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TR Dojo Quiz: 100 years of IBM history

As International Business Machines (IBM) prepares to celebrate its 100th birthday, test your knowledge of this American tech icon.

On Thursday, June 16 2011, International Business Machines (IBM), perhaps America's oldest tech company, will turn 100 years old. To test your knowledge of this iconic company, I've put together a quick TR Dojo Pop Quiz.

If you need a bit of a refresher before taking the quiz, check out this quick CBS News Sunday Morning video on IBM's history.

Note: Unfortunately, our poll tool, which I use to create each pop quiz, doesn't let me indicate a correct answer after each question. To keep from giving away the answers before everyone has a chance to test his/her knowledge, and ruining all the fun, I've published the answers on the last page of this blog post. I encourage everyone to answer all the questions before looking at the last page or using your favorite search engine to find the answers.

For more information on IBM and its history, check out the following resources:

For answers to the quiz, go to the next page.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

60 comments
Tord55
Tord55

IBM 360, running ALGOL, at KTH, then a Selectric, years later. SInce then the only IBM-related things I have used occasionally have been MS-DOS (and Windows).

count_zero_interuptus
count_zero_interuptus

Contrary to popular belief, the monopolistic company for decades stifled competition and innovation in the industry. Until Intel finally cracked the shell with the 8080 and opened what were to be the floodgates and renaissance of computing. Never have been a fan of IBM in all my 40 years in the industry. Still am not. Can you tell?

gparsons611
gparsons611

I guess I misunderstood the DOS question, but didn't IBM produce PC-DOS first, before Bill Gates left and created (Microsoft) MS-DOS?

lcristof
lcristof

Where did those crazy nymbers following all the hardware come from? Was there any logical reason to the madness?

ddyk
ddyk

Ah the numbers... Type your deck on a 029 card punch, line up at the 2501 card reader, processed by the 360/158, and results spit out on the 1403 line printer. Then I was lucky enough to get a job as a part time operator and I could actually control (or was it serve??) the beast. Mounting tapes on the 2401 tape drives... change the massive removable DASD packs on the 2314's (which I looked up today... held an equally impressive 58MB of storage!) What I'd give for a couple of hours back in the good ole' days!!

martin.how
martin.how

My first IBM equipment was a 029/129 card punch at Inperial college in 1973. This was used to make cards for Fortran4 running on a CDC CyberSystem70. After using a Teletype33 Dial Up to on PDP 10 at school the move to cards at Uni was a step back. We had a couple of Selectrics and a Composer (golf ball with memory and proportial spacing) when i started work iin 1978, but the first IBM computer was a 5110 which we bought in 1978. It was a desk top with 16Kram, bult in Basic with indexed file access, two 1.3Mb floppys (8") and a printer. It revolutionised our lives.

nik.sargeant
nik.sargeant

First experience was trying to run my first program on an IBM 1130 at Cambridge University during an open day when I was 16 .. Second was an IBM Model 11B typewriter I restored, third was an IBM Model 029 card punch I did some of my degree work on, and fourth was when I started at IBM straight out of university with a degree in electronics.

dougwyeth
dougwyeth

My first encounter with IBM or computers for that matter was operating a IBM 360/22 running TOS. It was a joy to see the tape whizzing around trying to find commands and the typewriter golf ball hovering and twitching waiting to issue a reply. Since then I have worked on Dos (all flavours) MVS and VM. Always looked forward to the men in blue suits and white shirts making visits.

robbiedabruce
robbiedabruce

Good memories - In 1961 onwards I worked on IBM Interpreter, Reproducer, 077,088 Collator, 082, 083, 084 Sorters, 421 Accounting machine, then lo and behold a 1401 processor. From this moved to a 360/20, System 3, then onto a 4300, thence a AS400. A great escalation over the years to the turn of the century. Apart from Basic, there was Autocoder, Fortran, Cobol, Assembler, and RPG. Still have a box of unused 80 col puch cards.

dale
dale

Reading millions of those 80 column Hollerith cards into the 2540, cannibalizing the punch to keep the reader reading. And it was nothing like 52 card pick-up when one of the programs burst into the air! Opening the drawer of the 2314 DASD drawer as the disk unit was still spinning down, un-mounting and sliding that payroll pack on the floor as you mounted a new disk and changed the address plug. Manually loading the tapes on the 2401, no easy loaders or cartridges. Loading continuous 14"x11" forms on the 1403 impact printer without getting ink on you. And then the 360/40 with the 1052 console, a powerful Selectric. The system had a whole 128k of storage with a built in C.E. cabinet for their smocks. It was nicknamed the pizza oven because it was so hot inside and there was just enough room on top of CPU, inside the housing, to slide a pizza in to keep warm. In case anyone is interested IBM is hosting their own 100th year celebration at http://www.ibm.com/ibm100/us/en/

maxthegold
maxthegold

I got a job as a computer operator in 1970 and started out in the machine room, handling tens of thousands of punched cards. I used a 083 sorter a 557 interpreter and a 519 duplicator. These last two were programmed using a huge perforated panel and loads of jump leads connecting two holes together.

