The company was founded in 1911 as the Computing Tabulating Recording Company (CTR) through a merger of three companies: the Tabulating Machine Company, the International Time Recording Company, and the Computing Scale Company. CTR adopted the name International Business Machines in 1924, using a name previously designated to CTR’s subsidiary in Canada and later South America. Securities analysts nicknamed IBM Big Blue in recognition of IBM’s common use of blue in products, packaging, and logo.
In 2012, Fortune ranked IBM the No. 2 largest U.S. firm in terms of number of employees (435,000 worldwide), the No. 4 largest in terms of market capitalization, the No. 9 most profitable, and the No. 19 largest firm in terms of revenue. Globally, the company was ranked the No. 31 largest in terms of revenue by Forbes for 2011. Other rankings for 2011/2012 include No. 1 company for leaders (Fortune), No. 1 green company worldwide (Newsweek), No. 2 best global brand (Interbrand), No. 2 most respected company (Barron’s), No. 5 most admired company (Fortune), and No. 18 most innovative company (Fast Company).
IBM has 12 research laboratories worldwide and, as of 2013, has held the record for most patents generated by a company for 20 consecutive years. Its employees have garnered five Nobel Prizes, six Turing Awards, ten National Medals of Technology, and five National Medals of Science. Notable inventions by IBM 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 RDBMS and SQL, SABRE airline reservation system, DRAM, and Watson artificial intelligence.