Happy Birthday, IBM!

Today is IBM’s 100th birthday.

Yeah, I didn’t know companies had birthdays either.  Normally “06880” would not announce — let alone celebrate — something like this.  But IBM is special.

In its heyday in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s — when it was to the world of technology what Apple and Google are now —  IBM had an outsized impact on Westport.

The initials stood for “I’ve Been Moved,” the joke went.  And IBM men (for they were all male) arrived in town, year after year after year.  Some moved on, after relatively brief stints.  Others managed to make this their last move, and stayed.

A disproportionate number, it seems, got involved in Westport affairs.  IBM men ran for local office.  They coached sports teams.  They served on boards.  They were involved in the lives of their sons and daughters, and supported their wives’ volunteer efforts.

IBM men understood they were expected to give their talents to their community as well as their company.  They did so in many ways here, for many years.

IBM’s profile in Westport is lower today than it was back then.  But IBM men — and now, women — continue to be a vibrant part of town life.

Congratulations, IBM.  Thanks for all you’ve done, for all of us.  Here’s wishing you 100 more years, all over the globe.

And keep sending your best and your brightest to Westport.

12 responses to “Happy Birthday, IBM!

  1. The Dude Abides

    Thanks for the article. Indeed, IBM “men” were known to wear the same style-color suit with white shirt and bland tie. Every day! Every one! They were the predecessor to the Stepford Wife. I was unaware of their community dedication, however. Interesting bio on the founder, Tom Watson. Seemingly a gentleman in the jungle of corporate tigers.

  2. Wally Woods

    I was one of them….”moved” from California to CT, then to all sorts of places in Asia for several years. But I was slightly subversive……..my neckware was in bold colors, and sometimes even a bowtie would find its way into my “uniform” three button suit.
    But it is true that many IBMers were (and still are) deeply involved in Westport’s dynamic civil and philanthropic organizations. I was at one time President of the Board at the Historical Society and even a member of Weston’s Art Council when we lived there for a few years. Weston’s First Selectman, Woody Bliss, was also an IBMer.
    IBM was and still is a terrific company to be a part of.

    Wally Woods

  3. Fortunately for for Westport, Ellie and Dick Lowenstein were IBMers who stayed

    • I’ll second that . Knew Dick was an IBMer; didn’t know about Ellie. Both have contributed a lot to Westport and continue to do so.

      I’d like to add two other retired IBMers : the late Kathy Kincaid and her sister Susie Kincaid Shuck. Kathy and Susie have an almost 30 year history of important work with a number of Westport community organizations.

      Since Kathy passed away last October, Susie continues to soldier on alone.

  4. Lisa & Mark

    And they support Staples Soccer!

  5. Adrian Bowles

    I was an IBMer from 1978-80, and they’re a client of mine now, so I may be a little biased, but I think you’re selling them short if you think their heyday was over decades ago. Apple and Google get the glory at the moment, but if you look at IBM’s accomplishments in recent years – from Deep Blue (chess champion), to Blue Gene (supercomputer), to Watson (deep QA, Jeopardy champion)- and consider that IBM chips power the XBox, Playstation AND Wii, they’re far from passe.

    I had the good fortune to attend Sam Palmisano’s celebratory event at the TJ Watson research center in Yorktown today. You can see a couple of my pics and dozens of others from celebrations around the world here: http://bit.ly/lmHvNg

    • Good point, Adrian. I was not trying to downplay IBM’s current accomplishments; I was referring more to the buzz about the companies, and how they’re perceived in the public eye.

      Great photos, BTW — it looks like a very memorable day!

  6. maxine bleiweis

    we’ll be celebrating IBMs accomplishments and vision with a panel and reception at the library on September 12. If any former or current IBMers want to make sure to get the notice, email me at mbleiweis@westportlibrary.org

  7. Adrian Bowles

    Thanks, Dan – you’re right about the buzz, especially since IBM got out of the laptop/PC business. The funny thing is that they are in more homes than ever with gaming systems, but very few people know what’s inside.

    It was memorable – IBM had celebrations at sites all over the world yesterday, but it was a privilege to be there for the “main tent” event and to have a quiet lunch with Dave Ferrucci, the newest IBM Fellow (who is getting rock star treatment for leading the Watson computing team). The best part of my job as an industry analyst is working with bright people from lots of cool companies. And IBM is the coolest 100 year old I know.

  8. The US government spent almost six decades trying to dismantle IBM. The more successful the company became, the harder the government tried. Fortunately, IBM survived. Congratulations!

  9. Wendy Crowther

    Here’s another local IBM connection. IBM’s famous logo was created by well-known graphic designer Paul Rand, a Weston resident. A few of his other corporate graphic designs included UPS and ABC. Though he passed away about 15 years ago, I believe his wife, Marion, may still live in Weston in a house he designed.