Watson, Thomas, Jr.

Watson, Thomas (John), Jr.

(1914–93) business executive; born in Dayton, Ohio. Son of the founder of International Business Machines (IBM), he joined the firm in 1937, then served with the U.S. Air Force in World War II (1941–45). During the late 1940s, his father began grooming him to take over IBM and he became convinced that the company should enter the computer market. He was named president of IBM (1952–61) and he placed the company at the center of the industry. As chairman (1961–71) he committed IBM to a new line of computers in 1962, the S/360s, which revolutionized the industry. He was chairman of the executive committee (1971–79) and remained active at IBM into the 1980s, with two years out (1979–81) to serve as U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.