rvanhaecke
rvanhaecke

Enlisted US Army "Machine accountants" school Feb 1959 so I could learn IBM machines. Got the school, maxed the class, never looked back. Spent three years in Germany learning all I could about every IBM machine I could put my hands on. Card Sorters 081, 082, 083, Card collators 076, 077, Card Interpreters 055, 056, 057, Tabulators 402, 403, 407, Reproducing card punch 514, Summary Punch 519, Calculators 602A, 650, 609, Computer 705, Key punchs, 024, 026, Key verifier 056. Most funnest, enjoyable, make-it-sing-machine capable of doing whatever management wanted was the IBM 1401 computer. This is likely the single machine I truly mastered in my carrer, and I loved it. First 1401 I programmed had 8000 chars of memory with card reader, card punch, line printer. Next upgrade was a 1401 with 16,000 chars of memory, card reader, card punch, printer, 4 tape drives, 2 disk drives. There was not a task we couldn't do with that machine including determining "best wire pinning paths" to wire the XLO Bryant high performance disk drives that would eventually compete with the disk drives on the IBM System/360.

wrparks
wrparks

Fairchild was Chairman of Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company from 1915 to 1924. In 1924 Watson took over and changed the name to IBM, so wouldn't that make him the first President and Chairman of IBM?

spottumati
spottumati

I learnt on a IBM/3 48K of memory, golf-ball console, 2 fixed disks, 2Mb each, plus a removable 5445 with 20Mb of space, IBM card puncher 54 cols, the most advanced in 1977, 1403 printer and 3310 tape driver, We used to process everything in Cobol and RPG from General Ledger to Statistics, not missing the SLA, never.. what about now, eh? Thanks IBM.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

In the fall of my junior year in high school, the local college was experimenting with community outreach and continuing education evening classes. They had an Intro to Computers class that presented the rudiments of computers, BASIC, and FORTRAN. Learned to use the 029. Also learned how it feels to drop a deck. :_| The following spring I took typing.

joe11701
joe11701

I was a high school student in Bellmore NY, the school had an IBM 1130, and a DEC PDP8/e. Puch cards, FORTRAN, RPG and 1130 Assembler..... doesn't get any better....

calistra
calistra

In 1968 one of my school teachers (Brian Barker) introduced a computer programming class. We learnt FORTRAN and laboriously used hand punches that he had somehow borrowed from Imperial College. Each hole on the card was individually punched out by pushing it with a tiny hand tool through a clear plastic template that allowed us to only punch even columns. We could not add comments because comments were denoted by a "C" in column 7. Every week he would take the cards to Imperial College get our jobs run and the next week we would get our print out back - 90% of the time it was showing us compiler errors so we could take a month or so finally to get a ten to twenty line program running.

maria.grabowski
maria.grabowski

Do you remember IBM 3380 DASD? That would be Direct Access Storage Device. As a programmer we would be allocated space by referencing specific disk cylinders and tracks. If you screwed up your JCL you could blow away your co-workers or coporate data. Ahh when creating a file was a science. I found a link: http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/storage/storage_PH3380A.html Saving a byte of storage per record (no databases yet) was paramount. That is why centuries were not included in dates, thus Y2K.

IBM 1401
IBM 1401

In 1972, I was hired as a GS-4 computer operator, leaving a comfortable mechanic's job. My first IBM was the IBM 1401 with a card reader/punch, 2 9-track tape drives and an IBM 1403 page printer (chain mechanism). The noise level and stress level was surprisingly high. I was constantly afraid I would break something on this "million dollar" computer and after about an hour I was wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into. In fact, it changed my life and 40 years later, I'm still using and working on computers. A+

jpatrick.john
jpatrick.john

My first experiences with IBM equipment were in 1964 when I wired and operated the 407 Tabulating Machine, 602 Calculating Machine, 082, 083, and 084 Card Sorters, 087 and 088 collating machines and several levels of keypunches and verifiers. This was in the USAF Security Services in Danang Viet Nam and Karamursel Turkey. Good stuff. I have had a 47 year career in IT that started there.

