10.09.18
Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand | Audio

S5E2: Jon Iwata


Jon Iwata is executive in residence at the Yale School of Management and a senior advisor to IBM.



Iwata spent 34 years at IBM, in becoming chief marketing officer and chief brand officer. Iwata is a writer, not a visual designer, but words are essential in branding as well as design:
I mean, when we celebrated our centennial in 2011, I had spent two or three years climbing through our history, literally going through our archives. I was surprised and delighted to find memoranda from the 50s and 60s, when computers were first entering the world. The memoranda had terms like, “We need to work with the leading universities of the land to train future generations of workers in fields such as ‘computer science,’ ‘data bases,’ ‘networks,’ ‘virtualization.’”

IBM, in other words, invented vocabulary that the public now takes for granted.

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