Use Your Head (With IBM)

Updated September, 2016

CVA 99-4954 - I.B.M. [International Business Machines Company store (515 West Georgia Street) at night] 1936 Stuart Thomson photo.

CVA 99-4954 – I.B.M. [International Business Machines Company store (515 West Georgia Street) at night] 1936 Stuart Thomson photo.

This is an exterior shot of IBM’s Vancouver presence on Georgia Street (on north side, between Seymour and Richards Street) in 1936 (there is another image showing the building and NCR’s office in context with St. Andrew’s Church in the same year). Their monosyllabic motto of the time, evidently, was ‘Think’ – which also was the name of an employee/customer magazine that published its first issue the previous year. In 1935, the company marketed the first commercially successful electric typewriter (and it would continue to sell them until 1990). One of the portraits on the wall (flanking THINK) is undoubtedly of Thomas J. Watson (CEO, 1914-1956); the other may be of Charles Ranlett Flint, who consolidated four other smaller companies into Computing-Tabulating-Recording company (CTR), which was renamed International Business Machines in 1924. IBM’s Vancouver presence was apparently that of a branch office; the site of the Canadian factory and head office was Toronto.

I’ve had help from a reader of VAIW, recently (see comment), who recognized his Dad and a couple of other local IBM sales and service gents in the photo shown below. The commenter’s father was the local head of the International Time Recorder division. In case you are curious (as I was) about what that division was responsible for, see this link.


CVA 99-4785 – I.B.M. personnel. 1935. Stuart Thomson photo. The fellow sitting at the desk (in the corner) is Robert Nelles (1907-1966), manager of the EAM (Electronic Accounting Machines) division; Ferris Stricker (1892-1955), manager of the International Time Recorder division is the next person (moving clockwise and sitting under “Be of the TIMBER that produces PLANKS); the gent next to him is unknown to me; Harry Kitely, service manager, is seated on the right at front (sitting under the sign that reads “Turn plans into planks!”)

CVA 447-145 - St. Andrews United Church [Georgia and Richards Streets] 1936 Walter E Frost photo.

CVA 447-145 – St. Andrews United Church at Georgia and Richards Streets. IBM and NCR offices just visible in the left foreground. 1936 Walter E Frost photo.

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5 Responses to Use Your Head (With IBM)

  1. Ron Stricker 604-275-9566 says:

    My dad Ferris Stricker is in one of the photos third from right. He was manager of the international time recorder division I know the address was 515 w Georgia st Vancouver and I was in the building many time ps as I was born in 1937. I also recognize Bob Nellis and service manager
    Harry Kitely

    • mdm says:

      Thanks so much for this additional information about the photo of the IBM Sales Group (also in CVA’s collection). Thanks for pointing out your Dad, Ferris Stricker. I’d appreciate it if you could also identify where in the photo Mr Nellis and Mr Kitely are seated… Thanks again for commenting.

  2. Ron Stricker 604-275-9566 says:

    Read the interesting article, that you researched, about ibms “master clock”
    My Dad Ferris Stricker sold the clocks on the VancouverCity Hall.
    So the the next time that you drive by the city hall see if the four clocks are synchronized.


  3. Shane says:

    Does anyone know how long NCR was at this location and if there are any interior pictures of it? I know in the 60s they were up on Broadway, then over by Still Creek in Burnaby then into Langley was their last physical presence before employees went virtual. Also an interesting fact is IBM was started by a disgruntled sales man from NCR by the name of Thomas Watson. It is funny that they were next door to each other

  4. mdm says:

    I can tell you that NCR was at 501 W Georgia through 1954. They moved in ’54 or ’55 to 1131 W Broadway. I cannot say how long NCR remained there, since 1955 is as far as online directories are available. If you are interested in pursuing this further, however, there are paper directories at vpl in special collections on 7th floor, and also at city of vancouver archives, fyi. Happy hunting! 🙂

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