Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity of people.
Diversity of thought.
A smarter planet for everyone.


Technicians testing equipment, Poughkeepsie, 1956
Technicians testing equipment, Poughkeepsie. 1956.

Laboratory vacuum tubes
Vacuum tubes in IBM System 701 introduced. 1952.

Policy Letter No. 4
See 1980 Then & Now. 1953.

Helen Keller presents the Migel Medal to Thomas J. Watson Sr.
Migel Medal to Thomas J. Watson Sr. 1954.

The world's first magnetic hard disk for data storage: RAMAC.
RAMAC. 1956.

IBM ad featuring wild duck
IBM ad featuring wild duck. 1957.

Michael Supa receives Citation for Meritorious Service
Michael Supa receives Citation for Meritorious Service. 1958.

Pioneering Innovation in the Workplace

IBM continues to lead in the advancement of women and the integration of the workplace ahead of legislative action or public opinion.


IBM actively recruits Black employees at Howard University, Tennessee State University and West Virginia State College. By 1965, the number of Black colleges and universities in the IBM Recruitment Program grows to 30.

IBM opens its first West Coast lab in San Jose, California, the area that decades later will come to be known as "Silicon Valley." Within four years, the lab makes its mark by inventing the first magnetic disk storage unit.


IBM President Thomas J. Watson Jr. issues Policy Letter No. 4, which states that IBM will hire people based on their ability, regardless of race, color or creed, one year before the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. the Board of Education and 11 years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This letter is the first U.S. corporate mandate on equal employment opportunity. Watson will use this letter as a foundation of company policy in later negotiations with the governors of Kentucky and North Carolina to build plants in their states.


Helen Keller presents the Migel Medal, the American Foundation for the Blind's highest honor, to Thomas J. Watson Sr., for IBM's "dedication and achievement in significantly improving the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired."

IBM begins developing first automated Braille printer.


At the historic IBM conference in Williamsburg, Virginia, newly named IBM Chairman and CEO Thomas J. Watson Jr. reasserts to IBM senior management his commitment to assuring nothing less than a workplace free of racial and religious bias.

IBM opens the first fully integrated plant in the South, in Lexington, Kentucky, five years before desegregation of the city in 1961. Blacks and Whites work and eat together.

IBM announces its three-month Leave of Absence Policy 37 years before the enactment of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.

IBM provides a Major Medical Plan to employees.

IBM introduces the world's first magnetic hard disk for data storage. RAMAC (Random Access Method of Accounting and Control) offers unprecedented performance by permitting random access to any of the million characters distributed over both sides of 50 two - foot - diameter disks. Produced in San Jose, California, IBM's first hard disk stored approximately 2,000 bits of data per square inch and had a purchase price of about $10,000 per megabyte. By 2000, the cost of storing a megabyte drops to less than two cents.

IBM's Research Laboratory in Switzerland opens. Researchers in this laboratory will earn back - to - back Nobel Prizes in physics in 1986 and 1987-- first for the invention of the scanning tunneling microscope, then for the breakthrough discovery of high - temperature superconductivity.


IBM revolutionizes programming with the introduction of FORTRAN (Formula Translator). Created by a team led by scientist John Backus, it soon becomes the most widely used computer programming language for technical work. For the first time, engineers and scientists can write computer programs in more natural forms, such as C=A/B, rather than as strings of numerical "machine language."

The wild duck, which Thomas J. Watson Jr. hailed as a symbol of independent thinking, featured in IBM Japan newpaper ad, 1957.


IBM employee Michael Supa receives Citation for Meritorious Service from the President's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped.

IBM starts paying full-time employees on salary basis instead of an hourly wage.

The SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) computer is declared fully operational. Built under contract to MIT's Lincoln Laboratories for the North American Air Defense System, SAGE was the first system to operate in real time.


IBM offers employees Tuition Refund Program.