Thomas J. Watson, Sr.: Patriarch of Big Blue
In 1948, IBM unveiled its first computer, the Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator, after spending millions to build the behemoth machine. It occupied 2,000 square feet, the size of an average house, had 12,500 vacuum tubes, 21,400 relays, and was capable of slightly more than 10,000 multiplications a second. It isn't very impressive today. IBM's new Blue Gene supercomputer is capable of performing 360 trillion operations a second, and many of today's small, inexpensive hand-held devices have computing speeds and capacity that dwarf IBM's 1948 monster. One wonders whether Thomas J. Watson Sr., the visionary who transformed the small Computing-Tabulating-Recording Co. into IBM, a company with sales now approaching $100 billion and a work force of 350,000, could have foreseen the computer revolution he helped create.