Can this be true?

Posted by: Steve Hamm on October 28, 2005

I heard a wild story today from some exployees of NCR Corp. It involves Thomas J. Watson, the founder of IBM, and the origin of the use of the word “fired” for an employee being terminated. They told me that when Watson, who was the sales manager at NCR, was fired in 1914, the company wasn’t satisfied to cut him loose but also had workmen carry his desk outside HQ in Dayton and light it on fire. There was motive. Watson was one of the employees blamed for bringing a federal anti-trust judgment down on the cash register company. But can this be true?

Reader Comments

Beale_J

October 29, 2005 7:56 AM

Several years ago, a promising IBM junior executive lost the company several million dollars in a risky venture. Thomas J. Watson Sr., IBM's founder, called the executive to his office. The young man blurted out, "I guess you want my resignation?" Watson replied, "You can't be serious. We've just spent millions of dollars educating you!"

Brian Riley

October 31, 2005 10:36 AM

I heard the use of the term "fired" dates back to the Vikings habit of setting fire to the homes of villagers they no longer.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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