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Icons of Progress

The First Salaried Workforce


At IBM, innovation through the mid-twentieth century was not always a matter of technological advancement. Thomas Watson Jr. was as much concerned about improving the welfare of his employees as he was about selling the IBM ® System/360 or increasing net profit.


Fair treatment and compensation were IBM hallmarks established by Thomas Watson Sr. In 1934, with the Great Depression hitting hard, he enacted his own "new deal," shifting factory employee compensation from piecework to an hourly wage basis. This was a portent of the reform his son would institute 24 years later. For thousands of IBM employees, the elimination of hourly wages certainly was about time.