In Praise of IBM

Lately there has been a lot of mud-slinging at IBM in the comments. I thought I should balance things out a bit. IBM celebrate 100 years of business with a “100 Icons” page. It’s a good read.

I actually touched IBM card-punches and readers in the old days. The first “real” computer I touched was an IBM 1620 which was descended from the CADET (Can’t Add; Doesn’t Even Try). No kidding. It did maths by table lookup… Used germanium transistors and needed air-conditioning. It had regular hardware-crashes on warm days. Used magnetic cores with parity every 4 bits of data. Neat thing was it was Binary Coded Decimal (BCD) so it could automatically do arbitrary length maths. If the strings could fit in RAM it could calculate.

That machine had been taken off-line and replaced by an IBM 360 but was still under IBM maintenance contract so we undergrads got to play with it. Punched cards, paper tape and a typewriter for a console. It had a hard drive which weighed a ton. You could swap your programme out to the drive and resume another time…

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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29 Responses to In Praise of IBM

  1. oiaohm says:

    oldman
    http://theyesmen.org/hijinks/acceptablerisk

    This is the shocking problem of companies. IBM being accused of killing Jews. From companies point of view this is better than being recorded as backstabbing a client.

    The reality of business.

  2. oiaohm says:

    oldman The did the dead arguement then there are most likely many ways I could charge you with because you did what the government of your country has told you todo.

    Reality IBM did many Deeds in World War II. Most did not help the Nazi’s. German machine advertisement and USA machine advertisement of the time is funny.

    USA IBM is pushing faster electronic systems. German side pushing slower gear based systems.

    Oldman so IBM caused the Germans to be a few generations behind on tech.

    The deed you are referring to does not show cooperation at all Oldman. Shows sabotage. IBM avoided rapid supply. Most likely caused the law to be delayed by 12 months. The fake infighting between IBM companies on how the hardware could be shipped by fake licensing requirements added another 8 months delay. With other things you can say IBM slowed the holocaust down by 24 months.

    This is the shocking reality without IBM sabotage we would not be talking about holocaust survival by anyone.

    oldman so what deed over the holocaust is important. The sabotage or the record keeping.

    There were other makers who could have provided the machine record keeping who were far more cooperative with Hitler.

    The book writer about IBM bad deeds never checked out who owned the tech used. So comes to the idea that there was some secret deal between IBM USA and germany to allow the hardware to be shipped all over the place.

    Not knowing that it was the company in Germany who held the absolute rights to the tech. There was no requirement at all to enter discussions with IBM USA to use it.

    The IBM bluffs and stalls worked. The about 1 million dollar investment to build factory in Germany is double factor. One it provides a location to keep some jews safe. 2 it provides delay before the census machines can start operational state. Due to the fact IBM USA did not send any USA built machines in then census only got under way once factory in Germany was complete.

    Oldman the history fact says IBM did the deed as slow as possible and in the way to safe guard as many lives as possible.

    Problem is slow as possible when the rest of world refuses to interfere was not slow enough.

    Slowing down the census machines most likely allowed lots of jews to escape as well.

    So what deed Oldman. The killing or the allowing escape or FUD to get germans to trust old tech or the lives they saved in the factories. Skilled workers were required to build computers so they had to be well feed.

    Yes its all part the same event.

    Oldman you want to know why. Because the answer is not what you are saying it is. World War II my relations fort on both sides. And most likely killed each other.

    That book never went into enough detail. It looks skin deep so it miss the fact other tech was there. It misses that the tech itself is German.

    IBM has really not ever blocked investigations. Not helped them. Mostly I cannot blame them on that. Lot of what IBM did then was not from business morals right. You are not meant to backstab you customer.

    This is the problem IBM has. The most likely true story has IBM backstabbing one of its customers. That from a business point of view is not morally right. The abnormalities suggest this.

    The false story has IBM killing many jews and being a trusted business partner.

    No matter what history is published IBM cannot win. So of course as IBM I would take the no comment path.

    oldman you are thinking I am saying IBM is not gulity.

    IBM is guilty of something the question is what. I personally thinking guilty of back stabign customer.

  3. oldman says:

    “Let’s humor the stupid winbreds. If you were IBM and the nazis came to you and said “do our bookkeeping,” what would you do and why?”

