The International Business Machines Corporation (commonly referred as IBM) is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation, with headquarters in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and markets computer hardware and software, and offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology.
The company was founded in 1911 as the Computing Tabulating Recording Company (CTR) through a merger of three companies: the Tabulating Machine Company, the International Time Recording Company, and the Computing Scale Company. CTR adopted the name International Business Machines in 1924, using a name previously designated to CTR's subsidiary in Canada and later South America. Securities analysts nicknamed IBM Big Blue in recognition of IBM's common use of blue in products, packaging, and logo.
In 2012, Fortune ranked IBM the No. 2 largest U.S. firm in terms of number of employees (435,000), the No. 4 largest in terms of market capitalization, the No. 9 most profitable, and the No. 19 largest firm in terms of revenue. Globally, the company was ranked the No. 31 largest in terms of revenue by Forbes for 2011. Other rankings for 2011/2012 include No. 1 company for leaders (Fortune), No. 1 green company worldwide (Newsweek), No. 2 best global brand (Interbrand), No. 2 most respected company (Barron's), No. 5 most admired company (Fortune), and No. 18 most innovative company (Fast Company).
IBM has 12 research laboratories worldwide and, as of 2013, has held the record for most patents generated by a company for 20 consecutive years. Its employees have garnered five Nobel Prizes, six Turing Awards, ten National Medals of Technology, and five National Medals of Science. Notable inventions by IBM include the automated teller machine (ATM), the floppy disk, the hard disk drive, the magnetic stripe card, the relational database, the Universal Product Code (UPC), the financial swap, SABRE airline reservation system, DRAM, and Watson artificial intelligence.
The company has undergone several organizational changes since its inception, acquiring companies such as Kenexa (2012) and SPSS (2009) and organizations such as PwC's consulting business (2002), spinning off companies like Lexmark (1991), and selling off product lines like ThinkPad to Lenovo (2005).
1.4 Corporate affairs,
1.5 Corporate recognition and brand,
1.6 Working at IBM,
2 Research and inventions,
3 Selected current projects,
4 Environmental record,
5 Company logo and nickname,
6 See also,
8 Further reading,
9 External links,
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Thomas J. Watson, who led IBM from 1914 to 1956, discussing the company's motto "THINK"
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Starting in the 1880s, various technologies came into existence that would form part of IBM's predecessor company. Julius E. Pitrat patented the computing scale in 1885; Alexander Dey invented the dial recorder (1888); in 1889, Herman Hollerith patented the Electric Tabulating Machine and Willard Bundy invented a time clock to record a worker's arrival and departure time on a paper tape.
On June 16, 1911, these technologies and their respective companies were merged by Charles Ranlett Flint to form the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (C-T-R). The New York City-based company had 1,300 employees and offices and plants in Endicott and Binghamton, New York; Dayton, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Washington, D.C.; and Toronto, Ontario. It manufactured and sold machinery ranging from commercial scales and industrial time recorders to meat and cheese slicers, along with tabulators and punched cards.
Flint recruited Thomas J. Watson, Sr., formerly of the National Cash Register Company, to help lead the company in 1914. Watson implemented "generous sales incentives, a focus on customer service, an insistence on well-groomed, dark-suited salesmen and an evangelical fervor for instilling company pride and loyalty in every worker". His favorite slogan, "THINK", became a mantra for C-T-R's employees, and within 11 months of joining C-T-R, Watson became its president. The company focused on providing large-scale, custom-built tabulating solutions for businesses, leaving the market for small office products to others. During Watson's first four years, revenues more than doubled to $9 million and the company's operations expanded to Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia. On February 14, 1924, C-T-R was renamed the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), citing the need to align its name with the "growth and extension of its activities".
In 1937, IBM's tabulating equipment enabled organizations to process unprecedented amounts of data, its clients including the U.S. Government, during its first effort to maintain the employment records for 26 million people pursuant to the Social Security Act, and the Third Reich, largely through the German subsidiary Dehomag. During the Second World War the company produced small arms for the American war effort (M1 Carbine, and Browning Automatic Rifle). In 1947, IBM opened its first office in Bahrain.
