In 2012, Fortune ranked IBM the second largest U.S. firm in terms of number of employees (435,000 worldwide), the fourth largest in terms of market capitalization, the ninth most profitable, and the nineteenth largest firm in terms of revenue. Globally, the company was ranked the 31st largest in terms of revenue by Forbes for 2011. Other rankings for 2011/2012 include №1 company for leaders (Fortune), №1 green company in the United States (Newsweek), №2 best global brand (Interbrand), №2 most respected company (Barron's), №5 most admired company (Fortune), and №18 most innovative company (Fast Company).
IBM has constantly evolved since its inception. Over the past decade, it has steadily shifted its business mix by exiting commoditizing markets such as PCs, hard disk drives and DRAMs and focusing on higher-value, more profitable markets such as business intelligence, data analytics, business continuity, security, cloud computing, virtualization and green solutions, resulting in a higher quality revenue stream and higher profit margins. IBM's operating margin expanded from 16.8% in 2004 to 24.3% in 2013, and net profit margins expanded from 9.0% in 2004 to 16.5% in 2013.
IBM acquired Kenexa (2012) and SPSS (2009) and PwC's consulting business (2002), spinning off companies like printer manufacturer Lexmark (1991), and selling off product lines like its personal computer and x86server businesses to Lenovo (2005, 2014). In 2014, IBM announced that it would go "fabless" by offloading IBM Micro Electronics semiconductor manufacturing to GlobalFoundries, a leader in advanced technology manufacturing, citing that semiconductor manufacturing is a capital-intensive business which is challenging to operate without scale. This transition had progressed as of early 2015[update].
On August 6, 2015, IBM announced that it will buy Merge Healthcare Inc for $1 billion.
In the 1880s, technologies emerged that would ultimately form the core of what would become International Business Machines (IBM). Julius E. Pitrat patented the computing scale in 1885; Alexander Dey invented the dial recorder (1888);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 in 1889.
Thomas J. Watson, Sr., fired from the National Cash Register Company by John Henry Patterson, called on Flint and, in 1914, was offered CTR. Watson joined CTR as General Manager then, 11 months later, was made President when court cases relating to his time at NCR were resolved. Having learned Patterson's pioneering business practices, Watson proceeded to put the stamp of NCR onto CTR's companies. He implemented sales conventions, "generous sales incentives, a focus on customer service, an insistence on well-groomed, dark-suited salesmen and had an evangelical fervor for instilling company pride and loyalty in every worker". His favorite slogan, "THINK", became a mantra for each company's employees. 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. "Watson had never liked the clumsy hyphenated title of the CTR" and chose to replace it with the more expansive title "International Business Machines". First as a name for a 1917 Canadian subsidiary, then as a line in advertisements. For example, the McClures magazine, v53, May 1921, has a full page ad with, at the bottom:
International Time Recording Company of New York
Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, New York
International Business Machines
In 1952, Thomas Watson, Sr., stepped down after almost 40 years at the company helm; his son, Thomas Watson, Jr., was named president. In 1956, the company demonstrated the first practical example of artificial intelligence when Arthur L. Samuel of IBM's Poughkeepsie, New York, laboratory programmed an IBM 704 not merely to play checkers but "learn" from its own experience. In 1957, the FORTRAN (FORmula TRANslation) scientific programming language was developed. In 1961, Thomas J. Watson, Jr., was elected chairman of the board and Albert L. Williams became company president. The same year IBM developed the SABRE (Semi-Automatic Business-Related Environment) reservation system for American Airlines and introduced the highly successful Selectric typewriter.
In 1963, IBM employees and computers helped NASA track the orbital flight of the Mercury astronauts. A year later it moved its corporate headquarters from New York City to Armonk, New York. The latter half of the 1960s saw IBM continue its support of space exploration, participating in the 1965 Gemini flights, 1966 Saturn flights and 1969 lunar mission.
On April 7, 1964, IBM announced the first computer system family, the revolutionary IBM System/360. Sold between 1964 and 1978, it spanned the complete range of commercial and scientific applications from large to small, allowing companies for the first time to upgrade to models with greater computing capability without having to rewrite their application.
In the late 1970s, IBM underwent a wave of internal convulsions between a management faction wanting to concentrate on its bread-and-butter mainframe business and one desiring to expand into the emerging personal computer industry.
IBM and the World Bank first introduced financial swaps to the public in 1981 when they entered into a swap agreement. The IBM PC, originally designated IBM 5150, was introduced in 1981, and it soon became an industry standard. In 1991, IBM sold printer manufacturer Lexmark. In 1993, IBM posted a US$8 billion loss - at the time the biggest in American corporate history.
In 2002, IBM acquired PwC consulting. In 2003 it initiated a project to redefine company values. Using its Jam technology, it hosted a three-day Internet-based online discussion of key business issues with 50,000 employees. Results were data mined with sophisticated text analysis software (eClassifier) for common themes. Three emerged, expressed as: "Dedication to every client's success", "Innovation that matters—for our company and for the world", and "Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships". Another three-day Jam took place in 2004, with 52,000 employees discussing ways to implement company values in practice.