    There is nothing to humor fool. IBM did the deed – period.

  4. Adam King says:

    Let’s humor the stupid winbreds. If you were IBM and the nazis came to you and said “do our bookkeeping,” what would you do and why?

  5. oldman says:

    “oldman we are talking about a cross roads event here.”

    No we are talking about more bushwah from you hamster.
    I say it again – no amount of verbiage is going to make the deed go away.

    You are wasting your time defending the undefendable.

    The question is Why?

  6. oiaohm says:

    Yes that one about the german company getting special rights to ship the punch cards to ibm customers in germany is the biggest joke going. From 1910 that company had the rights todo that. Before 1933 had German company sent supplies to other EU countries using IBM techs. Yep they had

    Really that there was that paper pushing going backwards and forwards between IBM head office in the USA and the German company over a rights issue is IBM stalling. Direct evidence of IBM stalling is made out as working with the Germany. Yes the book contains evidence that IBM was not cooperative.

    Like all bluffs you have to fold before the other side works out you were bluffing. IBM pulled off a lot of successful bluffs. IBM is the master of FUD later on. That came from there stalling of Germany and how they got Germany to use a few generation old techs. The best IBM FUD in the lead up to World War II was that electronic systems were not dependable.

    Agent_Smith misses that IBM bad example going forwards starts in the lead up to World war II.

    oldman we are talking about a cross roads event here.

  7. oiaohm says:

    oldman No ammount of hand waving changes the facts around what forced them todo the deed.

    The facts is they did not have a choice but todo it. Even in 1933 put anyone in IBM position in Germany they are stuffed they will be doing the count. History shows lots of companies being ceased in 1933 and they did not care if it was international companies assets or not.

    The facts IBM did not do deed the fastest way the could. If IBM had done it the fastest way they could the census would have been completed sooner that most like would have seen everything progress faster.

    The facts IBM supported the USA mil and Government to get rid of the Nazi’s from Germany.

    –What does this have to do with the documented fact that IBM colluded with the Nazis?–

    This is not correct. Colluded suggest free will. worked for is a more valid statement. There is the problem.

    I don’t say that IBM did not do the deed. I say the did the deed under major duress. If they were happy todo the deed everything would have been faster.

    Germany was not the only non USA country IBM provided and assisted in doing the census for. Or provided criminal tracking systems. The interesting point is the only one with a factory where the first machines for those jobs were not build in the USA first then factory brought.

    Key fact the book avoids. That IBM integrations with Germany were abnormal for IBM.

    The basic machine that did the census in germany been around since 1910. This is another fact people don’t mention. The tech Germany was not brand new its was a few generations old. IBM was not giving Germany the latest and greatest tech either.

    Finally the kicker the design of the machine is German IBM only acquired the rights to produce it.

    1933 using a gear based machine. This is the thing you have todo oldman pull out your history. 1933 current tech was relay and valve based not gear.

    Did IBM have valve based computing and census machines at the time yes they did. Did Germany in 1933 to end of war ever see them. No they did not.

    So IBM did the deed dragging their feet. Its a three way compare required. pen and paper vs gear based processing vs electronic processing. The holocaust is bad. We have to be thankful IBM was not a willing player providing the best tech they had.

    Actions speak louder than words. You will find words that will appear that IBM is guilty because they would have been forced to say it.

    Actions requires looking at the tech and the production IBM had. How they did other censuses leading up to the German one.

  8. Adam King says:

    You say that, not me.

  9. oldman says:

    “IBMKilledMyMommyâ„¢
    …with bookkeeping.”

    Are you this big a jerk Mr. King?

  10. oldman says:

    “No it’s not. It’s about one group of people looking for more and more people to blame so they can constantly be a victim. Like those people who keep going to the hospital just for the attention.”

    What does this have to do with the documented fact that IBM colluded with the Nazis?

    As I have just pointed out to the Hamster Mr. King, no amount of hand-waving is going to change the facts.

    period.

  11. Adam King says:

    IBMKilledMyMommyâ„¢
    …with bookkeeping.

  12. oldman says:

    “oldman really question if I put a gun to you head and you give me money out till did you rob the store.”

    Completely irrelevant.

    You don’t get it do you hamster. No excuses, no hand waving on your part is is going to change anything

    IBM did the deed – period.

