IBM Research

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IBM Research is IBM's research and development division. It is the largest industrial research organization in the world, with twelve labs on six continents.[1]

The roots of today's IBM Research began with the 1945 opening of the Watson Scientific Computing Laboratory at Columbia University.[2] This was the first IBM laboratory devoted to pure science and later expanded into additional IBM Research locations in Westchester County, New York starting in the 1950s,[3][4] including the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in 1961.[3][4]

IBM employees have garnered five Nobel Prizes, six Turing Awards, ten National Medals of Technology, and five National Medals of Science.[5]

As of 2013 the company held the record for most patents generated by a business for 22 consecutive years.[6]


Notable company inventions include the automated teller machine (ATM), the floppy disk, the hard disk drive, the magnetic stripe card, the relational database, the Universal Product Code (UPC), the financial swap, the Fortran programming language, SABRE airline reservation system, DRAM, copper wiring in semiconductors, the silicon-on-insulator (SOI) semiconductor manufacturing process, Watson artificial intelligence.[7]

Advances in nanotechnology include IBM in atoms, where a scanning tunneling microscope was used to arrange 35 individual xenon atoms on a substrate of chilled crystal of nickel to spell out the three letter company acronym. It was the first time atoms had been precisely positioned on a flat surface.[8]


Major undertakings at IBM Research have included the invention of innovative materials and structures, high-performance microprocessors and computers, analytical methods and tools, algorithms, software architectures, methods for managing, searching and deriving meaning from data and in turning IBM's advanced services methodologies into reusable assets.

IBM Research's numerous contributions to physical and computer sciences include the Scanning Tunneling Microscope and high temperature superconductivity, both of which were awarded the Nobel Prize. IBM Research was behind the inventions of the SABRE travel reservation system, the technology of laser eye surgery, magnetic storage, the relational database, UPC barcodes and Watson, the question-answering computing system that won a match against human champions on the Jeopardy! television quiz show. The Watson technology is now being commercialized as part of a project with healthcare company WellPoint.

IBM Research is home to 5 Nobel Laureates, 9 US National Medals of Technology, 5 US National Medals of Science, 6 Turing Awards, and 13 Inductees in the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Other notable developments[edit]



Historic research centers[edit]



  1. ^
  2. ^ "IBM Watson Laboratory at Columbia University". Retrieved 2010-05-05. 
  3. ^ a b Beatty, Jack, (editor) Colussus: how the corporation changed America, New York : Random House, 2001. ISBN 978-0-7679-0352-3. Cf. chapter "Making the 'R' Yield 'D': The IBM Labs" by Robert Buderi.
  4. ^ a b IBM, "Watson Research Center: Watson Facility History"
  5. ^ "Awards & Achievements". IBM. Retrieved 2012-05-23. 
  6. ^ "IBM Tops Patent List for 22nd Year as It Looks for Growth". Bloomberg. 2015-01-12. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Browne, Malcolm W. (April 5, 1990). "2 Researchers Spell 'I.B.M.,' Atom by Atom". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2009-08-03. 

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