IBM has had business internationally since before the company had a name. Early leaders of the companies that would eventually become IBM (Mr Hollerith, Mr Flint, and Mr Watson) all were involved in doing international business.
In those early days, IBM had 70 foreign branches and subsidiaries worldwide. Competitors in the pre-World War II era included Remington Rand , Powers , Bull , NCR , Burroughs , and others.
* 1 Before and during 1945
* 1.1 European HQ * 1.2 Austria * 1.3 Belgium * 1.4 Bulgaria * 1.5 China * 1.6 Czechoslovakia * 1.7 France * 1.8 Germany * 1.9 The Netherlands * 1.10 Italy * 1.11 Japan * 1.12 Norway * 1.13 Poland * 1.14 Romania * 1.15 Russia / Soviet Union * 1.16 Sweden * 1.17 Switzerland * 1.18 Vietnam * 1.19 Yugoslavia
* 2 German Alien property laws and World War II * 3 After 1945 * 4 See also * 5 Notes
BEFORE AND DURING 1945
The European headquarters for IBM was originally in Paris. In 1935 Watson moved it to Geneva. The managers included Schotte, and later the controversial Werner Lier (see #Switzerland ).
IBM was represented in Austria by Furth State refused. By unknown means the subsidiary survived and continued to provide punch card based scheduling to the railroads. After the war, in 1945, the subsidiary was again allowed to transact with IBM, which filed a war compensation claim and requested access to its Sofia bank accounts.
Please also see: Holocaust in Bulgaria
IBM had an office in Shanghai. When Japan invaded during World War II, they took an IBM machine back to Kobe.
IBM opened an office in Prague circa 1933, a sales school in 1935,
and a card printing plant soon after. A big customer was the
Czechoslovakian State Railways . Schneider joined in 1937, moved to
Berlin, and back to Prague in 1939. In the war, custodian Hermann
Fellinger let E. Kuczek continue to run the company. The Czech
subsidiary supplied cards to IBM's German subsidiary, Dehomag, while
In 1919 CTR (which became IBM later) opened a sales office in Paris. In 1925 IBM France opened a factory and a branch. By 1932 it had 65 customers, including the Ministry of War. IBM France did not grow as fast as the other European subsidiaries. There were two competitors in those days, Powers and Bull. Watson moved on Bull by purchasing its Swiss rights and hiring away a Bull manager. Bull sued for unfair competition.
In 1936 Compagnie Electro-Comptabe de France (CEC) was created. Its customers were mostly banks, railroad and the military. CEC grew and built many factories in France.
Germany invaded France in 1940. The Nazis (especially their Maschinelles Berichtswesen department) took hundreds of CEC's machines for use elsewhere in the Reich. Many of CEC's operations were moved, as was the paper CEC needed for punchcards. CEC almost became part of a planned Nazi competitor to IBM, but the plan fell through. CEC's Nazi Kommissar was an SS man named Westerholt.
At this time CEC had offices in French colonies such as Algeria, Casablanca, and Indochina. CEC also worked with Vichy France's Demographic Department to perform a census. However the department was run by René Carmille , a secret agent of the French underground, who failed to punch the 'Jewish' hole on the census cards, and instead used his operation to mobilize French resistance troops in Algeria.
Before World War I, when IBM was called CTR, it had a business in Germany. During that war, the German government seized the company as 'enemy property'. However, Germany's alien custody laws protected enemy assets via an Alien Property Custodian. Thus CTRs assets were returned to it in good condition after the war.
In 1922 there was a rival company named Dehomag, run by Willy
Heidinger , who had brought Holleriths to Germany back in 1910.
There were also IBM subsidiaries called Degemag, Optima, and
Holgemag. They were merged into
The Nazi Party came to power in 1933. It banned foreign corporations from transmitting income back to their home countries. Dehomag's profits would sit in blocked bank accounts in for example Deutsche Bank und Disconto-Gesellschaft. However money did flow from Dehomag to IBM NY, in the form of 'royalty' payments (classified as a 'necessary expense').
Applications included payroll, inventory, personnel, finance,
scheduling, manufacturing supervision, and many others. Customers came
from all over government and industry, including
Watson authorized a lawsuit by Heidinger against competitor punchcard company Powers, on the basis that Powers was not 'German' enough, something that was problematic in the days of the Nazis. In 1934 Powers lost the case.
