Tom Watson Sr.

The world's greatest salesman[1]

Tom Watson Sr.

The world would be a different place if Tom Watson Sr. hadn't molded IBM into a perfect gem of a company, a pure diamond, multifaceted and with very few defects, a rocket ship that his son, Tom Watson Jr. was able to fly to the moon on his first try.

Under his leadership, IBM shaped the data-processing industry of the first part of the 20th century, with near perfect electromechanical machines, of the highest possible reliability.

Tom Watson Sr. also launched the computer era when he built the first computer ever, the ASCC, as a gift to Harvard University. It was based on the one hundred year old theoretical architecture of Babbage's Analytical Engine and was installed at Harvard in 1944.[2]

He also built the first computer to implement the "stored program" concept, where programs are initially loaded in memory for a fastest possible run. The machine was named SSEC and finished in 1948 and, even though it was not a true Moore School machine, to this day, IBM still holds the "stored program" patent.[3],[4]

IBM during the Watsons

The following chart shows the growth of IBM under Tom Watson Sr.

Automatic Data Processing

IBM under Sr.

The following chart shows the growth of IBM under both Tom Watson Sr. and his son. It shows an outstanding progression in profits from none to a billion dollars. It also shows the two "one of a kind" electromechanical computers developed by Senior and all of the "Moore School" mass produced computers developed by Junior. Junior's growth in revenues and profits make senior's look like a flat line. Bravo Tom Watson Junior!

The Watson's Legacy

IBM under Sr. and Jr.

Automatic data processing

Still building

The history of the developement of the computer is intertwined with machine that processed data automatically.....

[1]    Peter E. Greulich, The World's Greatest Salesman, page 6 (2011)
[2]    M. Wilkes, Automatic Digital Computers, page 20 (1956)
[3]    Emerson W. Pugh, Building IBM, Shaping an Industry and Its Technology page 136 (1995). See for a more detailed explanation the notes 17-19 on page 354. Also Computer history at Columbia University: The IBM SSEC.
[4]    U.S. Patent 2,636,672, filed 19 January 1949: F. E. Hamilton, R. R. Seeber, Jr., R. A. Rowley, and E. S. Hughes, Jr., Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator.

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Drawing of Tom Watson Sr. by Jessica Falconieri © 2015