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A History of IBM In Florida

Written by wyncode on 13th June 2014, 12:14 PM

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IBM came to Florida in 1967, setting up shop in Boca Raton with 400 employees on a tract of land covering 550 acres that the company purchased at the end of 1966. In 1967, Florida Atlantic University was opened in Boca Raton, and the 1-95 route through the city was planned. Those factors made it an exciting time to be in Boca Raton, and IBM’s Florida office capitalized on that.

It was IBM’s Boca Raton-based engineers who invented the IBM 5150 in 1981. The 5150 was the world’s first pre-assembled personal computer, known as “the Acorn.” The use of computers in personal life and in business were revolutionized by this new machine. South Florida has long been a center of technological innovation and development for IBM, starting with the birth of the PC. Over 1,800 patents have been issued to IBM inventors in Florida since 1971.

On the back of the exciting development of the IBM 5150, the company had over 10,000 employees in its Boca Raton location during the 1980s. The IBM complex grew to 3.6 million square feet in 40 buildings on the original tract of land west of 1-95. However, much of this population was relocated to other locations in Texas and North Carolina in 1996, when a new tax on businesses was proposed and the market for technology had changed quite dramatically.

But the company’s departure did not mean the end for technology firms in South Florida. Many IBM employees stayed when the company departed, founding other companies and creating new technology products. Firms like Citrix Systems, Motorola, RIM, and many others are still located in the South Florida region that IBM first conquered.

IBM still maintains a presence in the region, with locations in the Boca Raton area as well as elsewhere in Florida. About 1,500 IBM employees remain in South Florida, in offices in West Palm Beach, Coral Gables, and Fort Lauderdale in addition to Boca Raton. The company remains connected to FAU, as it has been since 1967, as well as other local universities and organizations in the South Florida area.

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