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IBM Scientific Centers

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The IBM Research Division is IBM's well-known research organization, whose worldwide laboratories are controlled thematically and content-wise directly from its headquarters in Armonk, USA. What is less known is that for several decades IBM maintained a second research organization, the IBM Scientific Centers, which, in contrast to the Research Division laboratories, was decentralized. Each of these IBM Scientific Centers was an integral part of the IBM organization in its region or country, was financed by it and ultimately controlled its thematic focus (see [1], chapter 1.1 "Mission and Environment").


The history of the IBM Scientific Centers began in 1964 with the founding of the first four centers in the USA (marked with * in the list below) and has subsequently grown to 26 centers worldwide in 1989.[2] Their story ended in the early 1990s. While the research laboratories of the IBM Research Division had to be very restrictive with regard to scientific cooperation projects with non-IBM institutions for patent reasons and other reasons, technical-scientific and application-oriented cooperation projects with universities and other public research institutions were an important part of IBM's mission scientific centers.

The IBM national organizations and the IBM Scientific Centers were not completely free and independent in their decisions regarding their content orientation, however. The general research topics of these institutions were agreed with the respective IBM Chief Scientist of IBM. and this ensured, among other things, by means of regular assessments by international expert teams, that the scientific substance and relevance of this research corresponded to IBM's high quality standards for scientific work.

In the first half of the 1990s, IBM fell into the greatest crisis in its company history.[3][4] Enormous slumps in sales in almost all areas led to austerity measures that successively led to their closure or realignment and conversion worldwide. By the 2000s, the term IBM Scientific Centers had completely disappeared.

Mission of the IBM Scientific Centers[edit]

The task of an IBM Scientific Center was to contribute with its research, its expertise and its cooperation projects for the benefit of the respective country and thus to contribute to the reputation of IBM in this country or this region (see [1], chapter 1.1 "Mission and Environment"). Because of this, the spectrum of activities of such a center was often very broad. For example, some research groups could deal with topics that can be assigned to basic[5] or product-oriented research [6], while others dealt with application-oriented research topics, for example satellite-based soil classification.[7]

Descriptions of the thematic focus and research projects as well as a selection of references to the scientific publications of the individual centers, as far as they were still alive in 1989, can be found in [2]. A comprehensive description of the evolution, projects, and success stories of the IBM Heidelberg Scientific Center from its very beginning and to shortly before its end can be found in [1]. - The following list of IBM Scientific Centers is derived from [2] and supplemented by some links to information sources available on the Internet.

List of IBM Scientific Centers[edit]

  • Bari, Italy (1969–1979)
  • Bergen, Norway (since 1986)[8]
  • Brasilia, Brasil (1980–1986)
  • Cairo, Egypt (since 1983)
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA (since 1964) *[9]
  • Caracas, Venezuela (since 1983)
  • Grenoble, France (1967–1973)[10]
  • Haifa, Israel (since 1972)[11]
  • Heidelberg, Germany (since 1968)[1][12]
  • Houston, Texas (1966–1974)
  • Kuwait City, Kuwait (since 1980)
  • Los Angeles, California, USA (since 1964) *
  • Madrid, Spain (since 1972)
  • Mexiko City, Mexiko (since 1971)
  • New York City (1964–1972) *
  • Palo Alto, California, USA (since 1964) *[13]
  • Paris, France (since1977)
  • Peterlee, United Kingdom (1969–1979)
  • Pisa, Italy (since 1971)
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA (1972–1974)
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brasil (since 1986)
  • Rom, Italy (since 1979)
  • Tokyo, Japan (since 1970)
  • Venice, Italy (1969–1979)[14]
  • Wheaton, Maryland, USA (1967–1969)
  • Winchester, United Kingdom (since 1979)



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Blaser, Albrecht (2001). The IBM Heidelberg Science Center: User Oriented Informatics and Computers in Science. Sindelfingen, Germany: Albrecht Blaser. ISBN 3-920799-23-2. Search this book on
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Kolsky, H. G.; MacKinnon, R. A. (1989). "History and contributions of the IBM Scientific Centers". IBM Systems Journal. 28 (4): 502–524. doi:10.1147/sj.284.0502. ISSN 0018-8670.
  3. History of IBM / 1993–2018: IBM's near disaster and rebirth
  4. Baker, Colin (September 14, 2022). "How IBM Crashed, Then Rebooted With a $24 Billion Comeback". Retrieved February 9, 2023.
  5. Jaeschke, G.; Schek, H. J. (1982). "Remarks on the algebra of non first normal form relations". Proceedings of the 1st ACM SIGACT-SIGMOD symposium on Principles of database systems - PODS '82. Los Angeles, California: ACM Press. pp. 124–138. doi:10.1145/588111.588133. ISBN 978-0-89791-070-5. Unknown parameter |s2cid= ignored (help) Search this book on
  6. Dadam, Peter; Linnemann, Volker (1989). "Advanced Information Management (AIM)" (PDF). IBM Systems Journal. 28 (4): 661–681. doi:10.1147/sj.284.0661.
  7. Bernstein, Ralph. "Concept for a Future Ground Control Data Set for Image Correction" (PDF). NASA Technical Reports Server. U.S. Government, NASA, 17. November 1981.
  8. Gaffney, Patrick (1988). "IBM Bergen Scientific Centre and the International Conference on Vector and Parallel Computing". The International Journal of Supercomputing Applications. 2 (4): 3–4. doi:10.1177/109434208800200401. Retrieved 2023-11-16.
  9. "Cambridge Scientific Center". Retrieved 2023-11-16.
  10. "L'informatique à Grenoble". Centre IBM (in French). Retrieved 2023-11-16.CS1 maint: Unrecognized language (link)
  11. "Think - A History of Progress - 1890s to 2001" (PDF). IBM History. p. 62. Retrieved 2023-11-16. The IBM Haifa Research Lab opens as the IBM Scientific Center
  12. "Zehn Jahre wissenschaftliches Zentrum der IBM in Heidelberg". Computerwoche (in German). Retrieved 2023-11-16.CS1 maint: Unrecognized language (link)
  13. "IBM Palo Alto Scientific Center". Retrieved 2023-11-15.
  14. "Think - A History of Progress - 1890s to 2001" (PDF). IBM History. p. 51. Retrieved 2023-11-16. IBM’s Scientific Center in Venice, Italy, joins a multi-institutional study aimed at preventing the eventual destruction of the city by high tides.

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