Thread regarding IBM layoffs

Salaries in 1990s

Currently, most of the tech companies are paying 120000$ a year on avg to early developers.

I would appreciate if anyone still around from late 80s or early 90s comment on what where there joining salaries at IBM at that time when IBM was behemoth. In general what where salary standards during those days.

Nowadays it's too volatile. I am trying to calculate what it would be after 30 years from now. Where the world is heading?

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Post ID: @OP+1c5w3YHY

16 replies (most recent on top)

I started at the IBM Canada Software Laboratory in 1990 making the grand salary of 36K per year. This was with an electrical engineering degree and had done multiple co-op terms at the same lab during school.

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Post ID: @Lgii+1c5w3YHY

Systems Engineer, 1995, joined with 2 years of experience at $55K/year

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Post ID: @kweu+1c5w3YHY

I joined GBS in 1998 as an analyst straight from a top state school in California - my salary was 49,000. I was a Bus-Econ major wiht a Comp Sci minor. At that time folks with CS majors were getting about 10 to 15 percent more than us... Business majors from private schools also got about 5% more as they had more loan debt. I left after six years and joined a Fortune 500 company in the IT department, coming from GBS was a plus as most folks on the ERP program were from large consulting companies so I had no issues fitting in quickly.

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Post ID: @ktpy+1c5w3YHY

This is in response to your post:

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Thanks all for your responses. Here's what I can conclude,

1970 - $10k/yr
1990 - $50k/yr
2020 - $120k/yr

I am planning to retire in 2050. Hopefully, avg salaries by that time would be around $250k/yr.

Considering that, it doesn't make much sense to keep changing jobs for 20k raise between few years. Also, stocks worth of 30-40k today won't make much difference in a longer run.

Instead, I would focus on happiness and life and family instead of money and career. Only sweet memories would be helpful in retirement.

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I am retired today but I spent a lot of time on the road away from family. We did not move for jobs because we wanted the kids to go to the same school system from Kindergarten to High School. Everyone has to make their own personal decisions and do not just writing off doing what it takes to keep your pay moving up--a balanced life is different between us all. Today, my sweet memories include having enough money after retirement to help my children put down a down payment on their homes so they have a place to raise their children.

Would I have loved to have had a better work-life balance. Life is full of regrets, but I can tell you with the cost of housing in Austin now, I am glad I spent a little more effort on the work side of the equation to have the money to help them today.

You are asking the right questions. Talk to Dad and Mom, talk to your older friends for advice. Here is what Ida M. Tarbell wrote almost a century ago and still applies today. It is as beautiful as something written by a poet:

"The most interesting and important thing in the world for you [son/daughter] is to work out your own particular life. ... Nobody else ever stood in your particular place or ever will stand in one identical. ... You alone can fuse the elements.

‚Äč"Hold your place; do not try to shift into the place that another occupies. Keep your eye on what you have to work with, not on what somebody else has. The ultimate result, the originality, flavor, distinction, usefulness of your life, depend on the care, the reverence, and the intelligence with which you work up and out from where you are and with what you have."

Amen Ida! America's Greatest Journalist.

Good luck in your journey.

Cheers,

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Post ID: @4yhd+1c5w3YHY

I intending to write an article on the salary/commissions system of IBM during the 20th Century. I believe it was pretty logical and the lack of visibility to the "why's and wherefores'" of the salary system eventually created a lot of hard feelings in the company. Individuals would bump their heads against the salary ceilings in their tier and not know or understand why.

Nope, the 20th Century IBM wasn't perfect but in 90% of the cases it was striving to be. Back then at least, first-line managers had a lot of power to "fix" things (if you had a great one) and I came across a lot of great ones in my career.

Pretty soon I will have my website back online and focused on writing again about IBM history. This will by my skeleton for the article.

In the '80s IBM had a three-tier system for paying individuals in the sales branch offices. I started at $12K per year in 1980 in administration. This was $2K over what the first-line manager should have paid me. ... He called Atlanta to get approval. He was a good man and back then you trusted the word of a manager ... besides eventually he became one of my closest friends among a team of close friends. (The story of the team and the manager is in my book "A View from Beneath the Dancing Elephant.")

But I digress.

These were actual salary "tiers" and they rarely overlapped. High performance in administration would "never" get you into even the bottom salary tier of an S.E. or sales rep. The only way to make significantly more money was to change jobs ... move between the tiers, not within them.

So in 1980 a starting administrative salary was 10K. Back then one of the known caveats was to discuss salaries. A few years later I felt blindsided as a young college graduate was hired as a Systems Engineer. I was on the commission desk and saw her starting salary was 22K. I lost it because I was a top performer and she was starting at twice what I was paid--not considering commissions. After I calmed down and after open dooring my first line manager (which only means I walked into his office and closed the door behind me). Here is what I came to see, observe and can support after working with the salary system as a first-line manager in Austin, Texas.

