Chronological History of IBM

1940s

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WWII
When World War II began, all IBM facilities were placed at the disposal of the U.S. government. IBM's product line expanded to include bombsights, rifles and engine parts - in all, more than three dozen major ordnance items. Thomas Watson, Sr., set a nominal one percent profit on those products and used the money to establish a fund for widows and orphans of IBM war casualties.


Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator
The war years also marked IBM's first steps toward computing. The Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, also called the Mark I, was completed in 1944 after six years of development with Harvard University. It was the first machine that could execute long computations automatically.

Over 50 feet long, eight feet high and weighing almost five tons, the Mark I took less than a second to solve an addition problem but about six seconds for multiplication and twice as long for division - far slower than any pocket calculator today. Later in the decade, IBM introduced the Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator (1948) as the company's first large-scale digital calculating machine, the successful 604 Electronic Calculating Punch (1948) - 5,600 of which were built in a 10-year period - and the Card-Programmed Electronic Calculator (1949), the first IBM product designed specifically for computation centers.

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