A Century of IBM in Canada

In 2017, IBM is 100 years old in Canada. This century has been driven by innovation that matters to our clients, our people, our country and the world. We are proud to be part of a company that has dedicated a century to finding solutions to contemporary challenges with a vision of the future. Innovation, transformation, and pioneering have always been part of our culture. This second century of IBM will continue to change the world.

Learn more about IBM's history in Canada.

IBM is a company that reinvents itself constantly. From cheese slicers, time recorders, weigh scales to the punch card, typewriters and personal computers, we have always had the needs of our clients in mind. IBM launched the concept of e-business, which has changed consumer buying behaviours. We inaugurated the on-demand era, which gave flexibility and significantly increased access to technology services across all market segments. We continue to work with communities to apply technology to the development of smarter cities, with more efficient systems of public safety, traffic, education, and health.

And we have recently inaugurated a new revolution: the age of cognitive computing, in which systems understand natural language. These cognitive systems are also called artificial intelligence, precisely because they approach the human way of thinking, interacting and learning, extracting knowledge from large volumes of unstructured data, and from diverse sources such as text, images and video. The impact on society and the business world is enormous. We want to help human beings to expand their knowledge potential exponentially, and to develop new capacities, driving all of us to a new cycle of innovation. We have always created and applied technology to serve and help people to develop themselves, their businesses, and their country – we will continue to do so with pride into our second century.

A History of progress by the decade

 

 

 

 

1910s

1910s

]In 1911, the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR) was established in response to the demands of Canada's booming economy. It sold commercial scales and industrial time recorders to meat and cheese slicers, along with tabulators and punched cards. In 1914, Thomas J. Watson joined the company as general manager. Shortly thereafter, Watson implemented new business tactics that have defined the company ever since – a positive outlook, good customer service, and the slogan "THINK". CTR opened its Toronto branch plant in 1917 under the name of International Business Machines Co., Ltd. – the first time in IBM’s history that the new name was used.

Source: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/international-business-machines-corporation-ibm/

1920s

1920s

IBM continued to expand across Canada in the years following World War I. In 1921, the first sales meeting was held in Toronto. By October, IBM had offices in Halifax, Hamilton, London, Montreal, Northern Ontario, Quebec, Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg. The company garnered an impressive client list, including companies in the insurance, industrial, automotive, transportation industries and public sector, with offerings such as the IBM Tabulating Machine. The punched card continued to improve in this decade, and served as the major medium for storing, sorting and reporting data well into the next decades.

1930s

1930s

Despite the Great Depression, IBM Canada managed to grow. IBM was among the first corporations to provide group life insurance 1934), survivor benefits (1935), and paid vacations (1937). In 1932, in response to an increased demand for tabulating equipment, the first Service Bureaus opened in Montreal and Toronto — operations began in Hamilton, Ontario shortly thereafter. The first IBM Electromatic Typewriter was sold to a Toronto company in 1934. In the following year, 14 additional machines were sold. In 1938, IBM Canada opened its 36 King Street offices to serve as a Sales Office and Headquarters for the growing firm.

1940s

1940s

During the war years, IBM World Trade Corp. formed to handle all IBM business outside the US. The company began its foray into computers and introduced the world to the Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator in the 1940s. In 1941, IBM Canada opened its first office in Calgary, then another in Kitchener in 1947. A government department purchased the first IBM Electric Executive Typewriter in Canada in 1944 which featured proportional spacing.

1950

1950s

The 1950s was another decade of firsts. The first IBM Education Centre opened in Toronto in 1950 with another in Montreal by 1957. In 1951 a new head office and plant opened at Don Mills in Toronto with an expansion in 1954 doubling its space to consolidate manufacturing operations. The first commercial computer in Canada, IBM 650, was installed by an insurance company in 1956, and was also used to speed national election results. Other products of the time included the IBM Timer used at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, electric typewriter, IBM 705 data processor, 101 Electronic Statistical Machine, IBM Job Cost Recorder, IBM 8200 Time Punch, IBM 305 RAMAC (Random Access Memory Accounting System) and IBM Mark Sensing to speed billing work.