In 1952, Thomas J. Watson, Jr., became president of the company, ending almost 40 years of leadership by his father. In 1956, Arthur L. Samuel of IBM's Poughkeepsie, New York, laboratory programmed an IBM 704 to play checkers using a method in which the machine can "learn" from its own experience. It is believed to be the first "self-learning" program, a demonstration of the concept of artificial intelligence. In 1957, IBM developed the FORTRAN (FORmula TRANslation) scientific programming language. In 1961, Thomas J. Watson, Jr., was elected chairman of the board and Albert L. Williams became president of the company. IBM develops the SABRE (Semi-Automatic Business-Related Environment) reservation system for American Airlines. The IBM Selectric typewriter was a highly successful model line of electric typewriters introduced by IBM on July 31, 1961.
In 1963, IBM employees and computers helped NASA track the orbital flight of the Mercury astronauts, and a year later, the company moved its corporate headquarters from New York City to Armonk, New York. The latter half of that decade saw IBM continue its support of space exploration, with IBM participating in the 1965 Gemini flights, the 1966 Saturn flights, and the 1969 mission to land a man on the moon.
On April 7, 1964 IBM announced the first computer system family, the IBM System/360. Sold between 1964 and 1978, it was the first family of computers designed to cover the complete range of applications, from small to large, both commercial and scientific. For the first time, companies could upgrade their computing capabilities with a new model without rewriting their applications.
In 1974, IBM engineer George M. Laurer developed the Universal Product Code. On October 11, 1973, IBM introduced the IBM 3660, a laser-scanning point-of-sale barcode reader which would become the workhorse of retail checkouts. On June 26, 1974, at Marsh's supermarket in Troy, Ohio, a pack of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit chewing gum was the first-ever product scanned. That pack is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
In the late 1970s, IBM underwent some internal convulsions between those in management wanting to concentrate on their bread-and-butter mainframe business, and those wanting the company to invest heavily in the emerging personal computer industry.
Financial swaps were first introduced to the public in 1981 when IBM and the World Bank entered into a swap agreement. The IBM PC, originally designated IBM 5150, was introduced in 1981, and it soon became the industry standard. In 1991, IBM sold Lexmark. In 1993, IBM posted what at the time was the biggest loss in the history of corporate America: US$8 billion.
In 2002, it acquired PwC consulting. In 2003, IBM initiated a project to rewrite its company values. Using its Jam technology, the company hosted Internet-based online discussions on key business issues with 50,000 employees over 3 days. The discussions were analyzed by sophisticated text analysis software (eClassifier) to mine online comments for themes. As a result of the 2003 Jam, the company values were updated to reflect three modern business, marketplace and employee views: "Dedication to every client's success", "Innovation that matters--for our company and for the world", "Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships". In 2004, another Jam was conducted during which 52,000 employees exchanged best practices for 72 hours. They focused on finding actionable ideas to support implementation of the values previously identified.
In 2005, the company sold its personal computer business to Lenovo, and in the same year, agreed to acquire Micromuse. A year later, IBM launched Secure Blue, a low-cost hardware design for data encryption that can be built into a microprocessor. In 2009, it acquired software company SPSS Inc. Later in 2009, IBM's Blue Gene supercomputing program was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by U.S. President Barack Obama. In 2011, IBM gained worldwide attention for its artificial intelligence program Watson, which was exhibited on Jeopardy! where it won against game show champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. As of 2011, IBM had been the top annual recipient of U.S. patents for 19 consecutive years.
IBM's closing value of $214 billion on September 29, 2011 surpassed Microsoft which was valued at $213.2 billion. It was the first time since 1996 that IBM exceeded its software rival based on closing price. On August 16, 2012, IBM announced it entered an agreement to buy Texas Memory Systems. Later that month, IBM announced it has agreed to buy Kenexa. The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter. The deal is worth $1.3 billion and was paid in cash by IBM.
In June 2013, IBM acquired SoftLayer Technologies, a web hosting service, in a deal of around $2 billion.
In August 2013, US regulators began an investigation into how the firm reports revenue from its cloud computing business. Also in August, IBM acquired Trusteer, an Israel-based, privately held, computer-security company responsible for the development of Rapport security software, in a deal close to $1 billion.
