Storage and cactus: IBM Tucson

Beginning in the 1970s, Tucson, Ariz., was for IBM and its customers the birthplace and home of the world's most technologically advanced tape drives and storage control units, along with numerous other key information-handling products.

The origin of that stream of storage innovation is marked by IBM's purchase of 931 acres of land southeast of Tucson in 1969. The company's General Products Division (GPD), then headquartered in San Jose, Calif., and with a facility in Boulder, Colo., had grown to the point where it needed a new site to accommodate IBM's development and manufacturing of tape and mass storage products at a central location. Tucson well fit the bill. And by 1980, it would be IBM's 17th plant/lab site in the United States, and the company's first new facility since the site in Manassas, Va., was completed in 1968.

John Carter, GPD Tucson's first general manager, remembers. "Tucson had a number of advantages that made it attractive for a plant/lab site. It was located relatively near the GPD headquarters in San Jose. It had excellent educational institutions. The climate, housing and transportation were all good. And it was an attractive area for our people to live."

IBM announced its decision to build a facility in Tucson on October 12, 1977. Ground was broken on March 21, 1978. Employees first began occupying the facility in August 1979. And 25 years ago -- three years after the announcement -- the site was officially dedicated on October 17, 1980.

Fireworks over IBM Tucson

Fireworks over IBM Tucson

Fireworks over IBM Tucson
Fireworks over IBM Tucson.
This exhibit celebrates the silver anniversary of that dedication and the site's subsequent quarter-century of achievements with a retrospective look at the early days of IBM Tucson -- both before that ceremony on a sunny October Friday in 1980 and in the years immediately thereafter -- together with a profile of the site today. You can begin your visit to IBM Tucson by entering the exhibit's Reference Room . Enjoy your tour.

IBM Tucson details