Thomas J. Watson

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Thomas John Watson, Sr. (February 17, 1874 – June 19, 1956) was the president of International Business Machines (IBM),[1] who oversaw that company's growth into an international force from 1914 to 1956. Watson developed IBM's distinctive management style and corporate culture, and turned the company into a highly-effective selling organization, based largely around punched card tabulating machines. A leading self-made industrialist,[2] he was one of the richest men of his time and was called the world's greatest salesman when he died in 1956[citation needed].


Early life and career

Watson was very much the country boy. His father owned a modest lumber business located in Painted Post, 40 miles (64 km) southwest of Ithaca, in south central New York state, United States, North America. He worked on the family farm in East Campbell, New York and attended the District School Number Five in the late 1870s.[3]

Having given up his first job — teaching — after just one day, Watson took a year's course in accounting and business at the local Miller School of Commerce; finishing in May 1892. His second job as a US$6 a week bookkeeper was almost as brief as his first, giving way to a career as a peddler. He joined a traveling salesman, George Cornwell, peddling organs and pianos around the farms, for the local hardware store (William Bronsons). When Cornwell left, he continued alone, earning the sum of $10 per week. It was only after two years of this life that he realized he would be earning $70 per week if he were on a commission. The impact of his indignation on making this discovery was such that he upped stakes and moved from his familiar surroundings to the relative metropolis of Buffalo.[citation needed]

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