IBM is proudly celebrating its 100th year of existence, and with good reason. Set aside any factional differences or carping about the warts that any organization has over its lifetime, and take into account the bigger picture. In that larger perspective, all of us owe IBM a debt of gratitude, not only for what it has done for us individually, but for what it is likely to do for us even if we do not regard ourselves as IBM customers.
As IT professionals, we have a belief that technology in general--and information technology in particular--has possessed, and will continue to possess, overwhelmingly a positive, transformational value for civilization, society and individuals that is reflected in our success, wealth and daily lives. Now this is not an unmitigated good, but no carping--the pluses far outweigh the negatives.
And IBM is the company that comes to mind as the only high technology company that we can say has been center stage for most of the 20th and all of the 21st century. Now, "Ma Bell" might have had a case with an even longer run, but the telecommunications industry no longer has a bellwether company.
No other IT company has stood the test of time, although HP has had a notable run. Even during the last 50 years, companies that were once household names, such as Digital Equipment Corp. (minicomputers), Sun (Unix) and Compaq (personal computers), have now been consigned to the history books. Many other IT companies have contributed in the past, are contributing now and will continue to contribute in the future. Yet IBM’s place in the history of IT has been ensured with what it has done, and that situation is likely to continue in the future.