maria.grabowski
maria.grabowski

I can remember in the early 80's creating my COBOL and JCL (job control language) punch cards to be read into the IBM 360 card reader and getting my 1 or 2 job turnarounds a day. I'd pickup my printoout and then debug my program. Then they introduced the IBM 370 and that seemed so much faster. Now my laptop screams in comparison to those 'mainframe' computers that took up so much floor space. It was a big deal to get a dumb terminal connected. Today's programmers are so spoiled they don't have a clue regarding how it used to be. Many people today think because they can use a computer that they know programming. Not even close. Today's kids should really explore opurtunities in programming. It is a great career.

sperry532
sperry532

The FIRST IBM product I used was a card puncher and a card proofer. I've no idea what models they were. This was back in 1962. Then in 68, I got to use the IBM MTSC (Magnetic Tape Selectric Composer)Mk IV. It was essentially a typesetter consisting of a tape reader/writer that used cartridges of 1" mag tape to record and play back keystrokes on an attached Selectric typewriter. There was minimal control, Justify, quad left and right, and center, and stops to allow the user to switch typeballs for different fonts like italic. Them was th' days, I tells ya!

bboswell
bboswell

Other than an impromptu introduction to the PC (via a neighbor's IBM PC with the green screen in 1982, that had ZERO graphics capability), my first experience with IBM equipment was my freshman FORTRAN 77 programming class in college (1990). We had accounts on the university's IBM System/370, which were accessed either using a lab full of PC clones running 3270 terminal emulator software (with token ring adapters), or another lab full of actual IBM 3270 terminals. We also had our introduction to the internet: our e-mails on the said mainframe accounts were U@.edu We all thought it was cool that we could e-mail our friends at other universities before our friends and family even knew what the internet was. It was doubly coold that you could download programs like Tetris for your HP 48 programmable calculator onto the lab PC's using an FTP client :) For your homework, you had to print out your source code and output. You submitted jobs for both of those, and you had to wait while someone behind the counter in the computer center ripped out the print jobs off of the greenbar printer in the computer center and stuck the output in your cubbie hole (which was alphabetical).

carolw
carolw

This accounting machine had boards which to be wired for each individual transaction, and there was a board for each frequently used transaction, such as billing. We used jumper wires with plugs like the old telephone switchboards. We also wired card sorters. This was in the 1960's. They called these accounting machines unit record equipment then. The first computer I used was the IBM 1620 in the 1970's, which emitted radio waves. Enterprising young people determined which operation emitted what pitch, and programmed entire pieces of music, which were punched into punch card decks, one note per card. I remember particularly Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody and The William Tell Overture. You had to turn your transistor radio to the 1620's frequency to pick up the signal. There was also a little sign that said "People with long hair do not bend over the card reader", a nod to what would someday become OSHA.

r_rosen
r_rosen

858 Cardatype machine. Programmed with plug board and wires.

dave the IT guy
dave the IT guy

I suppose my first interaction with anything from IBM would have been a Selectric typewriter - but the one I remember most was my 1984 IBM PC Portable. I got it used in the 1991. I still had it up until about 2 years ago when the box it was in was part of a small flood in my basement. DOS 6.22, MS Word 4... It even ran WordPerfect 5.1

tommad
tommad

My dad got my mom a reconditioned typewriter (NOT a selectric) back in the mid-to-late 60's, but the first real IBM product I used was a model 29 cardpunch....later upgraded to a model 129 (printing, woohoo!)

don
don

There aren't many American icons left. IBM is one and, arguably, the best one at that.

knelson
knelson

On Wednesday, June 15th, IBM employee???s volunteerism in the Twin Cities focused on getting youth excited about Science, Engineering and Technology at partnering community agencies around the Twin Cities. Hundreds of youth experienced hands-on activities, learned about careers at IBM, and had fun. Community Partners included: PACER center, Phyllis Wheatley Community Center, Centro, Jabbok Family Services and the YWCA Youth Achiever Program. Check out pictures at: https://picasaweb.google.com/KenNelson515/IBMCoSJun152011?authkey=Gv1sRgCNmhpYTU97KFUQ&feat=directlink

WDMARKPC
WDMARKPC

While Watson popularized THINK at IBM, its origin for use in business is at National Cash Register (NCR) as evident in NCR's archives that I saw during my time at NCR/AT&T. Happy Birthday to IBM.

reisen55
reisen55

I have an advantage here, only missed the Thomas J. Watson question. Was with a business partner AS/400 from1990 to 1992, the infamous Akers years - a painful memory.

jamie
jamie

First IBM equipment I used were 2 huge photocopiers that were in the Desktop Publishing Dept at IBM North Harbour. They were named after the carriages in "Thomas The Tank Engine" and were just as nasty! They bit (fingers stuck in drawers), static shocks were common, paper cuts abound, and just plain onorary (jammed regularly!).

