No one knows the definitive answer, however there are some theories:
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” was a term used to describe a loyal IBM customer, and business writers later picked up the term.
Another theory suggests that Big Blue simply refers to the Company’s logo.
A forth 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.
Whatever the reason is it’s amazing to be an IBM’er!
In the early years, IBM concentrated on solving the census problem. After merging with Herman Hollerith, inventor and patent holder of three census machines, IBM was well on its way to becoming a force in the business industry. Their next endeavor was to hire creative engineers who could think beyond the present technology.
Some of the technology developed were several accounting machines and the IBM Card, which was used for the US Census and commanded twice the information compared to previous methods for calculating the census. Internal competition led to increased morale and faster rates of production. In the 1940s, the government-funded ENIAC was a setback for the powerful IBM. However, in 1946 and 1947, IBM decided to came out with the industry’s first products employing electronic digital computation; the IBM 603 Electronic Multiplier and the IBM 604 Electronic Calculating Punch provided speed and flexibility of operation unmatched by any calculator in the marketplace.
IBM’s belief was that innovation, creativity, and hard work would lead to positive turnover. This motto definitely worked to IBM’s advantage. Between 1914 and 1993, the worldwide gross revenue of IBM increased 15,000-fold from about $4 million per year to about $63 billion per year.
Over that same time period, IBM introduced many new technologies including:
IBM 407 Accounting Machine in 1949,
the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) in 1956,
and the IBM Personal Computer in August of 1981.
The personal computer is arguably the most important piece of technology to come out of the late 1970s and early 1980s. However, partly because IBM had such a stronghold over the market, these machines cost the public up to $6500 for the CPU, monitor, and keyboard.
The lack of competition led to IBM’s complete control over prices as well as direction of technology. IBM’s powers made it that much more difficult for startup companies and even established companies in the computer industry to succeed during the 70’s and 80s.
Today’s market demands change and innovation, straight from the growth strategy!
Growth & business model innovation strategies: Continuously innovate to transform your business model, including where and how you compete, in order to spur growth, provide differentiation and increase competitiveness.
What will happen in the next 100+ years YOU DECIDE!