tasks are bundled in IBM Deutschland Research & Development GmbH.

Sales & Consulting The Sales & Consulting departments are bundled in IBM Deutschland GmbH. It encompasses the entire consulting business as well as the sale of all IBM products and services from IBM in Germany as well as maintenance and consulting services. In addition, all management and support functions are bundled in it. This includes, for example, the areas of finance, human resources, law, marketing and communication.

Solutions & Services The provision of services is bundled in new or renamed Solutions & Services GmbHs.


The most important competitors include Accenture , Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Microsoft , but also Atos SE , T-Systems , Tata Consultancy Services , SAS Institute and SAP . Most recently, IBM and SAP tried to increase their awareness through the use of their analysis software in sports. For this purpose, SAP analyzes the games from the Bundesliga , while IBM has been active in tennis for years. “The IT group [...] has been supplying the Wimbledon tennis tournament with IT for 25 years - now with programs that evaluate player data. In addition, there are real-time analyzes to help viewers follow the games. This enables comparisons to be made back to the beginnings of Wimbledon in 1877 ”. The use of the software in everyday situations is intended to arouse broader understanding and interest in the audience.


IBM Germany

IBM had been represented in Germany with DEHOMAG since November 30, 1910. In 1949 it was renamed “Internationale Büro-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH”, later to “IBM Germany GmbH”.

The head office was in Sindelfingen until 1972 , in Stuttgart-Vaihingen until 2009 and is currently in Ehningen. There were branches in major cities such as Aachen , Bremen ( August-Bebel-Allee 1), Hanover (e.g. IBM house in the List district and at the Euro Plaza ) and Salzgitter . On November 12, 2009, the new headquarters in Ehningen was inaugurated for around 3,000 employees on 12,000 m². The IBM Campus in Ehningen brings together other areas of IBM Deutschland GmbH and is the location of their main data center. In the greater Stuttgart area, their research and development center has also been located in Böblingen since 1953 .

In 2003, IBM took on around 800 employees from Deutsche Bank - which corresponded to a large part of their IT team - to IBM Business Services GmbH (previously IBB ), in which they combined all of their outsourcing efforts. This included the former subsidiary of the Babcock and Borsig companies , DVO data processing service Oberhausen GmbH. The DVO was dissolved in 2003 and the employees were laid off. One of their first outsourcing projects was taking over the IT department from FAG Kugelfischer . She closed the resulting branch in Schweinfurt in 2005, laid off the employees and relocated the work abroad. The manner in which the locations were closed has unsettled many IBM employees. The same applies to the employees taken over from Continental AG in Hanover, Salzgitter and Aachen, who were temporarily employed in the joint ventures "ICA" and "ICG".

After the reorganization in 2005, 22,000 of the previous 25,000 employees remained at 40 locations at the time.

In July 2008 a new structure and process organization was introduced. As part of this, the German IBM was divided into four core areas of expertise along the value chain . There, in turn, it was divided into new, highly specialized and globally integrated companies , into which almost all of the subsidiaries were merged or merged. This measure was inter alia. associated with transfers of operations for around 8,000 employees.

In 2013, the first IBM IT service center in Germany opened in Magdeburg with around 300 employees for software consulting and development. It is to become part of a network of 32 IBM centers worldwide.

Until May 2011, the management consisted of Chairman Martin Jetter , Reinhard Reschke for Finance , Dieter Scholz for Human Resources , Michael Diemer for Global Technology Services , Gregor Pillen for Global Business Services and Martina Koederitz for SMEs and partner business . The latter followed on May 4, 2011, Martin Jetter, who took over the chairmanship of the supervisory board.

At the beginning of 2016, plans became known to cut around 1000 of the then 15,000 employees in 16 companies and 24 branches.

Matthias Hartmann has headed the IBM DACH organization and the GmbH management since January 2018, and Gregor Pillen was the managing director at the beginning of 2020.