Scott.Geiger
Scott.Geiger

Missed a couple, but didn't miss Q2 or Q4. Would have been really sad if I did since I live a couple minutes from Endicott and have walked past the old IBM buildings many many many times - one of the buildings has THINK engraved on it. IBM is having a number of events around the area here.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

wasn't mentioned in the list of IBM forerunners. It's the one we talk about here in Endicott.

mapsonburt
mapsonburt

I remember using the Selectric in typing class... if we could type faster than 40 wpm, we got to use the limited Selectrics instead of the old swing arm types. When I got to university, we used an IBM System 360 with actual CRT terminals... which was a huge step up from the Burroughs we had to start with. I then got the very first IBM PC and spent the next 10 years developing process control applications for it using DOS, QNX, Windows and then OS/2. My fondest memory of the original PC was the one we used to control a 10 MW snowmaking plant for the 88 Winter Olympics. We had to strip it out of its case and put it in a custom cabinet because we had three cooling fans on it due to the fact that we had it running three different displays (including a $5K 640x480 Professional Graphics Adapter), touch screen, laser printer and it was connected to an IEEE-488 HP Data Acquisition unit as well as to a custom RS-232 data acquisition unit that was about 3 miles away and three different radio based modems. We had about $40K of hardware directly connected to that 4.66Mhz PC and you could touch the screen and have it automatically move high pressure water valves to reconfigure the pumping system to pump in parallel or series (high volume or high pressure) and start 2,000 HP air compressors all the while getting weather information off the mountain in real time. We did this in DOS and inside 640K of RAM. It was too bad Don Eldridge (the father of the IBM PC within IBM) was killed in a plane crash... We would have got to client server much sooner (I suspect we'd also all be running OS/2 now). IBM never really knew what to do with the PC after he was gone and this led to the crash in 92. I also remember a big force behind the scenes of OS/2 was a Sam Detwiler.... related Bill?

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

The first IBM products I remember using were a Selectric typewriter (Yes. It was still called "typing" then, not "keyboarding".) and a Proprinter dot-matrix printer. What was your first experience with IBM?

DNSB
DNSB

Actually, Bill Gates sold DOS to IBM and then went out and bought Seattle Computer Product's QDOS which was munged into PC-DOS and MS-DOS. Some rather strange stories around the sale and later events such as SCP selling CPUs with MS-DOS tossed in.

MikeG24
MikeG24

I never had to hand punch a card (thank god!) Always used a card punch machine. Did you guys have to worry about hanging chads? ;-)

MikeG24
MikeG24

I remember going to school in the days when I would submit card decks to the Burroughs B5500, then wait for the results. I would then try to find all of the syntax errors possible, corrent them by rekeying the cards, and putting them in the correct spot in the deck, and resubmitting. When the Multics system replaced the B5500, more stuff was done online (except for the COBOL class, which the instructor insisted we continue to use cards!), and it became more a case of compiling, fixing the first error, recompiling, ...

frank.jeckell
frank.jeckell

International Time Recording Company was the R in C-T-R, the original name of IBM so it was very much a forerunner. I happen to own an old wind-up ITR time clock which still works and stamps the date and time on a time card when you push the handle.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

I didn't want to confuse people by using any of the actual companies (like the International Time Recording Company, Computing Scale Company, Tabulating Machine Company, or even the Bundy Manufacturing Co. ) that were merged into what would become IBM.

InstructorJWN
InstructorJWN

I used to get my OS/2 1.x Beta distributions from Sam (at Ford / IBM Alliance Program Office (APO) when I worked at Ford. Sam is quite a guy. I too wondered if Bill was related to Sam. (Sam's name showed up on the "About" displays for OS/2. He was involved with Driver Development I think.

mikpar
mikpar

The card punch was probably the first piece of IBM equipment I ever used. But the very first computer I ever used was an IBM 7090-7094 DCS, in 1966 at the University of Washington. Five years later I got my first job as a programmer, writing Autocoder on an IBM 7074 (a decimal based machine). I think I have written code on just about every IBM S360 compatible mainframe since, and now work on a z/196.

cwayneu
cwayneu

My first programming was on an IBM 1620 using FORTRAN. I think this might have been the only base 10 computer (not octal or hex) ever built. You could actually watch instructions being loaded into the execution register from the lights on the console panel.

