Brave New World: IBM Style Encore

The corporate conformists take a curtain call.

Let us peer once again into the offices of International Business Machines, circa 1962.

The shots almost have a sci-fi vibe to them. I love the contrast between the vintage computers and simple, formal dress. Today’s web start-ups and flip-flops just aren’t the same.

Just because you have to wear a white shirt every day doesn’t mean you don’t get an occasional company party. This one’s about as lively as they get.

Parting shot: Man creates machine then wonders, “What have I done?” — CC

11 Comments on "Brave New World: IBM Style Encore"

  1. Thanks for the last couple of days of pics. ‘Love the glimpse of the Saarinen chairs in the conference room above. Great caption to the last photo.

  2. I would rather work in a sartorial environment like the one pictured here than the one that is nearly ubiquitous now. Yes, I wear a hat, jacket, and tie to work, every day–and my co-workers wear denim, tennis shoes, polo shirts, and similar, slovenly leisure wear.

  3. it is “cool” now to be a slob that doesn’t care about anything…

  4. I would love to work in this environment. I not only love the clothes, but the architecture and general design as well. Reading these posts has been a great treat. Thank you so much for the site. I am a huge fan.

  5. Remember that 1962, the US was at its height economically and most of the mainframes in the photos were manufactured domestically.

    Today, Asia is in the lead economically and companies like Apple have no manufacturing or assembly of their iPhones within the US.

    The puerile, slovenly dress of most tech company employees today reflect the loss of American manufacturing might. I imagine there are engineers in Japan, South Korea, and China who always wear a suit and tie to work everyday.

  6. Old School Tie | November 12, 2018 at 10:57 am |

    CC – well some poor chap died last week here in the UK whilst being operated on by a robot. The cardiothoracic surgeon was apparently left to it by the robot company reps halfway through the op. I guarantee that all involved wear suits to work every day, but sadly this did not stop them from committing a balls up and then some….and this is without contemplating today’s news that numerous companies in the City are pushing to biochip their employees – stop them from accessing sensitive areas of the business.

  7. RoarLionRoar | November 12, 2018 at 3:52 pm |

    Want to clarify: software engineers in Japan (or at least at Sony) wear similar clothing to engineers in North America. Also despite the conception on this site, most engineers don’t wear flip flops to work. The most common outfit among engineers both here and Japan is jeans and a dress shirt with a belt.

  8. There was a good reason for the IBM dress code. It was explained to me by my Computer Science teacher (a former IBM man) in the early seventies.

    In the fifties and sixties, large mainframe computers were a very expensive proposition, yet still often seen as an unproven novelty. Sales had to be fought for industry-by-industry and sector-by-sector. The very conservative clothing enforced on sales staff was deliberately chosen to counterbalance the ‘latest fad’ stigma sometimes associated with the new-fangled computers.

  9. These men look great.
    I surmise that there were many more barber shops back then.

  10. Poison Ivy Leaguer | June 9, 2021 at 5:10 pm |

    My first job out of college (’68) was at a small city branch of IBM. The uniform was a 3 button (and probably 3 piece) suit, mandatory white shirt and wing tips (probably Florsheim Imperials) and a crew cut ala’ Dobie Gillis. Every once in a while, I noticed that some guy’s wife, girlfriend or daughter got on him about his dated attire. So now, he had mutton chop sideburns with his crew cut, a wide loud tie and shoes that the Beatles might have worn. He was instantly transformed from looking good, but dated, to ridiculous. Moral of the story — If you want to go for a look don’t go half way!

  11. As an undergrad business major at GMU in Northern Virginia, one of our first assignments was to program a big IBM mainframe in the computer lab using a “punch board” and cables to tell the computer its task. More often than not, someone would inadvertently “crash” the computer.

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