IBM's headquarters complex is located in Armonk, Town of North Castle, New York, United States. The 283,000-square-foot (26,300 m) IBM building has three levels of custom curtain wall. The building is located on a 25-acre (10 ha) site. IBM has been headquartered in Armonk since 1964.
The company has twelve research labs worldwide--Almaden, Austin, Australia, Brazil, China, Dublin, Israel, India, Tokyo, Watson (New York), Zurich and Nairobi--with Watson (dedicated in 1961) serving as headquarters for the research division and the site of its annual meeting. Other campus installations include towers in Montreal, Paris, and Atlanta; software labs in Raleigh-Durham, Rome and Toronto; buildings in Chicago, Johannesburg, and Seattle; and facilities in Hakozaki and Yamato. The company also operates the IBM Scientific Center, Hursley House, the Canada Head Office Building, IBM Rochester, and the Somers Office Complex. The company's contributions to architecture and design, including Chicago's 330 North Wabash building designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, were recognized with the 1990 Honor Award from the National Building Museum.
IBM's Board of Directors, with 14 members, is responsible for the overall management of the company. With Cathie Black's resignation from the board in November 2010, the remaining 13 members (along with their affiliation and year of joining the board) are as follows: Alain J. P. Belda '08 (Alcoa), William R. Brody '07 (Salk Institute / Johns Hopkins University), Kenneth Chenault '98 (American Express), Michael L. Eskew '05 (UPS), Shirley Ann Jackson '05 (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Andrew N. Liveris '10 (Dow Chemical), W. James McNerney, Jr. '09 (Boeing), James W. Owens '06 (Caterpillar), Samuel J. Palmisano '00 (IBM), Joan Spero '04 (Doris Duke Charitable Foundation), Sidney Taurel '01 (Eli Lilly), and Lorenzo Zambrano '03 (Cemex).
Various IBM facilities
IBM Rochester (Minnesota), nicknamed the "Big Blue Zoo"
IBM Avenida de América Building in Madrid, Spain
Somers (New York) Office Complex, designed by I.M. Pei
IBM Japan Makuhari Technical Center, designed by Yoshio Taniguchi
IBM Haifa Research Lab, Haifa, Israel
Corporate recognition and brand:
In 2012, Fortune ranked IBM the No. 2 largest U.S. firm in terms of number of employees, the No. 4 largest in terms of market capitalization, the No. 9 most profitable, and the No. 19 largest firm in terms of revenue. Globally, the company was ranked the No. 31 largest firm in terms of revenue by Forbes for 2011. Other rankings for 2011/2012 include the following:
No. 1 company for leaders (Fortune),
No. 1 green company worldwide (Newsweek),
No. 2 best global brand (Interbrand),
No. 2 most respected company (Barron's),
No. 5 most admired company (Fortune),
No. 18 most innovative company (Fast Company),
For 2012, IBM's brand was valued by Interbrand at $75.5 billion.
For 2012, Vault ranked IBM Global Technology Services No. 1 in tech consulting for cyber security, operations and implementation, and public sector; and No. 2 in outsourcing.
Working at IBM:
IBM's employee management practices can be traced back to its roots. In 1914, CEO Thomas J. Watson boosted company spirit by creating employee sports teams, hosting family outings, and furnishing a company band. In 1924 the Quarter Century Club, which recognizes employees with 25 years of service, was organized and the first issue of Business Machines, IBM's internal publication, was published. In 1925, the first meeting of the Hundred Percent Club, composed of IBM salesmen who meet their quotas, convened in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
IBM was among the first corporations to provide group life insurance (1934), survivor benefits (1935) and paid vacations (1937). In 1932 IBM created an Education Department to oversee training for employees, which oversaw the completion of the IBM Schoolhouse at Endicott in 1933. In 1935, the employee magazine Think was created. Also that year, IBM held its first training class for female systems service professionals. In 1942, IBM launched a program to train and employ disabled people in Topeka, Kansas. The next year classes begin in New York City, and soon the company was asked to join the President's Committee for Employment of the Handicapped. In 1946, the company hired its first black salesman, 18 years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1947, IBM announced a Total and Permanent Disability Income Plan for employees. A vested rights pension was added to the IBM retirement plan.