1960s

1960s

IBM’s first Canadian software lab opened in 1967 with 55 employees. It’s now the largest software development organization in Canada with eight sites across the country with over 3900 employees – all focused on technical excellence. The 1960s also saw the first Selectric Typewriter sold in Calgary. Businesses, academic and government institutions began using computers, electric typewriters, dictating equipment, electronic typing calculators, punched card accounting equipment for everything from the production of cars, to research, to education, to sports and election results, to the census. In 1969 International Business Machines Co. Limited became IBM Canada Ltd. / IBM Canada Ltée.

1970s

1970s

The 1970s brought expansion of not only IBM Canada’s mission, but its territory with responsibility for Caribbean North District. The Bromont, Quebec production plant opened in 1972 doubling its size by 1974. From creating components for keyboards and certain types of computer memory, to Selectric typewriter assembly, to the latest photolithographic processes for specialized chips, Bromont continues to innovate to stay competitive. IBM pioneered other innovations in the 1970s: an online banking system linking branches across Canada to central computers for account updates; and the first supermarket system in the world installed in Dorval, Quebec – an electronic system that scans and registers each purchase. And in 1976, IBM handled the results of the Montreal Olympics.

1980s

1980s

Thanks to the birth of the IBM Personal Computer (or PC), the IBM brand entered homes, small businesses, and schools. In 1983, a new IBM Canada headquarters building opened at 3500 Steeles in Markham Ontario (across the street from the current location). In 1988, Canada was the host nation for the Calgary Winter Olympics with IBM as its main sponsor. IBM Canada had also participated in EXPO 86 in Vancouver. The late 1980s further cemented the importance of IBM Canada’s manufacturing plant in Bromont, Quebec. By 1989, every system manufactured by IBM contained at least one component produced at the Bromont Plant. Today, IBM has invested more than $1.6 billion in the plant helping to make Bromont one of the largest techno-cities in the country.

Sources: https://www-03.ibm.com/employment/ca/en/br_history.shtml
https://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/history/decade_1980.html

1990s

1990s

The 1990s was a decade of revolutionary change of direction for the company. IBM Canada played a key role in developing software used in NASA’s space shuttle program. In 1991, the Centre for Advanced Studies (CAS) was established at the IBM Toronto Lab. IBM CAS promotes and supports collaborative research and educational projects between IBM and local academic institutions — today there are 20 centres around the world. The company opened a new headquarters building at 3600 Steeles Avenue in Markham, Ontario, and the Pacific Development Centre in Vancouver.

2000s

2000s

The decade began with a Y2K-related drop off in customer demand and the collapse of the dot-coms. With the acquisition of Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC) Consulting, the company solidified its transformation from a hardware/software business to a services and solutions-focused one. During this time, the Toronto Lab led the newly formed Globalization Centre of Competency to ensure that IBM software met the language and cultural needs of its customers around the world. The company opened its IBM Centre for e-business Innovation in Toronto, later expanding to Vancouver and Edmonton. IBM focused even more on its clients to generate innovative business solutions in Canada. In 2002, IBM Canada and Air Canada began piloting wireless mobile IBM self-service kiosks to expedite passenger check-ins at Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson Airport.

The Ontario Cancer Institute and scientists at Princess Margaret Hospital and University Health Network became the first in Canada to use IBM’s World Community Grid to accelerate the pace of cancer research. The University of Toronto’s SciNet Consortium and IBM built Canada’s most powerful and energy-efficient supercomputer. The Canadian and Québec governments awarded $178 million in funding to Université de Sherbrooke to build the Centre d'innovation en microélectronique in partnership with IBM and DALSA.

Sources: https://www.ibm.com/news/ca/en/2009/09/10/x488589x07210w03.html
https://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/history/decade_2000.html

2010s

2010s

Partnerships with governments, universities, research institutions, hospitals, and businesses in all industries large and small are flourishing and continuously inspiring innovation that matters taking both IBM and its clients to the next era. From smarter cars, energy, mining, and cities, to high performance computing for medical research in neuroscience, cardiology, and pediatrics, to environmental data analysis – big data, cloud and cognitive computing are once again transforming IBM’s mission. Along with long-time partners and new incubators and startups, IBM embraces its century of progress, and continuously reinvents for the future.