The Associated Press

Key dates in the history of IBM:

â¿¿1911: The company that would later become IBM is formed as the Computing Tabulating Recording Co.

â¿¿1914: Thomas Watson Sr., a former executive at National Cash Register Co., joins the company. Watson becomes the company's guiding force over the next four decades.

â¿¿1924: Company renamed International Business Machines.

â¿¿1936: Helps administer the new Social Security program with its punch card system.

â¿¿1944: The Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (ASCC), the first machine able to execute long computation automatically, is presented to Harvard. Eight feet high and 50 feet long, the electromechanical switches of "Mark I" could perform a multiplication problem in six seconds and division in about twice that time.

â¿¿1952: Watson's son, Thomas Watson Jr., becomes president of the company. The elder Watson remains CEO until May 1956, a month before his death.

â¿¿1953: Unveils the IBM 701, an early large computer based on vacuum tubes. The vacuum tubes were faster than electromechanical switches, but could become very hot and were eventually replaced by transistors.

â¿¿1956: Creates first magnetic hard disk for data storage, Random Access Method of Accounting and Control, or RAMAC. The system's "random access arm" retrieved data stored on 50 disks.

â¿¿1957: Creates the computer language FORTRAN. Designed to translate formulas into code (the name is short for FORmula TRANslation), it became a widely used program for technical computing.

â¿¿1961: Introduces the Selectric Typewriter, in which characters that strike the paper are arranged on a single metal ball rather than a row of individual keys. That kept the keys from jamming. The Selectric is remembered for its unique design.

â¿¿1964: Debuts System/360, a family of computers of different sizes. Because they were compatible with one another, growing businesses could upgrade more easily. IBM spent $5 billion on the project.

â¿¿1971: Creates the floppy disk, a way to store data that would become a feature of early PCs.

â¿¿1973: Supermarkets begin scanning UPC bar codes, invented by IBM

â¿¿1981. Introduces the IBM personal computer with a chip made by Intel and a Disk Operating System (DOS) made by a tiny company called Microsoft.

â¿¿1993: Louis Gerstner becomes the top executive with IBM on the brink of collapse given the rise of cheap microprocessors and rapid changes in the industry. He is the first outsider to head the company and engineered its transformation into software and services.

â¿¿1997: IBM's Deep Blue computer becomes the first to defeat a world chess champion, winning a six-game match against Garry Kasparov.

â¿¿2011: IBM's Watson system defeats two of Jeopardy's greatest champions.

Source: IBM

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