IBM Research

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]

IBM employees have garnered six Nobel Prizes, six Turing Awards, 20 inductees into the U.S. National Inventors Hall of Fame, 19 National Medals of Technology, five National Medals of Science and three Kavli Prizes.[2]

As of 2018, the company has generated more patents than any other business in each of 25 consecutive years, which is a record.[3]


The roots of today's IBM Research began with the 1945 opening of the Watson Scientific Computing Laboratory at Columbia University.[4] 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,[5][6] including the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in 1961.[5][6]


Notable company inventions include 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 smartphone, the portable computer, the Automated Teller Machine (ATM), the silicon-on-insulator (SOI) semiconductor manufacturing process, Watson artificial intelligence[7] and the Quantum Experience.

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 Anthem Inc..

Notable IBM Research computer scientists

There are a number of computer scientists "who made IBM Research famous."[9] These include Frances E. Allen,[10] Marc Auslander, John Backus,[11][12][13][14][15][16] Charles H. Bennett (computer scientist), Erich Bloch,[17] Grady Booch, [18][19] [20] [21][22] Fred Brooks (known for his book The Mythical Man-Month),[23][24][25][26] Peter Brown,[27] Larry Carter,[28][29] Gregory Chaitin, John Cocke, Alan Cobham,[30] Edgar F. Codd, Don Coppersmith, Ronald Fagin, Horst Feistel, Jeanne Ferrante, Zvi Galil, Ralph E. Gomory, Jim Gray, Joseph Halpern, Kenneth E. Iverson, Frederick Jelinek, Reynold B. Johnson, Benoit Mandelbrot, Robert Mercer (businessman), C. Mohan, Michael O. Rabin, Arthur Samuel, Alfred Spector, Moshe Vardi, John Vlissides, Mark N. Wegman and Shmuel Winograd.

Other notable developments


Name Location Founded
IBM Research – Africa Nairobi, Kenya 2013
Johannesburg, South Africa 2015
IBM Research – Almaden Almaden Valley, San Jose, California 1986
IBM Research – Austin Austin, Texas 1995
IBM Research – Australia Melbourne, Australia 2011
IBM Research – Brazil São Paulo, Brazil 2010
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 2010
IBM Research – China Beijing, China 1995
Shanghai, China 2008
IBM Research – Haifa Haifa, Israel 1972
IBM Research – India Delhi, India 1998
Bangalore, India 1998
IBM Research – Ireland Damastown, Ireland 2011
IBM Research – Thomas J. Watson Research Center Yorktown Heights, New York 1945
Albany, New York 2001
IBM Research – Tokyo Tokyo, Japan 1982
IBM Research – Zurich Rüschlikon, Switzerland 1956

Historic research centers



  1. "Labs and locations". IBM Research. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
  2. "Awards & Achievements". IBM. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
  3. "IBM Breaks Records to Top U.S. Patent List for 25th Consecutive Year". IBM (Press release). 9 January 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  4. "IBM Watson Laboratory at Columbia University". Retrieved 2010-05-05.
  5. 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.
  6. IBM, "Watson Research Center: Watson Facility History"
  7. "History of progress". IBM Research. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
  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.
  9. "Computer scientists who made IBM Research famous", IBM, 17 December 2012, retrieved 16 January 2016
  10. Biography and oral history
  11. IBM Archives
  12. Stanford Archives
  13. NNDB profile
  14. Columbia University page
  15. New York Times obituary
  16. John Backus Memorial
  17. IBM Archives
  18. Researcher personal page
  19. My developer Works blog Archived 2015-12-13 at the Wayback Machine
  20. Handbook of software architecture
  21. IEEE Software: On Architecture
  22. The Promise, The Limits, The Beauty of Software Archived 2011-03-28 at the Wayback Machine
  23. Master Planner: Fred Brooks Shows How to Design Anything
  24. NNDB profile
  25. Innovator: Fred Brooks
  26. The Grill: Fred Brooks (Computerworld)
  27. Business Insider (thumbnail)
  28. University of California, San Diego
  29. SIAM short course
  30. Recursivity (Blogspot)
  31. IBM Corporation. "Some key dates in IBM's operations in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA)" (PDF). IBM History. Retrieved July 24, 2016.

Further reading

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