  13. oiaohm says:

    oldman really question if I put a gun to you head and you give me money out till did you rob the store.

    Because that is the arguement you are backing is that that is you robbing the store not me holding the gun to your head ordering you todo it.

    That is the problem here with IBM and the German case.

    Don’t assist have your company assets taken for being pro jew and they done anyhow. Don’t place a quote todo it have you company ceased and it used anyhow.

    Result IBM from 1933 on had gun to head like every other company.

    IBM made it as slow as possible building factory then machine then doing census there is only so much you can delay things.

    Remember the IBM company in germany had been there since 1910 and yes had all the technical specs to build all of the machines from scratch. Before Hitler took power.

    This problem is very hard on IBM. There was bugger all IBM could do to stop it. Its not like committing company death would help.

    oldman Black over looks the fact there were no import/export restrictions in 1933-5 so why did not IBM send machines directly. There are historic clues that IBM was not fully cooperating. Rules in play do mean IBM does have to appear to play along.

    This is very much like an intentional mistake someone being forced todo something against will commonly does.

    That is the other interesting thing anywhere else IBM sent machines and tooled up at the same time. Germany is the odd one out.

  14. Adam King says:

    Cheap relativism. The weakest trick in the book. Acknowledging the holocaust has nothing to do with ignoring other things like it. This is not a f**king
    competition.”

    No it’s not. It’s about one group of people looking for more and more people to blame so they can constantly be a victim. Like those people who keep going to the hospital just for the attention.

  15. oldman says:

    “Chris Weig the problem is IBM played two roles one was to destroy the jews one was to save them.”

    More excusemaking. The fact is that IBM did the deed.

    ALl else is baloney.

  16. oldman says:

    “They did business. That was their job. They had no way of knowing what would come of it any more than M$ knows Idi Amin did using their stuff. If IBM had not supplied hardware the Germans would have used something else. IBM did not do the deed.”

    Pog this is nothing more than a variation on the
    “I was only following orders….” defense. FOr some after the war it was not a very good defense…

    IBM participated in the deed, they shared in the deed. It was their luck not to be called to task on it at the time.

    It does not change the fact of their partication one iota. and none of your vigorous handwaving is going to make that go away.

  17. oiaohm says:

    Chris Weig –MORAL responsibility–

    That is the problem. IBM did take MORAL responsibility at the time and did what was possible based on the evidence and time lines.

    IBM Thomas J. Watson was not the only one to receive a reward from the third riek. Thomas J. Watson was the only one to return it. Based on MORAL grounds. This could have had big nasty outcomes for IBM.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_the_German_Eagle#Recipients

    That is something people who raise this IBM one miss completely. 4 head of business received one. Yet I don’t hear you talking against GM or Ford for not returning theirs.

    So not everything IBM did was the wrong thing.

    MORAL responsibility is where the problem with this arguement has big problems. You are only Morally responsibly for what you can control. 1933 IBM was fairly much screwed like most other companies in Germany with control of their companies.

  18. Agent_Smith says:

    I would not blame IBM for WW2. I would blame IBM for setting the standard (the guidebook, so to speak) that all evil corporations followed (Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, and so on): vendor lock-in, incompatibility with other machines/brands, and patents persecution.

  19. Chris Weig says:

    Those people need to get over themselves. There have been bigger genocides in history. Stallin killed like 20 million and nobody even remembers that. The Armenians were genocided and no one remembers that.

    Cheap relativism. The weakest trick in the book. Acknowledging the holocaust has nothing to do with ignoring other things like it. This is not a f**king competition.

    IBM has more than atoned for anything they might’ve conceivably done with their unwaverin support of GNU/Linux and freedom.

    You are insane, aren’t you? You can atone now for something like that by supporting FLOSS?! Are you braindead?

    Yes, it’s true: almost all legal systems allow for such atonement, usually in form of money being awarded to victims.

    Yes, it’s true: the generation of today is not in any way directly responsible for what happened in WW2.

    But, yes, it’s also true that the MORAL responsibility remains! And it has to be kept alive.

    Your argumentation, Adam King, curiously is very much like the one which is used by right-wing and Neonazi groups in Germany and Austria. Those people always demand to finally call it quits because Germany/Austria have long atoned for their sins.