Heidinger was enthusiastic about Hitler's plans. At the opening of a new IBM facility, he spoke of Hitler as a physician who would 'correct' the 'sick circumstances' of the 'German cultural body', by using Dehomag's statistical surveys of the population. Watson congratulated him on his speech.
In 1947 an attempt was made to change the name to IBM Germany. In
IBM did a very large amount of business in the Netherlands (for example opening a card printing plant in 1936 ) but did not incorporate a subsidiary until Mar 1940. This was Watson Bedrijfsmachine Maatschappij N.V. of 34 Frederiksplein, Amsterdam.
In May 1940 Germany invaded the Netherlands. Dutch statistical expert Jacobus Lambertus Lentz (company motto: 'To Record is to Serve'), of the Dutch Population Registry, used IBM solutions to work on the Decree VO6/41 of 1941 which ordered all Jews to register at the census office. In 1941 IBM NY also sent 132 million punch cards to the Netherlands.
In December 1941 (after Japan bombed
The Italian subsidiary was named Watson Italiana. During the war it coordinated its work with Fellinger, custodian of German subsidiary Dehomag.
IBM entered the Japanese market in the 1925 and supplied adding machines to Mitsubishi Shipbuilding. Its competitor was Powers Tabulating Machine (via the Mitsumi Trading Company). Powers (later Remington Rand) would remain a stiff competitor, preferred by the Japanese government, until after World War II.
IBM had a rocky start as the 'rental' business model did not fit into Japanese business culture of the 1920s. Morimura Brothers tried to represent IBM but soon abandoned the idea. Kurosawa Trading became the representative from 1927 until 1937, when IBM opened an actual subsidiary. In the 1930s IBM had success with Japan Life Insurance and Imperial Life Insurance.
In 1937 Mr Holt and Mr Chevalerie visited and on their decision an
actual subsidiary was formed in Yokohama. It was called Nihon Watson
Tokei Kaikei Kikai (also called Nihon Watson Computing Machines,
Watson Tabulating Machines, or Japan Watson) and Chevalerie ran it
until 1941. The same year it opened a manufacturer in Yokohama that
would eventually make 'computer cards'. Japanese people were hired
as managers and employees, especially as war approached. Card
production was aided by advice from a man from
In 1939 IBM Japan was involved in the aircraft business. In that year punch-card production actually came on line.
When Japan invaded Indochina (Vietnam) in 1940, IBM Japan helped IBM
NY contact its
As the US-Japan war approached, Japan's government restricted imports of IBM equipment as well as exports of royalty money. Chevalerie was replaced by Mizushina Ko. Its assets were frozen in mid 1941. IBM Japan, cut off from IBM NY, continued to maintain and collect rental payments during the war. It produced punch cards until 1943. Its customers included insurance companies, government agencies, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the Japanese Army, and the Japanese Navy.
In 1942 it was declared an 'enemy company' and Jinushi Ennosuke
became custodian. In 1943 Tokyo Electric (
Mizushina Ko was jailed on spy suspicions but later worked for the
Navy who wanted help with coded communications. Ko worked at Kobe,
where Japan held machines seized from occupied territories, including
a tabulator the Americans lost to Japan at
During the war,
After the war ended in 1945, IBM negotiated with SCAP and others to get its property back. It also got 'royalty and dividends' money from JTM, for all the time JTM had been doing business with machinery it had seized from IBM. T. Kevin Mallen, IBM Far East General Manager, continued the process. IBM recovered the money Ennosuke had put away. IBM was still highly restricted by the Japanese government until a thaw circa the late 1950s.
The subsidiary in Norway was called IBM Norsk. Before the war, its stock ownership was put under Norwegian and other non-American men, to avoid Nazi anger (and possible takeover) after Watson's rejection of a medal Hitler had given him in the late 30s.
Norway was one of the countries under sway of German Dehomag custodian Fellinger, who helped manager Jens Tellefson deal with the Reich.
IBM Norsk's offices were blown up by saboteurs attempting to disrupt the Nazi Labor Office's slave labor campaign. However, Tellefson had kept backups. The office was moved after this incident.
IBM originally did not have a subsidiary in Poland but instead was represented by the Block-Brun agency. In 1934 Watson formed a subsidiary, Polski Hollerith. Black claims this was to compete with the Powers Corporation which had just gotten the Polish post office contract. In 1935 an office was started in Katowice in the Upper Silesia area of Poland. A card printing facility was set up in Warsaw. In 1937 Polski Hollerith was renamed Watson Business Machines sp. z. o.o. Customers included the Polish Postal Service, Polish Ministry of Railroads, and about 25 others.
