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T. Vincent Learson June 1971- 1972


 IBM CEOs: Leadership ⇔ Challenges ⇔ Transformations in the IT Century

Vincent Learson June 1971- 1972
(Highlights – Milestones – Excerpts)

“Except for Tom and Dick Watson, the inheritors, Learson became the most dominant, domineering, and self-confidently commanding figure in the whole corporation. … A scientist saw him mastering the toughest, hardest job any IBM man ever had, in possession of incredible self-control. … Known among IBM salesmen as the “hatchet man”, he has fired more men then moderately sized companies employ.” (“THINK” by William Rodgers, published in 1969). 

May 1971: DPD unveils the IBM 3270 information display system. Application contexts: CICS, IMS, information retrieval, time-sharing, data-entry and System /370 operator consoles.

With Learsons’s grudging approval Cary went ahead with AQUARIUS (A Query and Retrieval Interactive utility System) a prototype operation that linked computers and terminals and was supposed to pave the way for IBM’s commercial ventures into DDP.

September 17, 1971: RCA exits the computer business after GE selling its computer division to Sperry Rand.

IBM began producing computer systems using a new form of magnetic storage medium: IBM Diskette.

November 15, 1971: start of the micro-revolution – Intel 4004 4-bit central processing unit (CPU) released by Intel Corporation.
Speeds of a single chip have gone from 0.06 MIPS to over 336.000 MIPS. 

1972: IBM launches 15 Ph.D. fellowships for minorities and women.

Vin Learson forms the Corporate Responsibility Committee to monitor IBM's performance in social responsibility.

The IBM System/370 Model 195 is announced, the most powerful computer to date in IBM's product line.

IBM logo designed by Paul Rand.  

In late 1972 Vin Learson negotiated the antitrust-deal with CDC to settle out of court which cost IBM a small fortune. 

The computerized index now became the property of IBM: we got the so-called work product from their lawyers and gave them hours.
That night Bruce Bromley came to my office: “You’ve got to destroy that index right away.” Business sense dictated my answer: “Burn it.”
They destroyed the index that very night. (Watson in “Father, Son & Co.”) 

The Data Processing Division announces on January 22, 1973 the IBM 3740 data entry system and the IBM Diskette.

Learson appreciated his situation and stepped down gracefully in early 1973, to be succeeded by Frank Cary.

John Opel was named to Cary’s old post as president.

Selected Statistics 1969-1973.

Following his retirement, Learson remained a director  through 1975, and from 1977 through 1983.

At a retirement dinner in late November 1973, Tom Watson, Jr., offered these comments on four of his key associates in IBM.
Louis LaMotte, T. Vincent Learson, Arthur K. Watson and Al Williams. T. Vincent Learson:
“From Vin Learson, I learned that if you really tried hard enough you could accomplish almost anything. Vin got those first computers of ours working and in the customers' offices. Most important of all, this meant that the customers began to pay the bills so we were able to build others.

“The only ‘wild duck’ incapable of being tamed.” (IBM and the Computer Revolution” by Robert Sobel published in 1981).