  20. oiaohm says:

    Chris Weig the problem is IBM played two roles one was to destroy the jews one was to save them.

    The save them is the cheep hardware they provided to the USA government. The fact that the jews in IBM factories got feed and cared for compared to some other factories.

    Not all problems are black and white. IBM world war II is very hard problem.

    Its very hard to say IBM profited from it either when you follow the money and you find that most of the income went into the USA war machine at that time. IBM profit latter on comes from there close ties with the USA mil.

    IBM guilt has to be based on what if anything IBM could have done differently. So far no one has really presented what they could really have done different with means todo it differently.

    Pulling the hardware was impossible past a particular point.

  21. Ivan wrote, “The whole world played a role in that.

    I’m sure the families of the survivors appreciate your total disregard of history.”

    My family was affected by the war. My country, Canada, turned away Jewish emigres even when Canada needed immigrants. That’s history. The League of Nations failed to stand up to Hitler. Who knows whether decisive action years earlier might have prevented WWII and the deaths of tens of millions, much more than the Holocaust victims? I know a lot of history. WWII killed 60 million combatants and civilians.

  22. oldman wrote, “The fact is that while IBM was let off the hook legally, the facts of what they did stand.”

    They did business. That was their job. They had no way of knowing what would come of it any more than M$ knows Idi Amin did using their stuff. If IBM had not supplied hardware the Germans would have used something else. IBM did not do the deed.

  23. Adam King says:

    “I’m sure the families of the survivors appreciate your total disregard of history.”

    Those people need to get over themselves. There have been bigger genocides in history. Stallin killed like 20 million and nobody even remembers that. The Armenians were genocided and no one remembers that. So wining about everyone that could have been sort of involved in a genocide is ridiculous. IBM has more than atoned for anything they might’ve conceivably done with their unwaverin support of GNU/Linux and freedom.

  24. oldman says:

    I would submit Robert Pogson, that the only thing that you succeed in doing is to destroy any validity their might be in your blog with this kind of stupidity.

    The fact is that while IBM was let off the hook legally, the facts of what they did stand. It is also a reality that any continued attempts on your part to “defend” them are going to do nothing but make you look bad.

    If you were smart Pog, you would let this one go.

    Are you smart?

  25. Ivan says:

    The whole world played a role in that.

    I’m sure the families of the survivors appreciate your total disregard of history.

  26. That Exploit Guy says:

    @Robert Pogson

    I have no words for this, except what I have already said.

    “Oh, lemme guess – you looked up TMR’s website and decided this was the best answer without reconciling with your perceived enemy (*cough* MS *cough*). Here’s still a problem, though – Thomas J. Watson continued to be the chairman of the company until he died in 1956. That’s 11 years after the end of World War 2. Now, of course, after more than half a century, you talk about all this IBM doing ‘a lot of good in the world today’ (while ignoring the fact that even Hugo Boss apologised for producing uniforms for the SS), ‘sins of the fathers’ and whatever, but at the same time, you are not extending the same courtesy to MS. Of course, why would you? You are far too emotionally invested in bringing down that company with your blog entries. It’s your life goal now to, as you yourself admit, witness its downfall. Rationality would just be in the way of pursuing your purpose, would it not?”

  27. Chris Weig says:

    The whole world played a role in that. Are you going to hate everyone, forever?

    Putting words in my mouth. It’s not about hate, it’s about responsibility. And IBM basically has taken none.

    I know that you hate Microsoft. I do. That’s why so many of your arguments are so ill-fated. Perhaps you should take a step back. Jehova’s Witnesses standing on the street displaying “The Watchtower” are better evangelists than you ever will be.

  28. Chris Weig wrote, “That IBM played a role in destroying the Jews is a fact.”

    The whole world played a role in that. Are you going to hate everyone, forever?

    M$ is the same company run by the same people with the same values and using the same methods to mess with competition and to deprive people of choice today as they were 20 years ago. I might stop hating them in 20 years because they won’t be around any longer but then I might not be as well. That’s life.

  29. Chris Weig says:

    I don’t get you, Pogson. What “mud-slinging”? That IBM played a role in destroying the Jews is a fact. That does not mean that you can’t praise IBM for other things they did, but the other things they did certainly can’t cancel out what they did in WW2. But this seems exactly what you want to suggest with this post of yours.

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