In 1952, Thomas J. Watson, Jr., published the company's first written equal opportunity policy letter, one year before the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education and 11 years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1961, IBM's nondiscrimination policy was expanded to include sex, national origin, and age. The following year, IBM hosted its first Invention Award Dinner honoring 34 outstanding IBM inventors; and in 1963, the company named the first eight IBM Fellows in a new Fellowship Program that recognizes senior IBM scientists, engineers and other professionals for outstanding technical achievements.
On September 21, 1953, Thomas Watson, Jr., the company's president at the time, sent out a controversial letter to all IBM employees stating that IBM needed to hire the best people, regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or gender. He also publicized the policy so that in his negotiations to build new manufacturing plants with the governors of two states in the U.S. South, he could be clear that IBM would not build "separate-but-equal" workplaces. In 1984, IBM added sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy. The company stated that this would give IBM a competitive advantage because IBM would then be able to hire talented people its competitors would turn down.
IBM was the only technology company ranked in Working Mother magazine's Top 10 for 2004, and one of two technology companies in 2005. On October 10, 2005, IBM became the first major company in the world to commit formally to not use genetic information in employment decisions. The announcement was made shortly after IBM began working with the National Geographic Society on its Genographic Project.
IBM provides same-sex partners of its employees with health benefits and provides an anti-discrimination clause. The Human Rights Campaign has consistently rated IBM 100% on its index of gay-friendliness since 2003 (in 2002, the year it began compiling its report on major companies, IBM scored 86%). In 2007 and again in 2010, IBM UK was ranked first in Stonewall's annual Workplace Equality Index for UK employers.
The company has traditionally resisted labor union organizing, although unions represent some IBM workers outside the United States. In 2009, the Unite union stated that several hundred employees joined following the announcement in the UK of pension cuts that left many employees facing a shortfall in projected pensions.
A dark (or gray) suit, white shirt, and a "sincere" tie was the public uniform for IBM employees for most of the 20th century. During IBM's management transformation in the 1990s, CEO Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. relaxed these codes, normalizing the dress and behavior of IBM employees to resemble their counterparts in other large technology companies. Since then IBM's dress code is business casual although employees often wear business suits during client meetings.
On June 16, 2011, as part of its centenary celebrations the company announced IBM100, a year-long grants program to fund employee participation in volunteer projects.
Research and inventions:
In 1945, The Watson Scientific Computing Laboratory was founded at Columbia University in New York, New York. The renovated fraternity house on Manhattan's West Side was used as IBM's first laboratory devoted to pure science. The lab was the forerunner of IBM's Research Division, which today operates research facilities around the world.
In 1966, IBM researcher Robert H. Dennard invented Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) cells, one-transistor memory cells that store each single bit of information as an electrical charge in an electronic circuit. The technology permits major increases in memory density and is widely adopted throughout the industry where it remains in widespread use today.
IBM has been a leading proponent of the Open Source Initiative, and began supporting Linux in 1998. The company invests billions of dollars in services and software based on Linux through the IBM Linux Technology Center, which includes over 300 Linux kernel developers. IBM has also released code under different open source licenses, such as the platform-independent software framework Eclipse (worth approximately US$40 million at the time of the donation), the three-sentence International Components for Unicode (ICU) license, and the Java-based relational database management system (RDBMS) Apache Derby. IBM's open source involvement has not been trouble-free, however (see SCO v. IBM).
In 2013, Booz and Company placed IBM sixteenth among the 20 most innovatives companies in the world. The company spend 6% of its revenue (6,3 billon dollars) in research and development.
Famous inventions by IBM include the following:
Automated teller machine (ATM),
Hard disk drive,
Magnetic stripe card,
Scanning tunneling microscope,
Reduced instruction set computing,
Universal Product Code (UPC),
SABRE airline reservation system,
Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM),
Watson artificial intelligence,
Selected current projects:
DeveloperWorks is a website run by IBM for software developers and IT professionals. It contains how-to articles and tutorials, as well as software downloads and code samples, discussion forums, podcasts, blogs, wikis, and other resources for developers and technical professionals. Subjects range from open, industry-standard technologies like Java, Linux, SOA and web services, web development, Ajax, PHP, and XML to IBM's products (WebSphere, Rational, Lotus, Tivoli and Information Management). In 2007, developerWorks was inducted into the Jolt Hall of Fame.
