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Icons of Progress

The First Corporate Pure Science Research Laboratory

Corporations have conducted so-called research to fuel their invention of new products for generations. But Thomas J. Watson Sr.’s decision that IBM would do “pure” scientific research was an extraordinary leap of faith—and one that has generated extraordinary results. Breakthrough innovations by IBM scientists range from familiar transformative inventions like the hard drive or DRAM to a range of less familiar—but equally important—innovations in processor technology, relational databases, networking and more. They also include “pure” mathematical breakthroughs, such as fast Fourier transforms, and deep science, such as superconductivity.