IBM's highest technical honor is the designation of IBM Fellow. Fellows are selected for sustained and distinguished technical achievements in engineering, programming and technology. Since the program began in 1962, only 217 people have been designated IBM Fellows. Fellows are granted a wide sphere of independence in the pursuit of their research.
IBM Fellows have invented some of the industry's most useful and profitably applied technologies. Few computer users may realize how much of this group's innovations have created the computer technology we take for granted.
Examples of technology originated by IBM Fellows include:
- Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC) — the architectural basis for most high performance work stations and servers
- Thin-film heads — for high-density disk storage devices
- DRAM — the fundamental solid-state memory technology used in the industry
- Relational databases — one of the foundational technologies of knowledge management
- The Trackpoint — the little red pointing device for laptop computers
- Virtual memory — allows many users to share a single computer
- The Scanning Tunneling Microscope — the first instrument able to image atoms
- Fortran — one of the world's most widely used computer languages
- The AT bus — the basic architecture for IBM personal computers
In 2010, six new Fellows were named. There are currently 73 active employees across the company who are IBM Fellows.