The International Business Machines Corporation, or IBM was founded in 1911 by Thomas J. Watson and Charles Ranlett Flint. Though IBM is most known now for the production and sale of microprocessors, 100 years ago they were primarily focused on cash registers, time clocks, and the Electric Tabulating Machine.
The ETM is one of the earliest precursors to the modern computer. However, for Lexington, what IBM is most remembered for, is their manufacturing of typewriters. In 1956, IBM built a 386,000 sq. ft. typewriter factory in Lexington off of New Circle Road. In the process IBM hired over 1,800 people. By 1985, IBM was employing over 6,000 people in Lexington. This made them the second largest employer in the city, second only to the University of Kentucky, which was thenemploying 7,500 citizens. Over the course of 40 years, IBM was one of the largest industrial forces in the Bluegrass. The entrance of IBM to Lexington cause rapid growth in population. In 1950, Fayette County had a population of 100,700. By 1960, it was 131,906; by 1970, 174,323 and 1980, 204,165. It was because of IBM that the neighborhoods of Deep Springs, Rookwood, Dixie, Winburn, Marlboro, Oakwood, Castlewood and Loudon Avenue thrived. The entrance of so many new people also cause cultural tension between the IBMers and old Lexington.
IBM shut down its Lexington Operations when the New York investment firm Clayton and Dubilier bought at least 80% of IBM’s information products division in 1990. The resulting company was christened Lexmark. The name came about due to “lex” inspired by “lexicon” with “mark” meaning marks on paper.