Browse Prior Art Database

IBM Customer Education Classes Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129550D
Original Publication Date: 1988-Dec-31
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Document File: 2 page(s) / 16K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Eric A. Weiss: AUTHOR [+2]


P. O. Box 15943 Honolulu, Hawaii 96815

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 51% of the total text.

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Copyright ©; 1988 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

IBM Customer Education Classes

Eric A. Weiss

P. O. Box 15943 Honolulu, Hawaii 96815

While cleaning out files accumulated during 37 years of computing experience at the Sun Oil Company, I came on two loose-leaf binders from the early 1950s, which were identified as "Proceedings of IBM Conferences." I sent them to the Charles Babbage Institute on a "keep or dump" basis. Asked about the nature of these conferences, I gave the following explanation.

IBM's conferences were an important aspect of the company's marketing scheme. They originated in the 1930s, antedating computers, and were part of the punched card marketing program. I am not sure whether they still go on.

They were formally called Customer Education Classes and seemed to function on the budget of the IBM Department of Education. Attendance was by invitation only and involved no cost to the customer beyond getting there and home. Each lasted about a week.

Originally the conferences were conducted at Endicott, New York, with housing and feeding in "The Homestead," a mansion converted for the purpose. Meetings, always called classes, were held in the IBM Education Building. After a few years classrooms were added to the Homestead.

Each conference included 30 to 40 people, mostly IBM customers from several different companies in a single industry, one or two from each company. In addition there were a few concerned IBM employees. For example, in the case of the conferences for the petroleum industry specialists, which I attended, a few salesmen for major petroleum accounts and a few of IBM's Applied Science Representatives on such accounts would attend.

Two or three conferences would be conducted in parallel at the same time and venue. Petroleum was often at Endicott while Retail Groceries were there too. The daily meetings were segregated by industry, but I learned a lot about Retail Groceries by sitting with these strangers at breakfast or dinner.

In pre-computer days the conferences were a mixture of recreation at the IBM Country Club (especially golf), drinking in Endicott bars (IBM was extremely dry), and actual classes in how to use IBM equipment, wire boards, and so on. For the most part the IBM people knew enough about punched card equipment and how to use it to serve as effective instructors with some occasional customer contribution. But in the early computer days many of the customers knew more about the computers and their uses, especially when mathematics or electronics were involved, than the sales force or the education department. Also the new breed of technical customers were accustomed to the engineering and scientific tradition of giving and auditing ...