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1950s International Business Machines

April 2024
1min read

FIRST IN THE COMPUTER AGE

Two centuries after the Industrial Revolution got its start in the textile mills of England, the Information Revolution was born with the big mainframe computers that automated routine corporate paperwork. Interest in computers burgeoned in the 1950s because of the successful salesmanship of IBM.

IBM, like U.S. Steel, was a big company that sold to other corporations rather than directly to the general public. Its machines weren’t the most technically advanced, but its product support was unsurpassed. Customer reps showed clients how IBM could help them, and then remained at hand when problems arose.

IBM’s gross revenues leaped from $700 million in 1956 to $2.6 billion in 1962. Other firms tried to compete, but people described the industry as “IBM and the Seven Dwarfs.”

The company maintained its hegemony into the 1980s, when the desktop computer began to do away with the need for mainframes.

—T.A.H.

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