Archive for July 2011
You’ve probably seen some of IBM’s communications and advertising this year, on TV, print and the Web, highlighting the fact that this is IBM’s Centennial year.
That means the company is 100 years old.
That’s a long time in real years, an eternity in Internet years.
But the celebrations continue, throughout 2011. This month, we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the IBM Selectric Typewriter, which you’ve probably seen most recently featured on the secretarys’ desks in the hit AMC show, “Mad Men.”
But I remember seeing Selectrics while growing up in north Texas, where my father owned a small insurance company, where many of his associates used the IBM Selectric as their everyday workhorse.
I marveled when I would watch that small, round steel ball with the letters superimposed on it move so quickly, turning itself at lightning speed to leave the imprint of one letter after another on the sheet of paper.
Of course, a few years later, when I was in college, it was the very same IBM Selectric model that I learned how to touch type on — typing class, one of the single most valuable college classes I ever took, I used to joke.
The Flying Golf Ball
The IBM Selectric was an instant sensation when it debuted on July 31, 1961, and it remained the typewriter found on most office desks until the brand was retired 25 years later, in 1986.
The Selectric had 2,800 parts, most designed from scratch, and was a major undertaking even for IBM, which had been in the typewriting business since the 1930s and already a market leader.
With its flying golf ball head, the Selectric marked a radical change from prior typewriter design, and took IBM seven years to work out the manufacturing and design challenges before it went on sale.
The Selectric was a game changer in several ways:
- Its unique “golf ball” head allowed typists’ fingers to fly across the keyboard at unprecedented speed. An expert typist could clock 90 words per minute versus 50 with a traditional electric typewriter.
- The golf ball moved across the page, making it the first typewriter to eliminate carriage return and reducing its footprint on office desks.
- Interchangeable golf balls equipped with different fonts, italics, scientific notations and other languages could easily be swapped in.
- With magnetic tape for storing characters added in 1964, the Selectric became the first (albeit analog) word-processor device.
From Selectric To System/360
The Selectric also formed the basis for early computer terminals and paved the way for keyboards to emerge as the primary way for people to interact with computers, as opposed to pressing buttons or levers.
A modified Selectric could be plugged into IBM’s System/360 computer, enabling engineers and researchers to interact with their computers in new ways.
“The Selectric typewriter, from its design to its functionality, was an innovation leader for its time and revolutionized the way people recorded information,” said Linda Sanford, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Transformation, IBM, who was a development engineer on the Selectric. “Nearly two decades before computers were introduced, the Selectric laid the foundation for word-processing applications that boosted efficiency and productivity, and it inspired many user-friendly features in computers that we take for granted today.”
The Selectric has been highlighted as one of IBM’s top 100 milestones in the company’s century-long history. You can learn more about it here.
You can also go here to learn more about the U.S. postage stamp being released featuring the IBM Selectric.
UPDATE: My colleague Delaney wrote his own remembrance of the Selectric. Be sure and watch the classic Selectric TV commercial he discovered on the YouTube!
Is it a coincidence that Apple releases Mac OS X Lion and the new MacBook Air models on the anniversary of the Eagle landing on the moon 42 years ago?
Perhaps…but if the timing were really well thought through, STS-135 Atlantis might have landed back on earth today as opposed to its scheduled landing tomorrow.
Pretty soon, we space nuts will have to look beyond the Space Shuttle for our orbital kicks.
In fact, I’m already looking beyond the Shuttle and into the Heavens, and to the increased focus on commercial space ventures.
Orbital Sciences Corporation announced today that the Dawn spacecraft, which the company built for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, successfully achieved orbit around the solar system’s move massive asteroid, Vesta, which resides in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and which is 1.7 billion-miles away.
It took Dawn four years to make it out to Vesta, and successfully entered its orbit last Friday. As its mission progresses over the next year, Dawn will descend to additional science orbits at 425 miles and then 125 miles above the asteroid’s surface, which is said to be the size of Arizona.
Godspeed to the Asteroid Mapper…it’s going to have to be the next best thing to a man (or woman) being there.
Back here on Earth, IBM shared some good news earlier today, awarding nearly $1 million in Smarter Planet grants to 11 organizations around the world.
Known as the IBM Centennial Grants, these are both monetary and in-kind awards up to U.S. $100,000 each which fund innovative projects in areas such as healthcare, energy, and food safety.
These grants fall under the auspices of IBM’s continued “Celebration of Service” as the company enters its second century of social engagement and of IBMers helping their communities work better.
By way of example, one award recipient, the Drishtee Foundation, i funding a Smart Rural Aggregation Platform which will help evolve Drishtee’s model villages into sustainable Smarter Villages in rural India.
The solution will help to aggregate critical services and products related with livelihood, agriculture and information services and making services accessible to farmers and village communities.
You can read more about IBM’s Celebration of Service here.
IBM’s earnings for second quarter 2011 just came across the wire.