MikeG24
MikeG24

My first experience was at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. In the late 70's, while working on a degree in Computer, Information Science, I took a job as a midnight shift student operator once a week. At the time, the school had a Burroughs B5500 for academic, and an IBM 360 for the administration. Some things I remember were the jobs that ran overnight updating the student master file, a huge sequential file that spanned three disk packs (no databases back then! :-) ). I also remember for jobs like that, we ran under an environment called POWER, which stood for Priority Output Writers, Execution processors and input Readers. Finally, no talk of the 360 would be complete without mentioning that control in the upper right corner of the panel that said "EMERGENCY PULL". How many nights I thought about what would happen if that were pulled! Those were some good times back in the day!

compuwise1
compuwise1

I remember using a proportional spacing typewriter, which had different space bars for n- and m-spaces and made a beautifully typed document. Typed many a college paper on that one.

pauc1
pauc1

First experience was a 10 by 10 matrix inversion on an IBM 650. All vacuum tubes. Inversion took about 15 minutes and gave wrong answers because of insufficient resolution. Lots and lots of punch cards.

mhickma
mhickma

My first experience with IBM was selling Tandy 1000 machines. The line I used most often to sell those computers was telling people that they were 100% compatible with IBM software. Then about 1998, a friend tried buying his first laptop off of eBay. It was a Think pad, and ran Windows 3.1 with AOL. Seems my brother had an IBM calculator for school in the early-70's, but that is a an old memory and may not be accurate. But, the "Tandy 1000, 64K memory, and completely compatible with any of IBM's software".

wepollak
wepollak

IBM Unit record equipment 407 accounting mahcine, 088 sorter, 016 keypunch Then I went to 1401 computer.

JimWillette
JimWillette

My first was probably a Selectric, followed by an 029 card punch (FORTRAN at community college) followed by various 360 and 370 models up to, but not including, the z/Series. I was working for a couple of PCM competitors at the time. I even programmed a 360/20. Resold the 9370 and 9221 as a tape library controller. Touched DOS/VS and MVT, MVS but was into VM up to my elbows. Good times.

PSepulveda
PSepulveda

The first IBM product I used was the IBM 1620.

Robert Meppelink
Robert Meppelink

It ran hot and noisy, but I used it to write thousands and thousands of words in college in the late 1960's. That thing made me later appreciate word processing like nothing else could have. My uncle, who worked for IBM for about 40 years, gave it to me. Incidentally, I am told he was one of the team that came up with the numeric keypad for keyboards. He worked in Lansing, MI and at the end of his career in California, in one of those fortress-like IBM offices so common in the 50's and 60's.

JCitizen
JCitizen

my first PC was the IBM Convertible. A bit clunky,for a laptop, but tough as nails! I used it in the field in horrible conditions in the Army, and it is still functional, if I would build a battery for it!

tim
tim

My first exposure was an IBM 101. This was essentially a counter-sorter but was programmable with what looked like switchboard cords in the back panel of the machine. I'm in the Market Research business and had previously tabulated all our data by hand and counter sorter. This was a phenomenal breakthrough. The year was 1960. However, within a couple of years we acquired an IBM 1401 with a 1403 printer attached. I thought this was going to put us all out of work....but here I am 51 years later pounding on a keyboard!!

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

with a Western Electric Dataphone (103J) at 300 baud! Edit: (It was in high school, and we even convinced the IBM tech to teach us how to replace tilt/rotate bands and leave us a few spares so the terminal wasn't out of service waiting for him!)

Raymond Danner
Raymond Danner

The IBM Proprinter was a relabeled Epson MX-80, Bill. Reason I know this is because in 1984, I went into the computer lab at the college I was going to school at (Jefferson State Jr. College, Pinson, AL) and one of the printers was chiming a code that I instantly recognized as "paper jam". Fixed the jam in about eight seconds, only then looking at the label on the printer, which initially confused me. It was an IBM Proprinter... but it was, in reality, a rebranded MX-80. Possibly a MX-80+, but made by Epson all the same. (One reason I know this? Had to tear down a Proprinter once. It had the same innards as the Epson MX-80...). Those were not good days for me in too, too many ways.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Bill Gates bought QDOS and munged it into MS-DOS, then licensed it to IBM for the original PC. From that license came PC-DOS.

mhickma
mhickma

I missed one question, Q10.

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