V.E.R.A. -- Virtual Entity of Relevant Acronyms (February 2016):
International Business Machines (manufacturer, IBM)
The Jargon File (version 4.4.7, 29 Dec 2003):
Once upon a time, the computer company most hackers loved to hate; today,
the one they are most puzzled to find themselves liking.
From hackerdom's beginnings in the mid-1960s to the early 1990s, IBM was
regarded with active loathing. Common expansions of the corporate name
included: Inferior But Marketable; It's Better Manually; Insidious Black
Magic; It's Been Malfunctioning; Incontinent Bowel Movement; and a near-
infinite number of even less complimentary expansions (see also fear and
loathing). What galled hackers about most IBM machines above the PC level
wasn't so much that they were underpowered and overpriced (though that
counted against them), but that the designs were incredibly archaic,
crufty, and elephantine ... and you couldn't fix them ? source code was
locked up tight, and programming tools were expensive, hard to find, and
bletcherous to use once you had found them.
We didn't know how good we had it back then. In the 1980s IBM had its own
troubles with Microsoft and lost its strategic way, receding from the
hacker community's view. Then, in the 1990s, Microsoft became more noxious
and omnipresent than IBM had ever been.
In the late 1990s IBM re-invented itself as a services company, began to
release open-source software through its AlphaWorks group, and began
shipping Linux systems and building ties to the Linux community. To the
astonishment of all parties, IBM emerged as a staunch friend of the hacker
community and open source development, with ironic consequences noted in
the FUD entry.
This lexicon includes a number of entries attributed to ?IBM?; these derive
from some rampantly unofficial jargon lists circulated within IBM's
formerly beleaguered hacker underground.
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing (30 December 2018):
International Business Machines
(IBM) The best known American computer manufacturer,
founded by Thomas J. Watson (born 1874-02-17), known as "Big
Blue" after the colour of its logo. IBM makes everything from
mainframes to personal computers (PCs) and has been
immensely successful in selling them, chiefly to business. It
has often been said that "Nobody has ever been sacked for
The IBM PC in its various versions has been so successful
that unqualified reference to a "PC" almost certainly means a
PC from IBM, or one of the many brands of clone produced by
other manufacturers to cash in on IBM's original success.
Alternative expansions of "IBM" such as Inferior But
Marketable; It's Better Manually; Insidious Black Magic; It's
Been Malfunctioning; Incontinent Bowel Movement, illustrate
the considerable antipathy most hackers have long felt toward
the "industry leader" (see fear and loathing).
Quarterly sales $15351M, profits $689M (Aug 1994).