Brain Pickings

They Were There: Errol Morris Spotlights Computer Pioneers

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We tend to think of the evolution of technology as this disembodied force that changes, for better or for worse, the way we live. But, in fact, it’s the product of individual innovators and the companies who unite them. Among the most monumental tech innovators of our time is International Business Machines, known today simply as IBM. Founded in 1911, IBM is responsible for inventions such as the first school time control system, the first electronic keypunch and the first large-scale electro-mechanical calculator. For its centennial this year, the company has released a duo of documentaries exploring its legacy and the history of seminal technologies that shaped the course of contemporary computing.

They Were There by legendary documentary director Errol Morris spotlights the pioneers who “changed the way the world works,” quite literally, with music by none other than Philip Glass.

100 X 100 chronicles a century of technological achievements, presented by 100 people, each recounting the IBM achievement recorded in the year he or she was born, moving from the oldest to the youngest — a refreshingly innovative storytelling device, layered on top of some fascinating historical trivia.

For more on the history of IBM, one of the most wide-reaching innovators of our time, we highly recommend The Maverick and His Machine: Thomas Watson, Sr. and the Making of IBM — the remarkable story of America’s first celebrity CEO told through rare, never-before-explored documents and riveting tales of optimism amidst chaos.

HT Coudal

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