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Happy Birthday, Big Blue

When you get some cash from an ATM today, start humming “Happy Birthday.” When you take the cash over to the grocery store and watch your selections get scanned by the cashier, keep the song going. When you power up your PC and check out last night’s lunar eclipse on YouTube….well, you get the idea. IBM is 100 years old today. It’s hard to believe Big Blue has been around for a century. After all, the huge mainframe computers IBM pioneered did not begin to proliferate until the 1950s and desktop PCs did not arrive until the 1980s. But even when IBM was founded on June 16, 1911, the new company had computing on its mind. IBM was born as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company in New York City. This mouthful was trimmed to International Business Machines in 1924. As the company quickly gained iconic status for its revolutionary products, the acronym IBM joined the lexicon. IBM (then CTR) really took off in 1914, when it poached a top exec from National Cash Register Co. Thomas J. Watson had overseen the creation of the first mechanical cash registers at NCR; he used this expertise to transform CTR into an innovative powerhouse. Revenues were doubled during the first few months of his tenure, he was named president of the company and the cash registers at IBM have been ringing ever since. IBM became the flagship of American business in the American Century. Its clean-cut executives in dark suits (with more than a few geeky pocket protectors) all toiled under Mr. Watson’s mantra, a simple slogan that was printed on a sign he hung over his desk: THINK. The complete list of innovations from IBM which transformed society is too long to publish here. From ATM machines and bar code scanners to the computers onboard the Space Shuttle, IBM has left its mark on just about every modern marvel we take for granted. Not surprisingly, the company holds more tech-related patents than any other entity on Earth. It’s easy to forget the decades of research that were undertaken to bring IBM’s computers from the labs to your desktop. It took IBM and Harvard University six years to create the Mark I, an early computer known as the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator. When it debuted in 1944, the Mark I was 50 feet long, weighed more than five tons and took a full 12 seconds to do a simple long-division problem. A few years later, IBM unveiled the much-faster IBM 701, the first large computer […]

Pants On Fire

  Rep. Anthony Weiner says he’s not going to resign. The New York congressman has been caught, literally, with his pants down by the online tabloid snoops who keep their eyes peeled for this kind of stuff. After several days of indignant denials, Weiner finally stepped up to the mike on Tuesday and admitted that he did in fact transmit several revealing photos from his Weiner collection to at least six young women he claims he never met. Weiner also claims this is a private matter, even though he posted his money shot on Twitter. The last time we checked, Twitter was designed to make a statement to the entire Internet planet at the same time. Stay tuned for the public hearings that will determine whether said Weiner photos were distributed using government property, a.k.a. the laptop in Anthony’s office on Capitol Hill. This has been a championship season for lying by public officials. Everybody wants to get into the act, even former public officials yearning to again feed at the public trough and celebrities pretending they want to hold public office. Down in North Carolina, we have former Sen. John Edwards indignantly denying he did anything illegal when he received $1 million in unreported campaign contributions from a 99-year-old heiress. Edwards used the money to keep his mistress and their baby in luxury digs while his wife was dying of cancer and he was busy trying to con the country into electing him president. Edwards claims this is a private matter, but has yet to explain why a successful malpractice lawyer worth an estimated $200 million needed to borrow money to keep his baby mama silent. Apparently, there was some money left over from the hush fund, since Edwards appeared in front of the federal courthouse sporting another one of those $400 haircuts he favors.  No word on whether Arnold Schwarzenegger will appear as a character witness for Edwards. During his entire tenure as governor of California, Schwarzenegger secretly was supporting a love child sired with his housekeeper. Arnold recently revealed this unfortunate fact to his wife, Maria, who moved out of their mansion. The Governator reportedly has gone into hiding in Idaho. Over in Japan, the latest version of the Japanese government quietly admitted this week that three of the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima power station did in fact experience a “full meltdown” in the days after the earthquake and tsunami struck. This statement was issued after weeks of denials in which officials maintained the reactor cores […]