A recent issue of Forbes ranks the most innovative companies in the world, but overlooks IBM. In this opinion piece, eWEEK’s Darryl K. Taft argues that Big Blue belongs atop that list.
IBM is the most innovative company in IT, period.
Unfortunately, IBM’s Armonk location also could play into it being overlooked. As a longtime tech journalist, I’m aware of a West Coast bias in technology reporting. More specifically, companies in the San Francisco Bay area and Silicon Valley seem to get the love and adulation of the tech press, even with those in New York and other East Coast cities. Being old and based in a swank New York City suburb is just not cool, I guess.
Yet, IBM continues to make stuff that matters. Real stuff, not just cool gadgets that twinkle and make you look hip when you pull them out. Any time you use WiFi, or get money from an ATM, or swipe your credit card, or use a GPS system or play on a gaming console (practically all of the majors, including Sony PlayStations, Xbox and Nintendo), you have IBM to thank for it. IBM technology is everywhere. The company makes stuff that makes the world better for us all.
That’s part of the theme behind IBM’s Smarter Planet play. It’s not just a marketing slogan. With the world becoming more instrumented, interconnected and intelligent, there is a need for smarter systems to help achieve economic growth, near-term efficiency, sustainable development and societal progress. IBM is building these systems.
Bernard Meyerson, vice president of Innovation and IBM Fellow, invented the silicon germanium chip, also known as SiGe. SiGe chips emerged as a variation of the complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) transistors found in IBM’s chips for 20 years. However, the reliability, speed and low cost of SiGe enabled rapid growth in various wired and wireless networks, shrinking the size and power needs of WiFi, cellular phones, GPS systems, mobile TV and many other products, IBM said.
In another breakthrough, Edgar F. “Ted” Codd, an IBM researcher, invented the relational database. And IBMers followed with the invention of the Structured Query Language (SQL), the language for managing data in relational database management systems (RDBMS). Relational databases revolutionized the database landscape.
IBM invented the reduced instruction set computer (RISC) architecture. And IBM became the first company to deliver a 3.5-inch rewritable optical drive to the market.
By combining genetics and semiconductor technologies, IBM researchers invented a mechanism called the IBM DNA Transistor, which is designed to make it possible to sequence genetic material accurately and cheaply—eventually, they hope, for a few hundred dollars per person.
Practically from Day 1, IBM supported the NASA space flight missions, including the Apollo missions to put a man on the moon. Over the years, IBM supported NASA in all phases, including building guidance and tracking systems, and ground control systems to monitor the missions.
IBM created the first magnetic tape storage unit. And IBM invented DRAM. IBM also created magnetic stripe technology, which enables you to swipe your credit cards and pay for things.
IBM also invented CICS, the Customer Information Control System, which revolutionized transaction processing. And IBM invented FORTRAN, the high-level language that opened up programming to mathematicians and scientists.