Notes on Thomas J. Watson for Caltech’s Committee on Naming and Recognition

📄 Peter Sachs Collopy, Caltech, August 18, 2020

Thomas J. Watson Sr. was leader of IBM—carrying at various times the titles of general manager, CEO, president, and chairman—from 1914 to 1956. During this period, the company became a major player in the American and international data processing industries, setting the stage for its dominance of computing in the decades that followed.

Watson is a controversial figure principally because of IBM’s relationship with the government of Nazi Germany. The history of this relationship, and of Watson’s role in it, is complex. It is the subject of a bestselling 2001 book, IBM and the Holocaust, by journalist Edwin Black. Unfortunately, IBM and the Holocaust is generally regarded as hyperbolic and inaccurate by historians who research related subjects.

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Subjects: computing, engineering, politics, technology, technopolitics
Category: writing