Geek Trivia

IBM’s Natural Language Supercomputer Watson Was Named After?

Sherlock Holmes' Sidekick
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IBM's First CEO
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A bank of computers showcasing a section of the Watson supercomputer at an IBM lab

Answer: IBM’s First CEO

One of the best known Watsons around is literary figure John H. Watson, better known as Dr. Watson, and even better known by Sherlock Holmes’ penchant for ending statements to his loyal companion with “my dear Watson.” As such, it’s hardly a surprise that most people assume that IBM’s natural language supercomputer and famed Jeopardy contestant Watson was named after the puzzle-solving literary figure.

While the name might double as a pleasant allusion to the literary figure, the computer was in fact named after a very real person: IBM’s first CEO and successful industrialist Thomas J. Watson. Watson oversaw the company from 1914 to 1956 and was influential in growing IBM into an international powerhouse that dominated the computation industry for most of the 20th century.