Old IBM Ad: “150 Extra Engineers!”

Alternate titles for this ad: 150 Receding Hairlines! 150 Giant Foreheads!

IBM "Electronic Calculator" ad: "150 Extra Engineers"

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Here’s the text of the ad:

150 Extra Engineers

An IBM Electronic Calculator speeds through thousands of intricate computations so quickly that on many complex problems it’s like having 150 EXTRA Engineers.

No longer must valuable engineering personnel…now in critical shortage…spend priceless creative time at routine repetitive figuring.

Thousands of IBM Electronic Business Machines…vital to our nation’s defense…are at work for science, industry and the armed forces, in laboratories, factories and offices, helping to meet urgent demands for greater production.


Steve Jobs Giving Big Blue the One-Finger Salute


Courtesy of Edible Apple, here’s Apple co-founder Steve Jobs giving the finger to the IBM logo in a photo that appears to date from “sometime in the early 80s.”

If you weren’t around or too young to remember those times, the rivalry wasn’t between Apple and Microsoft (in fact, the AppleSoft BASIC in the Apple ][ series of computers was produced under a Microsoft license), but between Apple and IBM, who introduced their Personal Computer, a.k.a. “PC” in 1981. We knew that this rivalry would become quite fierce when Apple fired the first PR salvo with this ad welcoming IBM to the personal computer industry, whose big players at the time were Apple, Radio Shack and Commodore:


I can’t remember if it was former Apple Evangelist (and one of my role models) Guy Kawasaki or former Apple UI guru Bruce “Tog” Tognazzini who made the astute observation that the PC was the responsibility of IBM’s “Entry-Level Systems” division, which it implied that the PC was something you’d use until you decided that you wanted a real computer.

Apple’s relationship with IBM has always been a little bit rocky, first with the rivalry and then with their ill-fated alliance in the 1990s. This alliance produced only one thing I would consider a “semi-success” – the PowerPC chip, which was completely dumped by the end of 2006 – and a number of flops that came from the Taligent and Kaleida projects, including “Pink”, “Blue” and ScriptX (which, unlike Pink and Blue, actually made it to the :half-baked” stage; I actually got to noodle with during my early days at Mackerel Interactive Multimedia). The alliance, which was meant to counter the threat of an increasingly powerful Microsoft never quite made sense to me, nor did it to Guy Kawasaki, who once likened it to two people getting married because they hate the same person.

The nature of the IBM/Apple relationship lives on in the current legal battle between IBM and Apple over Mark Papermaster’s hire, which is why I’m sure Edible Apple found the photo interesting.