In 1967, they introduced the world to floppy disks. In 1969, they helped land the first two humans on the moon. In 1970, they came out with the hard disk. There were a host of other inventions to IBM Research Labs’ credit — the ATM, the portable computer, the magnetic strip card, the technology behind laser eye surgery and the smartphone. The world’s first corporate laboratory, set up by Thomas J Watson Sr in 1945, has an undeniably illustrious history.
With more than 3,000 researchers and 12 centres spread across six continents, it remains the world’s largest industrial-research organisation.
In 1998, it set up its India wing — IBM Research India — in the IIT-Delhi campus. It was the country’s first industrial science lab; the second centre opened in Bengaluru in 2005. The operations here have grown exponentially — from something as basic as troubleshooting services, the lab is now driving a lot of research work globally. In 2018, IBM researchers from India secured over 800 patents across technologies, including cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing and automation.
“IBM has two clear strategies — one is the hybrid cloud strategy where we enable our clients to move to the cloud. The second is cognitive enterprise, where research redefines how business is done today,” says Gargi B Dasgupta, director, IBM Research India and CTO, IBM India and South Asia. IBM Research India is focused on applying AI and blockchain technology across agriculture, retail and enterprise automation.
IBM is collaborating with IIT-Delhi and IIT-Bombay to make AI systems that will do more than r