By Paul Carroll
Presents the interior tale of the increase and fall of IBM, providing a devastating examine of company paperwork, loss of foresight, and decline. Reprint. 75,000 first printing. travel. LJ. NYT. okay.
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Extra info for Big Blues: The Unmaking of IBM
5 Tom Junior, in particular, became a handful. Bom in 1914, “Young Tom ”— the nam e that would stick with him throughout his life, even as he headed into his late seventies— got him self suspended from school for taking what he called the “stink glands” from numerous skunks and putting them in his grade school’s ventilation system, forcing the school to close for the day. Known as “Terrible Tommy” Watson, he needed six years and three schools to make it through high school. M ade horribly insecure by his overbearing father, Tom Junior says he got into college only because his powerful parent imposed on the presi dent of Brown University (a move that has since won Brown tens of millions of dollars in donations from Tom Junior).
He tried bookkeeping, but that, too, left him cold. 1 Although initially he fumbled, he proved to be a good mimic and absorbed the techniques he witnessed at Billy Sunday camp meetings and on the C hautauqua lecture circuit well enough that he bridged the gap betw een the rural world of the nineteenth century and the technological, suburban world of the present. 2 After achieving limited success with pianos, often taking a pig or other livestock in trade, W atson moved on to selling securities.
Someone running a developm ent project had to listen as all other parts of the company put in their two cents, knowing that any one of them could keep his product from getting out the door, but Estridge tried hard not to play along. Now that he had a flop on his hands, his bosses were wondering w hether he was worth the trouble. The only thing that kept Estridge from making his exit before he ever entered the world stage is that some IBM salesman in Connecticut sold State Farm on the idea of using thousands of Series l ’s to run its insurance offices around the country.