Corporate structure of IBM Germany

Aerial view of the IBM Germany Research & Development site in Boeblingen
  • Research & Development
  • Sales & Consulting
    • IBM Germany GmbH, Ehningen
    • IBM Germany Kreditbank GmbH, Ehningen
  • Solutions & Services
  • Management & Support
    • IBM Germany Management & Business Support GmbH, Ehningen
    • IBM Germany Support Fund GmbH
    • IBM Germany Pension Fund VVaG

IBM Slovakia

In Slovakia there are two branches of IBM: IBM is a Slovensko, headquartered in Apollo Business Center II in Bratislava and offices in Banská Bystrica and Košice . The second branch, called the IBM International Services Center, has existed since 2003 and supports IBM's activities primarily in the areas of finance, IT and sales. In addition to the Apollo Business Center II, IBM ISC has two other locations in Bratislava, namely in Westend Gate (since 2014) and in Tower 115.

IBM Austria

IBM Austria is based in Vienna . There are branches in almost every federal state. Patricia Neumann has been CEO since October 1, 2017.

IBM Switzerland

IBM Switzerland is based in Zurich . Around 3,300 people are employed in Switzerland. IBM Switzerland AG was founded in 1927 as an international business machinery company. In 1937 the name was changed to Watson Business Machines AG, and in 1943 to IBM Extension Suisse. In 1970 the definitive name was given to IBM Switzerland.

The Unicible based in Prilly was on software solutions for banks specialized Swiss IT service provider . The company, founded in 1992, was a wholly owned subsidiary of Banque Cantonale Vaudoise (BCV) and focused on the banking market in western Switzerland .

In the course of a strategic reorientation in the IT area, Unicible was sold to IBM Switzerland in 2007 . This took over all of Unicible's assets and 330 employees. The remaining 60 employees were integrated into BCV. As a result, the Unicible activities were incorporated into the IBM Banking Competence Center , the IBM Banking Competence Center , newly created by IBM Switzerland at the previous Unicible location in Prilly .

IBM France

IBM France is the French subsidiary of IBM in France . Active in France since 1955, it is based in Bois-Colombes .


In the annual ranking of the “Companies with the most US patents - 2020”, IBM received 9,130 ​​US patents, followed by Samsung Electronic with 6,415 patents and Canon Inc with 3,225 US patents. 8,500 IBM inventions from 54 countries were involved. These inventions, which have been awarded a US patent, come in particular from the areas of artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, cloud computing and IT security.


In the course of the company's history, IBM has developed, manufactured and sold products for various areas of data processing. The company's first products are based on punched card machines that were used for censuses in the United States as early as the 1880s. For a long time, the company was considered a hardware provider in particular, but today the portfolio ranges from industry solutions and services, including consulting services, to supercomputers and software, to financing. Strategic topics such as artificial intelligence / business analytics, cloud computing, security, quantum computing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain technologies form the basis for the transformation of the company to a cognitive solutions and cloud platform that can be observed today -Providers.

Operating systems

IBM started with Microsoft OS / 2 as a desktop - operating system to develop for IBM-compatible PCs. When Microsoft left this business to concentrate entirely on Windows as the operating system for IBM-compatible computers, IBM developed the operating system on its own. Despite its technical superiority, OS / 2 could not prevail over MS Windows with the customers, which led to the discontinuation of further development. OS / 2 can still be found today mainly in banks , but also in insurance companies , airlines and in the manufacturing industry.

When it comes to mainframes , IBM operating systems ( z / OS ) dominate the market. Germany is a regional exception, where the BS2000 / OSD operating system from Fujitsu is also frequently used.

IBM officially announced in February 1999 that it would support Linux as an operating system platform and was soon one of its biggest sponsors. In 2000, the company invested about $ 1 billion in the development of this free operating system , from which it benefited significantly financially in later years. Among other things, a possibility was created to run Linux on S / 390 or z systems; either directly or as a guest system under the z / VM operating system . This enables server consolidations on the mainframe. Several Linux distributions are available for this today.

