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Issue No.04 - Oct.-Dec. (2013 vol.35)
pp: 32-47
This article is the memoir of an IBM salesman working in the Data Processing Division, 1974-1981. This was a Golden Age for account management, sales of mainframes, all during the period of IBM's antitrust suit. The author provides insights into the operations and culture of IBM's sales history.
Computers, Marketing and sales, Employment, Professional aspects,4300s, Computers, Marketing and sales, Employment, Professional aspects, branch offices, IBM Data Processing Division, IBM marketing representative, systems engineers, field engineers, IBM sales plan, System 370
James W. Cortada, ""Carrying a Bag": Memoirs of an IBM Salesman, 1974-1981", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.35, no. 4, pp. 32-47, Oct.-Dec. 2013, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2013.42
1. A.D. ChandlerJr.,Inventing the Electronic Century: The Epic Story of the Consumer Electronics and Computer Industries, Free Press, 2001, p. 8; and comments to the author Chandler made in the 1990s.
2. Personal correspondence, J.W. Hammond to J.W. Cortada16 Aug. 1974, author's personal files.
3. Personal correspondence, F.T. Cary to J.W. Cortada8 Nov. 1974, author's personal files.
4. Personal correspondence, J.W. Cortada to G.D. Austrian2 Oct. 1975, author's personal files.
5. CICS was installed on probably 99 percent of all mainframe computers using IBM's operating system to transfer data from one machine to another from the late 1960s to the present. The year I sat in the branch meeting not knowing what it was, IBM had sold 3,330 licenses, and when I left my sales job in 1981, it had sold 16,550: M. Campbell-Kelly From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog: A History of the Software Industry, MIT Press, 2003, p. 150. VTAM software sat in front of CICS and organized data to either enter or depart the computer in a specified format; it was quite essential.
6. The best available description of the activities of a salesman was written by a highly respected IBM sales executive: B. Rogers, The IBM Way: Insights into the World's Most Successful Marketing Organization, Harper & Row, 1986, pp.43-92, 123-160.
7. See, for example, The IBM Way T.J. WatsonJr. and P. Petre, Father Son & Co.: My Life at IBM and Beyond, Bantam, 1990; J. Maisonrouge, Inside IBM: A Personal History, McGraw-Hill, 1988 (first published as Manager International, Robert Lafont, 1985).
8. IBM Corp., Data Processing Division 1979 Sales/Systems Eng. Compensation Plan, Data Processing Division, IBM, 1979, p. 1, author's personal files.
9. This is an extraordinarily important source of information about IBM's products, services, contracts, and operating procedures in the field. Through the 1980s, everyone in sales had a personal copy and received updated pages to put in these three-ring spiral notebooks. Mine from the 1970s and 1980s came in two volumes; earlier editions fit into one. Today that information is available online. There are a few preserved at the IBM Corporate Archives in Somers, New York. When I became a marketing manager, on my first day on the job my branch manager, Buzz Waterhouse, came into my office and asked if I had my sales manual with me. I said, “Of course,” and then he ordered me to throw it in the trash can. His point was I needed to rely on my salesmen to know the products better than me; my job was not to do their job. I felt like an infantry soldier who had his rifle taken away from him or a teenager just having had my keys to the family car confiscated.
10. Data Processing Division 1979 Sales/Systems Engineering Compensation Plan, p. 2.
11. In 38 years at IBM I received only two paper checks, the first one in mid-October 1974 and the last one in February 2013. All the others were deposited directly to my checking account—an early use of this form of electronic transfer in the American economy.
12. “International Business Machines Corporation—Statement of Earnings and Deductions,” June and July 1981, author's personal files.
13. “Performance Planning, Counseling and Evaluation,” Nov. 1980, author's personal files.
14. Personal correspondence, T.R. Lautenbach to J.W. Cortada27 Feb. 1978; R.R. Tarrant to J.W. Cortada, Feb. 1978; D.R. McKay to J.W. Cortada27 Mar. 1978, F.T. Cary to J.W. Cortada7 Mar. 1978; author's personal files.
15. Yes, I have enough pins to make a really nice charm bracelet, but they are not in style any more.
16. Personal correspondence, R.T. Warstler to J.W. Cortada12 Dec. 1979, author's personal files.
17. Personal correspondence, T.H. Perrone to J.W. Cortada19 June 1981, author's personal files.
18. Ringing a bell in a branch office was a custom that went back to the dawn of the company; it may have started at NCR in the late 19th century; I am just not sure. Bell ringing continued at least until the start of the 1990s. I rang the bell when I was a branch manager.
19. , We had to be careful that we did not bring that toughness to dealing with our families because we also had to work out life-work balances and it was easy to almost put the family into the bucket of other problems to deal with, especially since they did not understand what we did and the pressures that came with the job.
20. E.W. Pugh, Building IBM: Shaping an Industry and Its Technology, MIT Press, 1995, p. 324.
21. Even a product company like IBM, however, generated some income and profits through investments of excess cash, interest and stock investments, and income from its pension plan, which could be claimed on its balance sheet. This kind of data was reported in the IBM Annual Reports, 1974–1981, copies in author's private files.
22. For information on product announcements and reorganizations, I drew from an unpublished 76-page “IBM Chronology, 1885–2006,” IBM Corporate Archives, Somers, NY.
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