The salary system was three tier: Administrative, Systems Engineer, and Sales Representative. Administrative salaries were set on a local basis with data from the local job market. (competitive necessity since administrators rarely moved - Austin, because of UT and the State had very, very suppressed salary levels). We fought it constantly.

SE and Rep salaries were set at the national level because eventually they were possibly going to move up and around the country. This caused the first disparity in wages: local vs. nationwide salary grids. Although I did not like this as a first-line manager, I also understood its "competitive" necessity. The problem was that it wasn't made known so that people could change jobs if salary was important to them (as it became to me eventually).

After this local/nationwide fact (and performance evaluations to move within the tier level) the overall salary was based, as I see it, upon two factors: the closeness of the job description to the customer (driving revenue), and the "risk" that an individual took by putting up a portion of their salary that was dependent on making quota for the year (a commissions system). I seem to remember S.E.'s put up 10 to 20% of their salary, sales reps up to 40% of their salary.

So as far as yearly pay, Administration was the bottom tier. Systems Engineers were the mid-tier and Sales Reps were the top tier. To ask what the top two were paid would require also require adding the question "if you made quota?" To be clear, IBM back then never paid like a "Tivoli." That was not the philosophy, but it paid well, consistently, and -- until the Opel and Akers' years -- set manageable quotas.

Once I figured this out, as a first line manager, I moved first to be a Systems Engineer which eventually doubled my take home pay. I then moved to the local engineering lab as a brand manager which eventually doubled my pay with the help of some really great managers who again saw the disparity between what I had started with (Administrative salary) and could never make up with small % raises.

To them I will be forever grateful and the old IBM that back then gave first-line/second-line managers the power to "fix things."

Rather long essay, but one of these days I will write the story. Overall, I think IBM had a good system that rewarded performance within each tier, and the less-than-high salary for administrators' pay was rewarded with top-notch personal and family benefits, awards that flowed with good performance . . . and most of all with employment security (not to be confused with job security which would also start another lengthy note.) The employment security broke down after Akers and has been a problem at IBM ever since, getting worse with each decade.

Thanks for asking this question.

Now I have a basis to start the article! :)

I do miss the old "Official IBM LinkedIn Forum" these were great topics to get my facts straight with feedback from folks you knew were former IBMers.

Cheers,

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Post ID: @4mva+1c5w3YHY
Ohh then why IBM is not offering that much to freshers? I got only 90k on band 6.

Because IBM

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Post ID: @3gha+1c5w3YHY

Ohh then why IBM is not offering that much to freshers? I got only 90k on band 6.

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Post ID: @3jay+1c5w3YHY

$120K?! No way, it's a lot higher. Most startups and large tech companies offer $200Kish (which includes options) for entry level hires. But then again, this is the US and these developers aren't coming from low tier universities.

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Post ID: @2swf+1c5w3YHY
stocks worth of 30-40k today won't make much difference in a longer run

Actually you can turn that into millions if you invest wisely.

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Post ID: @2wqt+1c5w3YHY

Thanks all for your responses. Here's what I can conclude,

1970 - $10k/yr
1990 - $50k/yr
2020 - $120k/yr

I am planning to retire in 2050. Hopefully, avg salaries by that time would be around $250k/yr.

Considering that, it doesn't make much sense to keep changing jobs for 20k raise between few years. Also, stocks worth of 30-40k today won't make much difference in a longer run.

Instead, I would focus on happiness and life and family instead of money and career. Only sweet memories would be helpful in retirement.

by
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Post ID: @1eyg+1c5w3YHY

I joined IBM RTP (1/1990) Facility, 40k a year. Retired from IBM 2016, 130k.

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Post ID: @1vej+1c5w3YHY

Started as a programmer in 1968 at $150/week (8K/yr).
Got out in 1992 at $970/week (50K/yr).

But my defined pension gives me 23K/yr, so I can't complain!

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Post ID: @rsy+1c5w3YHY

Engineering/laboratory technician - specialist
1982 hired as band 17 (now band 2?) 30K with overtime.
By early 90's band 23 (now band 5) 50k - 60k depending on overtime.

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Post ID: @brm+1c5w3YHY

Not sure if this helps as it is earlier than you are asking -
1982 starting -
programmer was 21-22k
HW engineer was 23-25k

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Post ID: @muv+1c5w3YHY

I would guess around 50-60 k. Rule of decade: every decades it grows around 25-30%.

so after 30 years, you will be seeing quarter a million dollars ($250k) too common and graduate salaries in that range.

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Post ID: @qql+1c5w3YHY

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