AIX , a Unix derivative developed by IBM, runs on power processor- based workstations and enterprise servers such as the RS / 6000 or pSeries from IBM . IBM provides a selection for AIX, mostly free software known from Linux. The so-called AIX Toolbox is available on the IBM website for this purpose . A pure 64-bit Linux can also be used on all modern pSeries servers.

The PowerPC processors are also used in the i5 servers, which, in addition to IBM's own i5 / OS operating system, can also run Linux, AIX and, via special plug-in cards such as Integrated PC Server (IPCS), Windows as an operating system integrated in a machine. The i5 server series from IBM is currently the system with the highest integration factor - correct from a technical point of view - hence the name “I” from Integration.

Computer processors

6x86 microprocessor

Computer processors developed by IBM:


IBM has developed a number of mainframes and z. T. distributed in series. In the 1950s and 1960s, IBM was best known for the IBM 700/7000 series . The current product from the IBM mainframe product line is called IBM z Systems.

Unix workstation and server

Personal computer

IBM Notebook 5140 with printer, 1985

Building on the model platform of the IBM PC and its successors, the market segment of personal computers is shaped by IBM itself and by third-party manufacturers with IBM PC-compatible models to this day. As already described above, IBM decided in December 2004 to exit the PC business.

Input / output devices

IBM Model M keyboard from 1989

Mice , keyboards (e.g. IBM Model M ), terminals (e.g. IBM 3270 ), printers, paper tape readers, etc. were also sold under the brand name IBM .

Corporate culture

In 1935, the first woman was hired by IBM as a specialist. The then director of the company Thomas J. Watson Sr. wrote: “Men and women will do the same work for the same money. They are treated equally, assume the same responsibility and have the same development opportunities. ”In 1953, the company made a declaration that it would only employ skilled workers on the basis of their ability“ regardless of race, skin color or creed ”. In 1984 sexual orientation was included in this anti-discrimination rule. On October 10, 2005, IBM announced that it was the first multinational corporation to undertake not to use genetic data from employees or applicants in any personnel decision .

With the IBM Fellow , IBM awards its own highest technical career level and distinction. Since TJ Watson launched the program in 1963, 305 employees have been named IBM Fellows, 89 of whom are still employed by IBM today. These include 5 Nobel Prize winners. (As of May 2019).


In 1989 Donald Eigler wrote the words "IBM" and thus the "smallest" letters on a nickel surface with 35 xenon atoms.

In 1992, IBM Germany was the first company in Germany to introduce teleworking on a voluntary basis for 200 employees . In 1998 it was decided that time clocks would be abolished at IBM. However, an electronic time recording system is still available to employees, which they can use on a voluntary basis, unless instructed by the manager.

In March 2005, IBM decided to close the Schweinfurt and Hanover locations , but not Hanover-Bemerode , even though they were operating profitably. At the beginning of 2006, it was announced that IBM in Germany would like to terminate pension plans for employees who joined the company before 1990. This was withdrawn due to opposition from the works council . Instead, the vacation pay was canceled shortly afterwards in some subsidiaries, which effectively meant a loss of wages of around 5 percent per employee. The One IBM strategy was announced at the beginning of 2008 . About 8000 employees were transferred to new or renamed companies by transfer of operations in accordance with Section 613a of the German Civil Code . Subsidiaries such as SerCon GmbH and it have been integrated, and service units have been combined into individual companies. The aim was a clear market presence under the “IBM Germany” brand and a bundling of competencies.

In October 2009, IBM put Senior Vice President Robert Moffat on leave as one of the supposed main characters in an insider trading scandal. He is said to have passed on confidential information about IBM balance sheets and transactions with partner companies. Moffat was considered a possible successor to IBM boss Sam Palmisano and had worked in various functions at IBM since 1978.

IBM Germany received a Big Brother Award in 2016 for its software Social Dashboard , which is used to evaluate internal network contacts of employees .


Web links

Commons : IBM  album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

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