Wednesday, August 16, 2017

IBM's dark, secret link to Nazis

TODAY, IBM (International Business Machines) is a massive New York based multinational technology corporation with operations around the world.

It has annual revenue of $US81 billion and 380,000 employees. Finance magazines Barron's and Fortune dub IBM the world's most respected and admired company.

However, the huge corporation has a dark, secret past it doesn't tell you about in its glossy brochures listing Nobel prize winners and technological breakthroughs.

What they don't tell you is that in the 1930s IBM was instrumental in providing groundbreaking technology that assisted the Nazi regime in identifying and tracking down Jews for its methodical program of genocide.

One of the machines is displayed in a place of prominence at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. The IBM badge can be clearly seen.

It was a technical marvel of its time, the forerunner of today's computers.

The complex-looking machine was a punch card and card-sorting system initially built to assist the collation of vast amounts of information gathered in a census.

In the 1930s, IBM was one of the largest firms in the world, a true multinational conglomerate, with its headquarters in New York.

Oddly, IBM has Germanic origins. Herman Hollerith was the son of German immigrants. Working in the US Census Bureau, he was still in his twenties when he devised a machine using punch cards to tabulate the 1890 census.  (more...)


This account touches me in numerous ways. IBM was a principal benefactor of the university faculties that I studied at; much of the computing equipment that I used was manufactured by IBM. IBM was my first employer post-university. Interestingly, my college don was a graduate of Columbia University, where IBM founder Thomas Watson was a board member. Finally, the terminus of the mergers and acquisitions that swallowed up my most recent employers was IBM. They sow, and then they reap.

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