In 1939 (after the German and Soviet invasions of Poland), the
business in Upper Silesia was given to IBM's German subsidiary,
Dehomag. Watson Business Machines sp. z. o.o. was reincorporated as
Watson Büromaschien GmbH, given a German manager, and given a new
area to work in: what the Nazis called the '
Watson Büromaschien and
After the war, IBM NY asked the State Department to protect its bank accounts in Bank Handlowy , Bank Emisyjny , and the post office.
IBM's Romanian subsidiary was Compania Electrocontabila Watson, incorporated in 1938 in Bucharest. Its customers included railroads, census, statistics offices, and the communication ministry. Bucharest had an IBM Swift Press card printing facility as well. The company helped the Romanian Central Statistical Institute in the Romanian Census of 1941 April, including the special 'Jewish census'. A problem occurred when there were not enough machines to do the job. Lier, with the help of US Commercial Attache Sam Woods and the Romanian Commercial Attache, got the Nazi government (including the Devisenstelle ) to ship some machines from German-occupied Poland to Romania. The census proceeded. In Dec 1941 the US entered the war and Romania came under General Rule 11 so interaction with IBM NY and IBM Geneva was restricted. After the war in 1945 IBM submitted requests to the State Department to secure its Romanian bank accounts, and sent compensation claims for damaged equipment.
RUSSIA / SOVIET UNION
Hollerith got a contract to work on the Russian census of Tsar Nicholas II in 1896. His Tabulating Machine Company would later become CTR, then IBM.
In the late 30s the Stalina Automobile Plant was a major user of IBM punch cards.
In 1937 (during the Stalin's
When Germany overran the Soviet Union during
* See also: Five-Year Plans for the National Economy of the Soviet Union#Information technology
The Swedish subsidiary was called Svenska Watson. It sold paper cards to other subsidiaries in 1939.
In 1935, European IBM Headquarters switched from Paris to Geneva.
IBM Geneva was run by Werner C. Lier. IBM NY internal investigations revealed Lier was lying and falsifying dates to cover up IBM Geneva trading with companies blacklisted by the State Department during the war. Lier was not fired. After the war, Lier tried to leave Geneva. He was denied a French transit visa and initially denied entry into the United States on grounds he was a danger to public safety. However Military Attache Barnwell Legge and Consul General Sam Woods helped him get around these problems and enter the US.
Black writes that IBM subsidiaries in neutral countries continued to supply cards to subsidiaries in enemy territory during the war. He also alleges that they traded with blacklisted companies and sometimes directly with Germany and Italy.
French IBM ran IBM's office in
Subsidiary Yugoslav Watson AG began before World War II. It was put
under a Nazi custodian during the war. V Bajkic kept running the
company. He coordinated with
GERMAN ALIEN PROPERTY LAWS AND WORLD WAR II
Germany operated under a system of 'alien property laws' and
'custodianship' during times of war. That is, if an enemy of a foreign
company owned property in Germany (or, in addition, in countries
Germany had taken over) during a war, Germany's government would
appoint a 'custodian' to look after the company and its property.
After the war, the company and its assets were to be returned to its
owner. This in fact had already happened to Mr Thomas J Watson during
World War I. And as World War II began, a similar regime came into
being, with the Nazi government of Germany appointing custodians over
foreign companies, including IBM. There were also sometimes management
changes. For example, IBM's German subsidiary
The US government banned US companies from dealing with subsidiaries in enemy territory during the war. It did this by many means, including the law known as General Rule 11. When that rule was lifted for a country, IBM frequently would ask for compensation claims for damaged equipment, it would often ask about company performance during the war for inclusion of employees into the Hundred Percent Club, and it would also try to secure the bank accounts that the subsidiary had used to store its money during the war.
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The Soviets took machines from the part of Germany that they occupied back to the Soviet Union after the war.
After the falling of the communist regime in December 1989, IBM started a commercial partnership with RBS Ltd. (Romanian Business Systems), one of the first private companies in the country. After consolidation of the market leader position, IBM acquired in 1995 RBS Ltd. and Dan Roman , CEO and owner of the company, became the first Country General Manager of IBM Romania.