Thomas Watson, Scientist and computer entrepreneur

“Really big people are, above everything else, courteous, considerate and generous – not just to some people in some circumstances – but to everyone all the time.”

“The way to succeed is to double your error rate.”

“If you stand up and be counted, from time to time you may get yourself knocked down. But remember this: A man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good.”

Thomas Watson Sr. (born 1874, died 1956) and Thomas Watson Jr. (born 1914, died 1993). Watson Sr. took over the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Co. (later to become International Business Machines) in 1914. In the next 42 years at the helm of IBM, he would create a model for the modern corporation, grounded in both customer and employee loyalty. He also built a global corporation based on strong sales techniques and offering customers valuable—and proprietary—products. The younger Watson, however, recognized how important electronic computing would be in the second half of the 20th century. He would lead America’s transition from punch-card tabulators to circuit-based computers, and eventually to PCs.

Watson Sr. built up a global corporation from nothing by investing in his employees and research. His son built on that success to develop and market a technology that transformed the world.


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