More than 30 years ago, IBM researchers and engineers began working on computer-based tools that could prove productive in advanced industrial assembly and testing applications. One such set of tools encompassed smart, flexible robotic systems that could perform complex, varied and repetitive chores quickly and accurately. By 1983, IBM already had demonstrated publicly and announced two robots: the low-cost IBM 7535, adapted from a Japanese-made device, and the advanced RS 1, which was born at the company's Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. What follows is a brief look back at those two pioneering systems, along with some of the other robotic products that IBM launched during the 1980s. But first, a chronology of selected IBM robotics developments:
Work begins on robotic devices at the Mohansic, N.Y., laboratory of the IBM Advanced Systems Development Division.
A robot technology group is formed at the Watson Research Center.
IBM researchers build their first robot and develop software for it.
The Advanced Manufacturing Systems organization is formed in IBM System Products Division in Boca Raton, Fla.
Two-arm robots test backplane wiring on IBM 3033 computers at the Poughkeepsie, N.Y., plant.
Test marketing of the IBM RS 1 begins.
February 25, 1982
IBM announces the IBM 7535 Manufacturing System and expanded test marketing of the RS 1.
The RS 1 assembles IBM Displaywriter components at the ROBOTS VI trade show in Detroit.
December 3, 1982
IBM forms the IBM Robotic Assembly Institute in Boca Raton to provide customers with robotics education.
January 25, 1983
IBM announces the IBM 7565 ("RS 2") Manufacturing System. The 7565 is used on IBM's Displaywriter assembly line in Austin, Texas.
April 6, 1983
IBM announces the IBM 7540 Manufacturing System.
November 16, 1983
IBM forms the Industrial Systems organization, combining the activities of three related groups: the Industrial Automation independent business unit (IBU), which develops robotic systems; Graphics Systems Programs IBU, which develops and supports CAD/CAM products; and the Systems Products Division industrial application systems area, which develops and supports products for the plant floor.
February 1, 1984
IBM announces the IBM 7545 Manufacturing System.
April 7, 1986
IBM announces the IBM 7575 and 7576 Manufacturing Systems.