Last updated: Feb 2, 2006

Logos of Paul Rand

Paul Rand and IBM Logo history ...

The story begins in 1956 when designer Paul Rand introduced what IBM refers to as the IBM continuity logo (1956-1972) This logo is the solid block letters IBM in City Medium type font. At the time it was considered a modernization from the IBM in transition (1947-1956) logo in the Beton Bold type font. This earlier logo is most easily recognized by the flat bottom M, where the New block letter logo has a pointy M.

According to the IBM Archives in 1972 the IBM international recognition logo was adopted and remains the official logo still in use. The IBM logo is easily recognized by the distinctive eight stripes that make up the letters IBM. This logo is often refereed to as the Eight Stripe Logo, or the Eightstriper for short. There is little question based on published material that 5 years earlier in 1967 the 360 family of computers were produced and shipped to with a logo made up of 13 stripes. The ThirteenStriper is easily reconized by the fact it has three stripes or lines makeing up the tip of the I where the EightStripe logo has only two.
It was the total lack of acknowledgment of even the very existence of a 13 strip logo on the IBM website, combined with a marked silence in response to my direct questions, that got me digging deeper. The following mutterings resulted from that tail chase .... and has evolved over time..


The first System 360's had no stripes ...

On April 7, 1964, IBM introduced the System/360, the first large "family" of computers to use interchangeable software and peripheral equipment using the IBM continuity Solid Block logo in a light color on a black background. All the press releases and photos of the first systems reveal this logo color combination. These first  360's supported both punch card and magnetic tape storage and the "old" solid block stripeless logo.

Early 13 Striper

Mixing the old with the new - June 1966 ..

The Thirteenstripe logo has been said to have first been introduced to management several times between 1960 and 1962 and was rejected due to contrast and printing concerns. For reasons beyond explanation the Thirteen Striper was chosen for the masthead of the IBM TSS/360 by the engineering group. As far as I can tell the TSS/360 Mastheads was the first system to sport the Thirteen Stripe logo in black stripes on a light background. This rare mastheads introduced the new logo on the old colors! I rescued it in 1979 from a system that was being scrapped for its gold content. It was said to have been one of the first model 67 based TSS/360 Systems. This system was reported to have come from Commercial Time Share Services one of the first test sites.


1967 the ThirteenStriper first appeared in public ...

In 1967, when IBM introduced the first Disk drive storage system, the System 360's began to sport the new look. This flashy new IBM logo. Although this logo was reported to have been introduced by Paul Rand in 1960 and again in 1962, it was considered to "far out" by the brass and was not to be seen by the general public until 1967. The new masthead was a solid black bar with silver 13 striped logo and lettering, matched the silver on black look of the new front panels. This distinctive new silver on black look was continued into the System 370 family of computers, when the logo design was refined one last time. The resulting eight stripe design remains in use today.

System 370 Masthead

System 370, First to show the Eightstriper ...

IBM 370 Mastheads

The Big Iron mastheads continued to be used on the 370 family of systems. They were replaced by more conventional labels on the 303X and later systems. I remember the first time I worked on a 3031, I was shocked to see IBM had done away with the classic masthead. It had very little on the outside to identify it beyond a small badge.

The story continues with more about IBM use of the Thirteenstriper:
The ThirteenStriper lived on ...

All references to IBM and its registered trademarks are descriptive. International Business Machines Corporation (IBM, or colloquially, Big Blue) has registered and used numerous versions of the IBM trademark, their presentation here, along with all references to IBM and IBM collectables are used descriptively, in good faith to describe the products and publications produced by IBM in the past and to simply tell this story. All usage here is based on the Fair Use Doctrine.
(c)2006 R.C.Bradlee all rights reserved
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