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IBM Rochester
The sprawling IBM facility in Rochester, Minnesota.
General information
Address3605 Highway 52 North
Town or cityRochester, Minnesota
CountryUnited States
Coordinates44°03′30″N 92°30′20″W / 44.05833°N 92.50556°W / 44.05833; -92.50556
Current tenantsIBM, Western Digital
InauguratedSeptember 30, 1958
OwnerIndustrial Realty Group
Technical details
Floor count3
Floor area3,100,000 sq ft (290,000 m2)
Grounds492 acres (200 hectares)
Other information
Public transit accessBus transport RPT

IBM Rochester is the facility of IBM in Rochester, Minnesota. The initial structure was designed by Eero Saarinen, who clad the structure in blue panels of varying hues after being inspired by the Minnesota sky,[1] and IBM's nickname of Big Blue.[2]


Early years

Groundbreaking took place on July 31, 1956. When it was first completed, there was 576,000 square feet (53,500 m2) of floor space. After expansion, it has 3.1 million square feet (290×10^3 m2) on the main campus, more than half the size of the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.

The building was first dedicated in 1958, but has been expanded considerably since then.

Current developments

The site was renamed Rochester Technology Campus.

Employment at the site has gone through several cycles of growth and collapse, but is over twice what it was in the 1950s.

On May 4, 2016, it was announced that IBM would consolidate its remaining employees into the eight buildings on the east side of the complex and sell the remaining facilitates to a separate entity.[3] This occurred after years of IBM renting out its various facilities to companies it had spun or sold off such as HGST. The site's employee count (excluding contractors) was reported to be 2,740 in 2013 and 2,791 in 2017, a steep decline from the high of over 8,000.[4][5]

In February 2018 the property was sold to Industrial Realty Group of Los Angeles.[6]

On April 24, 2018, in a presentation to the local community, it was announced that the site was renamed Rochester Technology Campus.[7]


The mile-long facility is best known as the plant that produced the AS/400 computer system. The AS/400 system was itself an advancement of the System/38 that was introduced several years earlier with an inbuilt Relational Data Base Management System (RDBMS) making it leading edge for its time. The AS/400 was later rebranded as the iSeries. Development of the OS/400 operating system, now known as IBM i, continues at Rochester.

IBM Power Systems development is here.[8]

PureSystems were originally assembled at this site,[9] but are now mainly assembled in New York and Mexico.[10]

The IBM 3740 Data Entry System was developed at the facility in 1973 and the follow-on IBM 5280 Distributed Data System had its beginnings there, but was transferred in 1981 to the Austin, TX facility, where it was released for production. The advent of personal computing swallowed up this type of data entry by 1990.

The IBM 5110 personal computer was developed and manufactured in the facility.

IBM Rochester was important to the Summit and Sierra supercomputers.[11][12]

RS/6000, now System p, and hard disk development occurred here.


The AS/400 division at the plant received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 1990. In November 2004, the facility claimed the top spot in the TOP500 list of fast supercomputers with a prototype Blue Gene/L system containing 32,768 processors. It was clocked at 70.72 teraflops. The manufacturing output of the site is so great that if it was a separate company, it would be the world's third-largest computer producer.

The plant, which is near U.S. Highway 52 in the northwestern part of Rochester, was recognized in 1990 by the National Building Museum as one of the significant contributions of IBM to the built environment of the United States, along with IBM's New York City headquarters and the IBM building in Atlanta, Georgia.


Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, although having been spun off from IBM Storage Technology, remains on-site, leasing otherwise unused space from IBM. Along with the Mayo Clinic, the IBM plant is one of the biggest employers in the Rochester area, reportedly numbering around 5,000 in 2002.

In 2019, Crenlo LLC rented part of the IBM facility to move part of its EMCORE manufacturing division, where it is currently separate from the Crenlo Cab Manufacturing line of products, as EMCORE was sold in 2021.


  1. ^ Thao, Susan (August 2, 2019). "Was Minnesota the inspiration behind IBM's nickname "Big Blue"?". TPT Originals. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  2. ^ Zemsky, Robert (2013). Checklist for Change: Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise. Rutgers University Press. p. 114. ISBN 978-0813561349. Located eighty-five miles due south of the Twin Cities, Rochester is the home of both the Mayo Clinic and a major IBM facility housed in an Euro Saarinen edifice affectionately known as the Big Blue Zoo.
  3. ^ "IBM to sell buildings, consolidate campus". May 5, 2016.
  4. ^ "Rochester IBM head count: 2,740". November 18, 2013.
  5. ^ Jeff, Kiger (February 4, 2018). "Rochester IBM employee numbers are ... up?". Rochester Post-Bulletin. Retrieved October 28, 2019.
  6. ^ Andy Brownell. "From Rapid Growth to Slow Decline - History of IBM-Rochester". News Talk 1340 KROC-AM. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  7. ^ Bunner, James (April 24, 2018). "Big Blue campus gets new name, community gets new opportunities". Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  8. ^ "IBM To Sell Off Two-Thirds Of The Rochester Labs". May 9, 2016.
  9. ^ IT-Jungle Volume 21, Number 16 -- April 23, 2012
  10. ^ IBM moving Rochester production to NY, Mexico March 6, 2013, at MPRNews
  11. ^ Kiger, Jeff (June 19, 2019). "Heard on the Street: IBM Rochester supercomputers remain top two fastest in the world". Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  12. ^ Kiger, Jeff (June 26, 2018). "Rochester team helps IBM create world's fastest computer". Retrieved August 19, 2019.