alphaWorks is IBM's source for emerging software technologies. These technologies include:
Flexible Internet Evaluation Report Architecture - A highly flexible architecture for the design, display, and reporting of Internet surveys.,
IBM History Flow Visualization Application - A tool for visualizing dynamic, evolving documents and the interactions of multiple collaborating authors.,
IBM Linux on POWER Performance Simulator - A tool that provides users of Linux on Power a set of performance models for IBM's POWER processors.,
Database File Archive And Restoration Management - An application for archiving and restoring hard disk drive files using file references stored in a database.,
Policy Management for Autonomic Computing - A policy-based autonomic management infrastructure that simplifies the automation of IT and business processes.,
FairUCE - A spam filter that verifies sender identity instead of filtering content.,
Unstructured Information Management Architecture (UIMA) SDK - A Java SDK that supports the implementation, composition, and deployment of applications working with unstructured data.,
Accessibility Browser - A web-browser specifically designed to assist people with visual impairments, to be released as open source software. Also known as the "A-Browser," the technology will aim to eliminate the need for a mouse, relying instead completely on voice-controls, buttons and predefined shortcut keys.,
Virtually all console gaming systems of the latest generation use microprocessors developed by IBM. The Xbox 360 contains a PowerPC tri-core processor, which was designed and produced by IBM in less than 24 months. Sony's PlayStation 3 features the Cell BE microprocessor designed jointly by IBM, Toshiba, and Sony. IBM also provided the microprocessor that serves as the heart of Nintendo's new Wii U system, which debuted in 2012. The new Power Architecture-based microprocessor includes IBM's latest technology in an energy-saving silicon package.Nintendo's seventh-generation console, Wii, features an IBM chip codenamed Broadway. The older Nintendo GameCube utilizes the Gekko processor, also designed by IBM.
In May 2002, IBM and Butterfly.net, Inc. announced the Butterfly Grid, a commercial grid for the online video gaming market. In March 2006, IBM announced separate agreements with Hoplon Infotainment, Online Game Services Incorporated (OGSI), and RenderRocket to provide on-demand content management and blade server computing resources.
IBM announced it will launch its new software, called "Open Client Offering" which is to run on Linux, Microsoft Windows and Apple's Mac OS X. The company states that its new product allows businesses to offer employees a choice of using the same software on Windows and its alternatives. This means that "Open Client Offering" is to cut costs of managing whether to use Linux or Apple relative to Windows. There will be no necessity for companies to pay Microsoft for its licenses for operating systems since the operating systems will no longer rely on software which is Windows-based. One alternative to Microsoft's office document formats is the Open Document Format software, whose development IBM supports. It is going to be used for several tasks like: word processing, presentations, along with collaboration with Lotus Notes, instant messaging and blog tools as well as an Internet Explorer competitor - the Mozilla Firefox web browser. IBM plans to install Open Client on 5% of its desktop PCs. The Linux offering has been made available as the IBM Client for Smart Work product on the Ubuntu and Red Hat Enterprise Linux platforms.
The UC2 (Unified Communications and Collaboration) Client Platform is an IBM and Cisco Systems joint project based on Eclipse and OSGi. It will offer the numerous Eclipse application developers a unified platform for an easier work environment. The software based on UC2 platform will provide major enterprises with easy-to-use communication solutions, such as the Lotus based Sametime. In the future the Sametime users will benefit from such additional functions as click-to-call and voice mailing.
Redbooks are publicly available online books about best practices with IBM products. They describe the products features, field experience and dos and don'ts, while leaving aside marketing buzz. Available formats are Redbooks, Redpapers and Redpieces.
Extreme Blue is a company initiative that uses experienced IBM engineers, talented interns, and business managers to develop high-value technology. The project is designed to analyze emerging business needs and the technologies that can solve them. These projects mostly involve rapid-prototyping of high-profile software and hardware projects.
