How IBM Tackled Anti-Trust Action

When IBM was hauled up by the US DoJ for anti-trust infringements in 1952, old Tom Watson, then 78, deployed all his wiles to beat the rap,

The head of the DoJ’s anti-trust department, Graham Morrison, said that 116 people “everybody I had known since childhood” were organised by IBM to “call me at night and say: ’Don’t bring this suit against IBM. Mr Watson is an aged man. It will kill him’.”

IBM, of course, had used every trick in the book to block competition – incompatible punch cards, ruthless use of patents, leasing, rather than selling, machines so no secondhand market could develop etc etc.

“He had been a robber baron,” said Morrison, “he had been violating the anti-trust laws and getting away with it for years.”

Morrison told Watson he should really be bringing criminal charges against him, not just a civil suit.

At this point, said Morrison, Watson deployed an unexpected weapon: “He wept.”

Four years later, in 1956, the suit was was settled via a consent decree and Watson died.


One comment

  1. IBM had a huge written code of ethics for the lower orders, mainly, as one commentator said, “Watson had tried all the tricks in the books and found that honesty paid best.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *