IBM, the company famous for reinventing itself from a typewriter maker into a leader in computer development, has just turned 100 years old. We’ve been big fans of the blue giant for its previous work on hard drives and laptops, as well as their latest fame in supercomputer design, and we were happy to find out about the centennial. But, it should be noted that IBM has been a major player in medical technology development for many years. For example, IBM built the first continuous blood separator, the first heart-lung machine, and developed the excimer laser used in LASIK surgeries. Lately, the company has been doing important work in electronic medical records, helping doctors diagnose and treat patients, as well as applying supercomputers to the development of new drugs and therapies.
Some more about the company’s healthcare related work from the last one hundred years:
- Working with the World Health Organization, IBM precisely mapped outbreaks of smallpox in 1976. This effort contributed to the eventual eradication of the disease in the general population a few years later.
- In the early 1990s IBM and the University of Washington built a prototype of the first medical imaging system.
- IBM’s World Community Grid, released in 2004, continues to use pervasive networking and crowdsourcing to apply supercomputer levels of processing power to urgent healthcare and societal needs such as fighting AIDS, cancer and dengue fever and malaria.
- Using IBM’s Blue Gene supercomputing simulations, researchers at IBM and the University of Edinburgh are currently collaborating on lab experiments to design drugs aimed at preventing the spread of the HIV virus.
- IBM is working with Roche on new nanopore-based technology that will directly read and sequence human DNA quickly and efficiently. The technology has the potential to improve throughput and reduce costs to achieve the vision of whole human genome sequencing at a cost of $100 to $1,000.
Happy birthday IBM, and to another productive 100 years!