IBM’s first patent was U.S. patent #998,631 and was filed on October 11, 1907 and became a granted patent on July 25th 1911. The patent is for a ‘perforating machine’, essentially a punch card system used for tabulation. It’s an innovation that has a long history of successors all the way up to modern storage age. While the patent system in the U.S. is currently the subject of debate, it is also a system that has worked well for IBM over the last 100 years.
“Patents are a benchmark of innovation, it’s not the only benchmark but I’ll tell ya it’s a heck of a benchmark,” IBM Fellow and VP of Innovation, Bernie Meyerson told InternetNews.com. “It forces you to rigorously say that you are doing things that are foundationally different.”
IBM is one of the world’s leading patent holders with over 150,000 patents. In 2010 IBM received 5,896 U.S. patents. And it all began with that first patent back in 1911.
“The very first patent was the foundation of early automated computing, where the punch card tabulation system is the heart of efficient data processing,” Meyerson said. “Although it doesn’t seem like mind numbing technology today, the fact of the matter is this was a game changer a hundred years ago.”