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Legacy of The IBM 701 Electronic Data Processing Machine

This chapter in the “History of Modern Computers” finally brings us to a famous name most of you will have heard of. IBM stands for International Business Machines, the largest computer company in the world today. IBM has been responsible for numerous inventions having to do with computers.

IBM Background: The company incorporated in 1911, starting as a major producer of punch card tabulating machines. During the 1930s, IBM built a series of calculators (the 600s) based on their punch-card processing equipment. In 1944, IBM co-funded the Mark 1 computer together with Harvard University, the Mark 1 was the first machine to compute long calculations automatically.

The IBM 701 – General Purpose Computer: The year 1953 saw the development of IBM’s 701 EDPM, which, according to IBM, was the first commercially successful general-purpose computer. The 701’s invention was due in part to the Korean War effort. Inventor, Thomas Johnson Watson Junior wanted to contribute what he called a “defense calculator” to aid in the United Nations’ policing of Korea. One obstacle he had to overcome was in convincing his father, Thomas Johnson Watson Senior (IBM’s CEO) that the new computer would not harm IBM’s profitable punch card processing business. The 701s were incompatible with IBM’s punched card processing equipment, a big moneymaker for IBM… read more >

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