100 years of IBM: By the numbers

The tech giant just celebrated its centennial. Will Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft ever know such longevity?

The 1987 IBM Personal System 2 model computer: IBM celebrated its centennial last week.
(Image credit: Bettmann/CORBIS)

Last Thursday, IBM celebrated its 100th birthday, a rare landmark in the world of big business. "It's the predominant pattern that companies eventually self-destruct," says management expert Jim Collins, as quoted by USA Today, so IBM's centennial places it in "a special and rarefied group." Here, a brief guide to IBM's success, by the numbers:


Number of employees the company had at its inception in 1911, when Bundy, the Tabulating Machine Co., the Computing Scale Company, and the International Time Recording Co. merged

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Approximate number of people currently employed by IBM


Annual profit in 1911

$14.8 billion

Annual profit in 2010

More than 50

Length, in feet, of IBM's 603 Electronic Multiplier, the first commercially available electronic calculator, when it was released in 1946

$9,000 to $20,000

Price of the IBM 5100 Portable Computer when it hit the market in 1975


Weight, in pounds, of the IBM 5100


Price of the IBM Personal Computer in 1981, the smallest and cheapest PC at the time

More than 20 million

Number of ThinkPad laptops IBM had sold by 2005, when it sold its PC business to Lenovo, deciding to focus less on hardware and more on software and services

200 million

Number of chess moves that Deep Blue, an IBM supercomputer, was able to calculate in one second. In 1997, the computer defeated chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov.


Number of IBM Power 750 servers comprising IBM's artificial intelligence genius, Watson. Earlier this year, Watson defeated two Jeopardy! champions in a two-game match.


Record-breaking number of patents IBM inventors received in 2010, the most of any company in the world

$201 billion

Current value of IBM, the fifth-most-valuable U.S. company, putting it on par with Microsoft ($207 billion), well ahead of Google ($156 billion), and well behind Apple ($290 billion)


Age of Apple, in years. Apple is the world's second most valuable company, and the most valuable tech company. Compared to 100-year-old IBM, "companies such as Apple and Microsoft are barely middle aged… while Google and eBay are just children at this point," says Peter Suciu at PCWorld. "And do you really think in 100 years people will be doing Facebook updates from their vacation to the Moon? Maybe, maybe not."

Sources: CNN, Google Finance (2), IBM.com, Mac Observer, PCWorld (2), USA Today

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