The roadmap for IBM’s modern design ethos was set out in the 1950s with the hiring of design consultant Eliot Noyes, who’d worked at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He brought influences like Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen and Isamu Noguchi to bear on the company’s industrial design, and hired Paul Rand to create the IBM visual identity in 1956. This move was repeated with the refresh in 1972.
Discover the evolution of the IBM logo below:
Willard R Bundy was an inventor of time-recording devices. Set up in Auburn, New York, his firm became the International Time Recording Company and used this logo in 1888. It would later merge with another constituent of today’s IBM.
In 1891, the Computing Scale Company was using this wonderfully curvaceous logo. The firm was founded by businessmen Edward Canby and Orange O Ozias in Dayton, Ohio. They patented a design for a computing scale they’d invented, and began commercial production of the product. CSC was another seed that IBM grew from.
The International Time Recording and Computing Scale companies were merged in 1911 to form the Computing- Tabulating-Recording Company, or CTR. In 1914, Thomas J Watson Sr became its general manager. Emphasising engineering and research, he came up with the motto THINK.
In 1924, CTR changed its name to International Business Machines Corporation, and the ornate letterwork of its logo was left behind for a more modern sans-serif typeface. The company’s international intentions were represented clearly in the logo, which took on a shape hinting at a globe.
During the 1940s and 50s, the company moved from mechanical calculating devices to early electronic technologies, and the confidence it gained through technological advancement was reflected in a flat, outline logotype to replace the globe-shaped logo. The typeface used was Beton Bold.
Chief Executive Tom Watson Jr brought a new design ethos to IBM. He put design consultant Eliot Noyes in charge of design. Paul Rand was hired to renew the company's branding. He came up with this slab serif logotype based on City Medium, giving the identity a solid feel.
The solid look of his first logotype for IBM was adapted to appear more dynamic when Rand revisited it in 1972. The basic design remained the same, but the letters were rendered in horizontal stripes, reminiscent of the scan lines of the cathode ray tube monitors of the day. IBM has used this logo ever since.
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