Last of the Great Big Blue Mohicans dies

akarJohn Akers, one of the “Last of the Great Big Blue Mohicans” who led IBM to its longtime dominance of the computer industry died of a stroke on Friday. He was 79 years old.

Akers was a former fighter pilot who served as IBM’s chief executive from 1985 to 1993, this was a critical time for Biggish Blue as PCs, Microsoft and Intel started to grow.

However Akers was determined to keep IBM operating using its traditional methods, particularly when it came to being nice to employees.

Akers joined IBM in 1960 and rose through its sales ranks. Four years later, the company released a machine called the System/360 that cleaned the clock of rivals and Akers found himself very busy.

He received 16 promotions in a span of 23 years, but he also dubbed the IBM uniform of blue suits, white shirts and striped ties as “very square.”

As IBM’s mainframe sales tanked in the 1980s, Akers ordered reorganisations and job cuts. During his tenure, IBM posted its first operating loss and recorded more than $15 billion in charges.

He resigned, under pressure and was replaced by Louis Gerstner, Gerstner delivered big changes, including plant closings and a shift away from hardware and toward software and services.

However, Akers was known as a gentleman, who liked and cared for his employees.