Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘ibm centennial

Happy Birthday IBM Selectric

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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.

The IBM Selectric Typewriter, introduced in 1961, was an instant hit and sold more than 13 million units before it was retired in 1986. It has most recently been featured in the hit TV show, "Mad Men."

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!

Written by turbotodd

July 27, 2011 at 3:08 pm

IBM 4Q 2010 Earnings Debrief

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IBM’s fourth quarter earnings for 2010 were just released over the wire.  Key headlines include record revenue of $29.0B in the quarter, up 7 percent as reported and adjusting for currency.

Diluted earnings per share were $4.18, up 16 percent.

Also, record net of $5.3B, up 9 percent.

Pre-tax income was $7B, up 9 percent, and software revenue was up 11 percent (excluding divested PLM operations).

Services revenues were up 2 percent, with a services backlog of $142B (up $5B year over year).

“We completed an outstanding year, with record profit and free cash flow, and exceeded the high end of our 2010 earnings per share roadmap objective,” said Samuel J. Palmisano, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer.

“We also capped a decade in which our shift to high-value businesses, our global integration of IBM, our investment in research and development of almost $60 billion and our acquisition of 116 companies have helped us to nearly triple our EPS and return more than $100 billion to shareholders.

“As IBM enters its second century, we will continue to focus on our long-term strategic initiatives — growth markets, Smarter Planet Solutions, cloud and business analytics — as we drive to achieve our new roadmap target of operating earnings per share of at least $20 in 2015.”

More details follow:

  • Record net income of $5.3 billion, up 9 percent;
  • Pre-tax income of $7 billion, up 9 percent;
  • Gross profit margin of 49 percent, up 0.8 points;
  • Software revenue excluding divested PLM operations up 11 percent, 12 percent adjusting for currency; 7 percent including PLM;
  • Systems and Technology revenue up 21 percent, 22 percent adjusting for currency;
  • System z mainframe revenue up 69 percent; MIPS up 58 percent;
  • Services revenue up 2 percent as reported and adjusting for currency;
  • Services backlog of $142 billion, up $5 billion year over year and up $8 billion quarter to quarter;
  • Growth markets revenue up 15 percent, 13 percent adjusting for currency;
  • Business analytics revenue up 19 percent;
  • Free cash flow of $8.7 billion, up $1.5 billion.

Full-Year 2010:

  • Diluted earnings per share of $11.52, up 15 percent and $0.52 ahead of high end of 2010 roadmap; 8th consecutive year of double-digit EPS growth;
  • Revenue of $99.9 billion, up 4 percent, up 3 percent adjusting for currency; up 5 percent, 4 percent adjusting for currency, excluding PLM operations;
  • Record net income of $14.8 billion, up 10 percent;
  • Record free cash flow of $16.3 billion, up $1.2 billion;

Written by turbotodd

January 18, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Posted in earnings

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