Here’s the topline:
- Diluted EPS: GAAP: $3.00, up 15 percent; Operating (non-GAAP): $3.09, up 18 percent
- Revenue: $26.7 billion, up 12 percent, up 5 percent adjusting for currency
- Net income: GAAP: $3.7 billion, up 8 percent; Operating (non-GAAP): $3.8 billion, up 11 percent
- Pre-tax income: GAAP: $4.9 billion, up 7 percent; Operating (non-GAAP): $5.0 billion, up 10 percent
- Gross profit margin: GAAP: 46.4 percent, up 0.9 points
- Operating (non-GAAP): 46.8 percent, up 1.2 points
- Software revenue up 17 percent, 10 percent adjusting for currency
- Systems and Technology revenue up 17 percent, 12 percent adjusting for currency
- System z mainframe revenue up 61 percent; MIPS up 86 percent; Power Systems up 12 percent
- Services revenue up 10 percent, 2 percent adjusting for currency
- Services backlog of $144 billion, up $15 billion
- Growth markets revenue up 23 percent, 13 percent adjusting for currency
- Business analytics revenue up more than 20 percent in the first half
- Smarter Planet revenue up more than 50 percent in the first half
- Cloud revenue on track to double in 2011
- Full-year 2011 Operating (non-GAAP) EPS expectations raised to at least $13.25 from at least $13.15.
“In the second quarter our long-term strategic investments in the company’s growth initiatives again helped drive strong revenue performance,” said Samuel J. Palmisano, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer. “Hardware, software and services revenue grew at double digits, and we achieved strong profit and free cash flow growth.
“As IBM begins its second century, we continue a process of transformation, positioning the company to lead in the future and deliver higher value to our clients and our shareholders. Given our strong start to 2011, we are raising our full-year operating earnings per share expectations to at least $13.25.”
What’s going on in the world?
The question this Friday is, what’s not??
We’re still anxiously awaiting whether the U.S. government is going to come an agreement and raise the debt ceiling.
“Carmageddon” is going to shut down the 405 freeway in Los Angeles for 53 hours this weekend.
News Corporation continues to announce a doozy a day, with today’s big one being the resignation of News Intl. Corp. executive Rebekah Brooks.
Casey Anthony is expected to be released from prison this weekend in Florida.
And the U.S. Women’s soccer team takes on Japan Sunday in Germany for this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup title.
Oh, and the British Open is this weekend.
My DVR hard drive is gonna be burning it up!
But today, the big news from IBM is how its technology is being used to help advance the research of human genetic disease.
IBM announced today that Coriell Institute for Medical Research, the largest biobank of living human cells, is using IBM technology to help the institute more efficiently maintain its massive collection of biological resources. As a vital player in modern biomedical research, Coriell manages cryogenic freezers that can house up to 48,000 samples and which may experience a mechanical failure while in use.
In the past, response teams had only been alerted in the event of a total failure of the unit requiring the staff to quickly move the biological samples to a standby unit.
Coriell can now better protect millions of genetic samples while also increasing its capacity to manage the volume of data generated by analyzing the genomes of large and diverse populations needed to examine the causes of critical diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
With the implementation of IBM monitoring software, Coriell researchers are now also instantly alerted in advance to quickly respond before any mechanical failure occurs and in turn, protect the integrity of the sample.
Big Science, Big Data
Scientists from major research centers around the world draw upon Coriell’s diverse collections of biomaterials, which contain cell lines, DNA, and other samples, representing more than half of approximately 4,000 known genetic diseases.
In addition, Coriell is exploring advancement in personalized medicine using one’s genetic information to tailor individual patient medical care while ensuring an individual’s privacy.
“The healthcare industry is placing greater emphasis on the use of genetic information in making medical decisions,” said Scott Megill, Coriell’s Chief Information Officer. “As a leader in genomics, Coriell is exploring the clinical utility of this personalized approach to medicine. The breadth of data output created by our research introduced new challenges to analyze and store this information,” Megill added. “IBM is enabling Coriell to more effectively gather and analyze this data for our research.”
Coriell needed to address the challenge of supporting data collections generated from more than two million ampules of cells, one million vials of DNA, and hundreds of thousands of other biomaterials.
In addition, the Coriell Personalized Medicine Collaborative Research Study – which captures an individual’s genetic differences to better understand causes for diseases – created an additional data challenge to the Institute. Each participant in the study is genotyped using an array-based technology producing more than two million points of data, equaling approximately 1.5 GB of information per person.
With a target goal of 100,000 participants for the study, Coriell faced a massive information storage demand that was simply too cost prohibitive using legacy storage platforms.
Coriell turned to IBM and IBM Business Partner Mainline to help drive the organization’s technology transformation to help manage the millions of biological samples and associated data. The use of IBM storage system at Coriell scales more cost effectively than traditional disk storage and, as a result of using IBM’s low-cost storage technology, Coriell has reduced its information storage costs by 30 percent.
Banking On Genetics
In order to meet the challenges of a biobanking center that supports national and international scientific research, Coriell also looked to IBM to provide a process tracking system to quickly and easily adapt to the nuances of such a diverse biological collection.
Layered with Coriell’s inventory management system, IBM software allows Coriell to electronically track each sample as it moves through various laboratory processes. These samples vary greatly in type, disease state, age, and other characteristics, and the ability to quickly pinpoint the location and specific processing stage of a particular sample provides a key advantage to Coriell.
“Globalization has created an enormous opportunity for small to midsize firms such as Coriell to collaborate with research centers around the world. As advanced technologies have become affordable and available, Coriell is able to keep costs down and increase efficiency while also driving innovation in the area of personalized medicine,” said Andy Monshaw, general manager of IBM’s Global Midmarket Business. “Aligning the right technology infrastructure to meet its Big Data challenges, Coriell is well positioned to promote tomorrow’s medicines and treatments to help usher in a new era of medicine.”
The complete Coriell solution is powered by IBM technology that includes IBM XIV Storage System, IBM Tivoli Maximo, IBM Tivoli Netcool and IBM WebSphere Lombardi Edition.