IBM showing their various innovations at CeBIT 2010 in Hanover, Germany
IBM's closing value of $214 billion on September 29, 2011 surpassed Microsoft's $213.2 billion valuation. It was the first time since 1996 that IBM's closing price exceeded that of its software rival. On August 16, 2012, IBM announced that it had entered an agreement to buy Texas Memory Systems. Later that month, IBM announced it has agreed to buy Kenexa.
On August 11, 2014, IBM announced it had acquired the business operations of Lighthouse Security Group, LLC, a premier cloud-security services provider. Financial terms were not disclosed.
In September 2014 it was announced that IBM would sell its x86 server division to Lenovo for a fee of $2.1 billion. That same year, Reuters referred to IBM as "largely a computer services supplier".
In November 2014, IBM and Twitter announced a global landmark partnership which they claim will change how institutions and businesses understand their customers, markets and trends. With Twitter's data on people and IBM's cloud-based analytics and customer-engagement platforms they plan to help enterprises make better, more informed decisions. The partnership will give enterprises and institutions a way to make sense of Twitter's mountain of data using IBM's Watson supercomputer.
On April 3rd, 2015, IBM made the first molecule movie to tell a story. The movie is called "A Boy and His Atom".
In August 2015 IBM agreed to purchase Merge Healthcare for $1 billion, incorporating Merge's imaging management platform with its Watson data analytics tool.
On October 28, 2015, IBM announced its acquisition of digital assets from The Weather Company—a holding company of Bain Capital, The Blackstone Group and NBCUniversal which owns The Weather Channel, including its weather data platforms (such as Weather Services International), websites (Weather.com and Weather Underground) and mobile apps. The acquisition seeks to use Watson for weather analytics and predictions. The acquisition does not include The Weather Channel itself, which will enter into a long-term licensing agreement with IBM for use of its data. The sale closed on January 29, 2016 
On January 21, 2016, IBM acquired Ustream, a video conferencing service, to form a new cloud video unit. 
On February 3, 2016, IBM announced that it agrees to buy Ecx.io, a Germany-based digital agency.
In 2012, Fortune ranked IBM the second largest U.S. firm in terms of number of employees, the fourth largest in terms of market capitalization, the ninth most profitable, and the nineteenth largest firm in terms of revenue. Globally, the company was ranked the №31 largest firm in terms of revenue by Forbes for 2011. Other rankings for 2011/2012 include the following:
IBM is headquartered in Armonk, New York. The 283,000-square-foot (26,300 m2) glass and stone building sits on a 25-acre (10 ha) parcel amid a 432-acre former apple orchard the company purchased in the mid-1950s.
On January 21, 2014 IBM announced that company executives would forgo bonuses for fiscal year 2013. The move came as the firm reported a 5% drop in sales and 1% decline in net profit over 2012. It also committed to a $1.2bn plus expansion of its data center and cloud-storage business, including the development of 15 new data centers. After ten successive quarters of flat or sliding sales under Chief Executive Virginia Rometty IBM is being forced to look at new approaches. Said Rometty, “We’ve got to reinvent ourselves like we’ve done in prior generations.”
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. IBM sports teams still continue in the present day; the IBM Big Blue continue to exist as semi-professional company rugby and American football teams. 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 began 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. During IBM's management transformation in the 1990s revisions were made to these pension plans to reduce IBM's pension liabilities.
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.
In 1945, The Watson Scientific Computing Laboratory was founded at Columbia University in New York City. The renovated fraternity house on Manhattan's West Side was used as IBM's first laboratory devoted to pure science. It was the forerunner of IBM Research, the largest industrial research organization in the world, with twelve labs on six continents.
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.
In 2013, Booz and Company (now known as Strategy&, a subsidiary of PricewaterhouseCoopers) placed IBM sixteenth among the 20 most innovative companies in the world. The company spends 6% of its revenue ($6.3 billion) in research and development.
IBM and the University of Michigan announced they are developing a computer that can respond to conversation in the same way humans speak to each other. Project Sapphire is a $4.5 million undertaking that will first see computers act as an academic adviser for undergraduate computer science and engineering students at the university.
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.
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.
In January 2014, IBM announced plans to invest more than $1.2bn (£735m) into its data centers and cloud storage business. It plans to build 15 new centers around the world, bringing the total number up to 40 during 2014.
In July 2014, the company revealed it was investing $3 billion over the following five years to create computer functionality to resemble how the human brain thinks. A spokesman said that basic computer architecture had not altered since the 1940s. IBM says its goal is to design a neural chip that mimics the human brain, with 10 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses, but that uses just 1 kilowatt of power.
In March 2015, the company announced plans to invest $3 billion over four years to establish an Internet of Things (IoT) unit, whose first task is to build a cloud-based open platform.
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. Traces 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. Remediation and testing are ongoing, however 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.
The company used the "globe" logo until 1947, when it began using an acronym-based logo.
IBM's current "8-bar" logo was designed in 1972 by graphic designerPaul 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 reflect the inability of period photocopiers to render large areas well, hence discrete horizontal bars.
Big Blue is a nickname for IBM derived in the 1960s from the company's blue logo and color scheme, originally adopted in 1947. True Blue referred to a loyal IBM customer, and business writers later picked up the term. IBM once had a de facto dress code that saw many IBM employees wear white shirts with blue suits.