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IBM Technical Journals

Special report: Celebrating 50 years of the IBM Journals
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Over the years the IBM Journals have published scholarly technical papers describing new and innovative technologies which have had profound effects on the development of the information technology industry. In January 1957 this emphasis on innovation and breadth of coverage was set forth on the first page of the first issue of the IBM Journal of Research and Development, where Thomas J. Watson, Jr. then president of IBM, wrote:

“The new IBM Journal of Research and Development is a strong indication of the increasing emphasis we at IBM want to place in the future on fundamental science and technology. … I hope and believe that the IBM Corporation will make real contributions to the expanding perimeters of knowledge in the physical sciences and mathematics as well as in the more specialized areas of data processing, computer technology, and communications” [see: Message From The President].

While the IBM Journals were never intended to report all research and development efforts, they have published selected papers in all areas of work, ranging from fundamental science and mathematics through hardware and software development and implementation to computing systems, data storage, and the applications of information technology in business solutions.

The evolution of key IBM information technology up to 1981 was described in a special 25th anniversary edition of the IBM Journal of Research and Development [Volume 25, No. 5, pp. 353-846 (1981)] which clearly demonstrated the breadth of research and development anticipated by T. J. Watson, Jr. This issue contains overview papers which describe the architecture and development of early IBM computers from the design of an experimental electronic stored-program machine in 1949 through System/360™ machines and extensions. Other papers in the issue describe the evolution of software technology for operating systems, memory management, databases, and programming languages. Key manufacturing technologies for semiconductor logic, memory, and packaging as well as magnetic recording and printing technologies are reviewed. This issue also includes papers on fundamental scientific contributions to semiconductor physics and materials science, electronic structure theory, phase transitions, and algebraic complexity theory.

Throughout its history, the IBM Systems Journal has been devoted to software, software systems, and services, focusing on concepts, architectures, and the uses of software. In 1999 the Journal published a special double issue [IBM Systems Journal 38, Nos. 2&3 (1999)] consisting of reprinted papers from the Journal which described milestones or turning points in the evolution of computing. The selected papers were introduced through general commentaries on how users interact with computers, on software development, on systems architectures, and on how information technology can transform business.

The IBM Journal of Research and Development reports advances in the fundamental science, mathematics, and engineering of information technology, focusing on how components and systems are designed and built. In 2000 the Journal published a special double issue [IBM Journal of Research and Development 44, No. 1/2 (2000)] on the evolution of information technology from the beginning of the Journal in 1957. This issue included reprints of 27 papers from the Journal highlighting important contributions to systems architectures, design automation, data storage, manufacturing technologies for solid-state devices, and basic science.

In this report celebrating 50 years of IBM Journals, the editors have examined citation rates, consulted experts in various fields, and reviewed the earlier retrospective issues in light of the present state of the information technology industry. The result is a compilation of significant papers published in the Journals across the wide span of key technical areas which characterize this industry. Each paper is accompanied by comments which indicate its significance. For simplicity, the papers have been placed in the following categories: applications of information technology, storage systems and databases, computing system architectures, computing methodologies, software, hardware design and implementation, device materials and processes, and fundamental science and mathematics.

John J. Ritsko's signature

John J. Ritsko
IBM Journal of Research and Development
IBM Systems Journal

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