IBM Fellows Gerd K. Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer of the IBM Zurich Research Laboratory win the 1986 Nobel Prize in physics for their work in scanning tunneling microscopy. Drs. Binnig and Rohrer are recognized for developing a powerful microscopy technique which permits scientists to make images of surfaces so detailed that individual atoms may be seen.
IBM researchers also demonstrate an experimental system built around a modified IBM Personal Computer AT that can transcribe human speech into letters, reports and other office documents.
John R. Opel, IBM chairman of the board, relinquishes that post and retires on June 1. John F. Akers is elected to succeed Opel as chairman, and continues to serve as president and CEO.
IBM announces plans to sell its South African subsidiary to a new company established for the benefit of IBM South Africa employees. The newly independent company will fulfill IBM South Africa's contractual responsibilities. It will market products, parts and services from IBM and may represent other suppliers as well.
In all more than 12,000 people in U.S. and World Trade operations are being redeployed as part of an effort to restructure and substantially reduce staffs. An early retirement incentive is launched to help reduce the U.S. employee population by more than 12,000 in 1987, and similar incentives are announced in Canada, France, the Netherlands and United Kingdom.
IBM extends its leadership in disk technology, introducing IBM 9332 and 9335 direct access storage devices for midrange systems with the highest recording densities in the industry - more than 25 million bits of information per square inch. The IBM 3422 magnetic tape subsystem, a compact tape unit for data storage for users of IBM 43XX and System/38 customers, is announced.
With a new programming facility - Advanced Peer-to-Peer Networking - customers can attach midrange systems and Personal Computers to networks of System/36 computers and communicate without a controlling System/370-based computer.
The IBM 9370 Information System - a series of four midrange processors that provide the balanced commercial and engineering/scientific performance of mainframe computers but are compact and quiet enough to operate within office environments - is launched. One-million-bit chips are introduced in the 9370.
IBM introduces the IBM RT Personal Computer line of high-speed workstations intended for technical professionals. The RT is the first workstation to use the Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) architecture originated by IBM researchers. The IBM PC Convertible, IBM's smallest, full-function personal computer, is also announced in the United States. The unit weighs less than 13 pounds. The IBM Personal Computer XT Model 286, which can operate up to three times faster than earlier models of the PC XT in most applications, is introduced.
Among the other new products entering the marketplace in 1986 are: the IBM 4234 Dot Band Printer and IBM 4224 printer for use with IBM intermediate systems; the IBM 7552 Industrial Computer, IBM's first plant floor computer that monitors and controls manufacturing operations without operator assistance; the IR/44 Fourier Transform-Infra Red Spectrometer to be used by scientists for the analysis of chemical composition; and the IBM Personal Computer 2400 BPS Modem and IBM 5842 2400 BPS Modem that transmit data at up to 2,400 bits per second in full-duplex mode.
IBM introduces eight innovative packages designed to help customers who are installing new applications become productive more quickly. Known as SolutionPacs, the packaged sets include applications and services for specific system configurations. Five of the new SolutionPacs are geared to retail stores, colleges, financial institutions and manufacturing plants.
In other 1986 software announcements, IBM rolls out: Virtual Machine/Integrated System, combining the VM operating system capabilities with 28 prepackaged software products to provide an integrated base for business, office, database and engineering/scientific applications; and the IBM InfoCourse: Principle of the Alphabet Literacy System (PALS), an advanced computer-based system to address the problem of adolescent and adult illiteracy.
An IBM-developed exhibit is helping baseball fans visiting the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, to gain new perspectives on the 196 players, umpires and managers enshrined there.
Retired IBM Fellow Reynold B. Johnson receives the National Medal of Technology from U.S. President Ronald Reagan for his pioneering work in developing the IBM 350 RAMAC (Random Access Method of Accounting and Control) disk file, an advance that helped make possible on-line computing systems.
Benoit B. Mandelbrot, IBM mathematician and creator of fractal geometry, receives the 1986 Franklin Medal.
The 100,000th IBM System/36 is delivered in May to Continental Insurance in New York City.
IBM and Sears, Roebuck and Co. say they will become equal partners in Trintex following a decision by CBS to withdraw from the enterprise. Trintex was formed by the three companies in 1984 to develop and market a nationwide transaction and information network accessible through personal computers. Launched as Prodigy in 1988, the enterprise is a pioneering consumer online home banking and shopping service.
IBM and Carnegie Mellon University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, state that they will participate in a three-year joint study into the science of artificial intelligence. In addition, Andrew, a campus-wide network jointly developed by a team from IBM and Carnegie Mellon University, is inaugurated.
NYNEX Business Information Systems Co. acquires IBM's Product Centers in the United States.
The Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California, is dedicated as IBM's newest science and advanced technology research laboratory. One of the world's most advanced semiconductor manufacturing facilities is dedicated at East Fishkill, New York.
IBM Mexico announces that it will begin manufacturing Personal Computers at its El Salto, Jalisco, plant near Guadalajara. About 90 percent of the Personal Computers manufactured in Mexico will be exported to Latin America and other international markets.
IBM opens a National Support Center for Persons with Disabilities in Atlanta to provide information to agencies and institutions on how computers and attached devices can aid persons with disabilities to lead more productive lives.
During the year, IBM supports numerous programs that address community, social, and human needs, and contributes more than $189 million in cash, equipment and other resources to social, cultural and education programs worldwide. IBM's corporate contributions establish IBM as the largest corporate contributor worldwide.
Of the nearly 3,500 new employees hired in the United States in 1986, over 45 percent are women and 21 percent are minorities. About 6,000 women and 3,900 minority employees hold management positions at year-end, and of these, nearly 600 women and more than 500 minorities are in senior management positions. The company also purchases more than $100 million in products and services from some 750 minority-owned firms, over $60 million from more than 725 firms owned primarily by women, and over $15 million from more than 650 companies employing primarily handicapped workers.