Drones Club: IBM’s New HQ in ’62

In keeping with the theme of our last post, Ivy-Style presents the following photo spread.

In “IBM Story,” Life Magazine chronicled the company’s new headquarters in Dayton, NJ, which IBM moved into in the fall of 1962.

Time changes perspective, and perspective changes everything. IBM at midcentury was the epitome of corporate-drone conformity, a punchline for beatniks, a monolithic organization where souls went to die.

Fifty years later, it looks kinda cool: Modern architecture, swingin’ sixties secretaries, eggheads in lab coats, cigarettes and cocktails, sleek suits and slim ties. 

22 Comments on "Drones Club: IBM’s New HQ in ’62"

  1. I used to sling 2400′ reels of tape on those tape drives, run payroll, process insurance premiums and claims, all in a days work on an IBM 360/30 at the Agricultural Insurance Company in Watertown, NY. We got bought by Carl Linder’s empire and became Great American Insurance Company of Cincinnati, OH. A great place to work.

    When I first went to work for the Agricultural Insurance Co (“The Ag”) as it was known in town, I thought this was the best job in the whole wide world. That was 1972 – man oh man… how things have changed.

    Thanks for posting this IBM series. Great work, good material and Watson was a gentleman (again — things have changed).

  2. I would put money down that many IBM employees today go to work in jeans and a t shirt

  3. I saw a photo similar to the one of that formation of guys in suits, narrow ties, etc. that was taken of the engineers who staffed NASA’s Houston Space Center during the 1969 moon landing mission. Only the NASA engineers had shorter hair and wore plastic pocket protectors with pens sticking out.

    The photo was titled: revenge of the geeks. And so it was.

  4. Christian | June 8, 2009 at 9:19 pm |

    AldenPyle at Andy’s Trad Forum also posted these astronaut/NASA photos:

    http://www.askandyaboutclothes.com/forum/showthread.php?t=91021

  5. EVAN EVERHART | August 22, 2018 at 12:36 pm |

    Third picture down, man sitting at the desk, left of the photograph; Newman anyone? It all somehow flows, as some bizarre and wondrous infinity loop back to Seinfeld and Geo. Costanza.

    These are outstanding photographs and the commentary is entertaining. Thanks!

  6. In my department, it seems that the only dress code rule is that you have to wear clothes.

  7. Wow, that’s bland. A much needed interruption– Preppy frivolity:

    https://archive.org/details/potpourri00unse_74/page/142

  8. In the US, the military draft was still in effect until after Nixon was elected in 1968. The military style was the zeitgeist in the early 60s for sure.

  9. Michael J. Lotus | March 19, 2019 at 4:33 pm |

    Can I move to that country and never come back?

  10. elder prep | March 19, 2019 at 6:20 pm |

    I was a student in a Long Island, NY community college computer class. To program the mainframe to complete a project you were given a punch board and wire plugs to connect the circuits to generate punch cards that would eventually run the computer. It was all too frequently the case to show up for class to see a note taped to the door stating the computer had crashed and the class was canceled.

  11. The Earl of Iredell | June 8, 2021 at 4:07 pm |

    Drones? Monolithic? A place where souls went to die? Surely you jest!

    IBM of that time period was — quite unlike today — a national treasure. The research and product-development guys were incredibly innovative. Many of them were real “characters” wth a soul very much alive. Working conditions were excellent. Employees could speak their minds without fear of being “canceled.”

    About the clothing: Watson decreed that customer-facing employees dressed like their customers, and the dress you see was such of the time. This dress code applied only very loosely to other employees. Now you see fatuous conformance with today’s informal dress code of T-shirts, jeans, and other ratty looking items.

  12. Roger Sack | June 8, 2021 at 8:20 pm |

    The IBM “uniform” of the time always reminded me of the FBI
    uniform under J Edgar Hoover in the sixties and before. If I
    recall correctly neither organization recruited much from the
    Ivies/ elite eastern colleges, except in the case of IBM, for tech
    personnel from such powerhouses as MIT, Cornell, Princeton, etc.

  13. As a member of the Wodehouse Society I approve of the title of this post.

  14. W. Cochrane | June 9, 2021 at 3:20 am |

    In the late 70’s I visited friends in San Francisco. The husband was at IBM and he had some very interesting stories about the corporate culture. One colleague’s career was derailed by a fatal fashion faux pas / dress code violation. He wore tassel loafers to work. I find it difficult to romanticize the place.

  15. Snoozeville.

  16. Aivii Riigu | June 9, 2021 at 8:44 am |

    Much better than the slobs in Silicon Valley.

  17. Unrelated-There is a Wall Street Journal opinion piece by a fellow named R.R. Reno regarding the perils of hiring Ivy Leaguers. In a nutshell, they are generally followers and snowflakes.

    Iwmarti-I agree. I wonder how they would have behaved on Boat Race Nights.

    Will

  18. Reno, who, by the way, has great style (we share a tailor), is 100% correct. Sadly.

    Anecdotally (in my experience), true of Ivy League alums. Not creative, or, for that matter, very interesting. They test their way into admission (classwork and SATs), and, a few years later, emerge with less creativity (and capacity for thinking outside the box) than before enrollment. Is it the tyranny of the SAT or is that (merely) symptomatic of much larger structural issues? I’m guessing we’ve all read Halberstam’s scathing indictment of Ivy League-level groupthink. I suspect the better liberal arts colleges (Williams, Middlebury, Swarthmore, Haverford, Amherst) avoid this tendency toward mind-numbingly dull blandness.

    Note Davie Brooks’ article on the organization kid–about Princeton alums. Rule followers– to a painfully robotic extent. But they become great managers– of money and people.

    My tailor/haberdasher maintains a really intriguing theory that the “campusization” (prep schools and colleges) of (old) Brooks Brothers actually besmirched/tarnished the style. Stands to reason: the popularizing of anything will result in some dilution.

  19. Charlottesville | June 9, 2021 at 10:55 am |

    Looks pretty good to me. I wish I could find those tab collars these days.

  20. Beatniks don’t know everything.

  21. Evan,

    When you control the mail you control…INFORMATION

  22. Preston Forrester | June 9, 2021 at 11:40 pm |

    They were anything but drones.

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