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The Associated Press June 16, 2011, 12:04AM ET

IBM nickname "Big Blue" remains a big mystery

IBM has been known informally as Big Blue for decades, but the origin of the colorful nickname remains a mystery.

The term Big Blue has appeared in the press accounts since at least 1982. The "Big" refers to the global company's size, but there are several possible explanations for the "Blue."

The name may owe its origin to the IBM logo adopted in 1972. It depicts the three letters in bold horizontal stripes, often colored blue.

There also are suggestions that it is an allusion to the blue covers that IBM put on its mainframes in the 1960s or even the dark blue suits once worn by IBM's conservatively dressed salesmen.

Uncertainty hasn't deterred IBM Corp. from playing off the nickname. When the company put one of its computers up against Garry Kasparov in a chess match in 1997, IBM called the machine Deep Blue. More recently, it pushed frontiers in supercomputing with Blue Gene.

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