If you tuned in to Austin radio station KUT this morning, you might have heard me talking about my package of stories published over the weekend on IBM and its 50-year history in Austin.
Exactly 50 years ago today, IBM built a typewriter manufacturing plant in Austin.
It was a big deal at the time because Austin had an anemic private sector, and almost no tech companies. After IBM decided to put its plant here, it served as a catalyst for other tech companies to call Austin home.
You can listen to the Texas Standard interview here:
In speaking with Lauren Silverman from KERA, who is this week’s Texas Standard host, I remembered a few interesting IBM factoids that didn’t make it into our story.
In case you really want to nerd out on IBM Austin history, here are a few of those tidbits that weren’t included:
- IBM used to employ a doctor and a nurse at its Austin campus, according to former IBM administrative manager Lillian Davis. She was talking about a time in the mid 1980s, before extravagant perks at tech companies were commonplace.
- The typewriter that IBM manufactured in Austin was not actually the type of Selectric that most people are familiar with that were used by everyday consumers. The Austin site manufactured Selectric Composers, which are heavier-duty typewriters used by commercial printers.
- There is a ton of Watson artificial intelligence work currently being done at IBM’s Austin site and the company even has an entire room devoted to showing off Watson capabilities to tour groups, with a talking robot.
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