In 2006, IBM launched Secure Blue, encryption hardware that can be built into microprocessors. A year later, IBM unveiled Project Big Green, a re-direction of $1 billion per year across its businesses to increase energy efficiency. On November 2008, IBM's CEO, Sam Palmisano, during a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, outlined a new agenda for building a Smarter Planet. On March 1, 2011, IBM announced the Smarter Computing framework to support Smarter Planet. On Aug 18, 2011, as part of its effort in cognitive computing, IBM has produced chips that imitate neurons and synapses. These microprocessors do not use von Neumann architecture, and they consume less memory and power.
IBM also holds the SmartCamp program globally. The program searches for fresh start-up companies that IBM can partner with to solve world problems. IBM holds 17 SmartCamp events around the world. Since July 2011, IBM has partnered with Pennies, the electronic charity box, and produced a software solution for IBM retail customers that provides an easy way to donate money when paying in-store by credit or debit card. Customers donate just a few pence (1p-99p) a time and every donation goes to UK charities.
IBM was recognized as one of the "Top 20 Best Workplaces for Commuters" by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2005. The award was to recognize Fortune 500 companies which provided employees with excellent commuter benefits to help reduce traffic and air pollution.
The birthplace of IBM, Endicott, suffered pollution for decades, however. IBM used liquid cleaning agents in circuit board assembly operation for more than two decades, and six spills and leaks were recorded, including one leak in 1979 of 4,100 gallons from an underground tank. These left behind volatile organic compounds in the town's soil and aquifer. Trace elements of volatile organic compounds have been identified in Endicott's drinking water, but the levels are within regulatory limits. Also, from 1980, IBM has pumped out 78,000 gallons of chemicals, including trichloroethane, freon, benzene and perchloroethene to the air and allegedly caused several cancer cases among the townspeople. IBM Endicott has been identified by the Department of Environmental Conservation as the major source of pollution, though traces of contaminants from a local dry cleaner and other polluters were also found. Despite the amount of pollutant, state health officials could not verify whether air or water pollution in Endicott has actually caused any health problems. According to city officials, tests show that the water is safe to drink.
Tokyo Ohka Kogyo Co., Ltd. (TOK) and IBM are collaborating to establish new, low-cost methods for bringing the next generation of solar energy products, called CIGS (Copper-Indium-Gallium-Selenide) solar cell modules, to market. Use of thin film technology, such as CIGS, has great promise in reducing the overall cost of solar cells and further enabling their widespread adoption.
IBM is exploring four main areas of photovoltaic research: using current technologies to develop cheaper and more efficient silicon solar cells, developing new solution-processed thin film photovoltaic devices, concentrator photovoltaics, and future generation photovoltaic architectures based upon nanostructures such as semiconductor quantum dots and nanowires.
Company logo and nickname:
IBM's current "8-bar" logo was designed in 1972 by graphic designer Paul Rand. It was a general replacement for a 13-bar logo that first appeared in public on the 1966 release of the TSS/360. Logos designed in the 1970s tended to be sensitive to the technical limitations of photocopiers, which were then being widely deployed. A logo with large solid areas tended to be poorly copied by copiers in the 1970s, so companies preferred logos that avoided large solid areas. The 1972 IBM logos are an example of this tendency. With the advent of digital copiers in the mid-1980s this technical restriction had largely disappeared; at roughly the same time, the 13-bar logo was abandoned for almost the opposite reason - it was difficult to render accurately on the low-resolution digital printers (240 dots per inch) of the time. The company wrote the IBM initials using individual atoms in 1990, as a demonstration of using a scanning tunneling microscope to move atoms. This was the first structure assembled one atom at a time.
Big Blue is a nickname for IBM. There are several theories explaining the origin of the name. One theory, substantiated by people who worked for IBM at the time, is that IBM field representatives coined the term in the 1960s, referring to the color of the mainframes IBM installed in the 1960s and early 1970s. True Blue referred to a loyal IBM customer, and business writers later picked up the term. Another theory suggests that Big Blue refers to the Company's logo. A third theory suggests that Big Blue refers to a former company dress code that required many IBM employees to wear only white shirts and many wore blue suits. In any event, IBM keyboards, typewriters, and some other manufactured devices have played on the "Big Blue" concept, using the color for enter keys and carriage returns. IBM has also used blue logos since 1947, making blue the defining color of the company's corporate design, which might be another, more plausible reason for the term.