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Technology powerhouse IBM traces origins back to modest roots

Technology powerhouse IBM traces origins back to modest roots

The name International Business Machines Corp. may be synonymous with computers, but the company's origin is closer to the invention of the electric light bulb in 1879 than it is to the Internet of current times.

IBM traces its beginnings to the International Time Recording Co., which began as the Bundy Manufacturing Co. in Auburn, New York. The company's main product line was mechanical time recorders, which were invented and patented by Willard L. Bundy in 1888.

Meanwhile, two businessmen from Dayton, Ohio — Edward Canby and Orange O. Ozias — purchased the patents for the newly invented computing scale and incorporated the Computing Scale Co. for the production of commercial scales in 1891.

Twenty years later, in 1911, financier Charles R. Flint put together the merger of those two companies with the Tabulating Machine Co. — which had been founded by data-processing pioneer Herman Hollerith — to form the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Co. In 1914, the company named Thomas J. Watson Sr. as general manager. According to IBM archives, Mr. Watson emphasized research and engineering, and introduced into the company his famous motto “THINK.”

The Computing-Tabulating-Recording Co. adopted the name International Business Machines Corp. in 1924.

“The ornate, rococo letters that formed the "CTR' logo were replaced by the words "Business Machines' in more contemporary sans-serif type, and in a form intended to suggest a globe, girdled by the word "International,'” according to IBM archives.

In 1944, the company presented its first large-scale computer — the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator — to Harvard University. Eight years later, IBM introduced the 701, its first production computer, which was designed primarily for scientific calculations. Ever-more sophisticated computers followed.

Mr. Watson died and was succeeded as CEO by his son, Thomas Watson Jr., in 1956.

As IBM continued to grow and dominate the data processing industry, it drew government scrutiny. In 1969, the federal govern- ment instituted antitrust action against the company. The action was finally dropped in 1982.

Today, Armonk, New York-based IBM has more than 430,000 employees around the world. Its businesses include computer hardware and software, technology consulting, business consulting and financing. IBM's 2014 revenues reached $92.4 billion.

Virginia M. Rometty, who began her career with IBM in 1981 in Detroit, is currently the company's chairman, president and CEO.

Yet until 2005, IBM outsourced most of its risk management function to its brokers, one of whom was Kathleen M. Ireland, this year's Risk Manager of the Year® and currently vice president, global risk and insurance.

Ms. Ireland was hired to bring risk management in-house. Yet despite IBM's complexity and global reach, the risk management department consists of fewer than 10 people. The department's small size has not prevented it from being designated a “center of excellence” within IBM, with responsibility for insurance matters across the company.

In addition to Ms. Ireland, the department consists of Micheline Baker, risk manager; Sabina Bilinsky, risk manager; Sean Fresen, assistant risk manager; Elisa Underhill, lead insurance analyst; Denise Jones, insurance analyst; and Jason Pittock, GEO lead, Europe Middle East Africa and India.

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