Another former IBMer here, also with a 5-digit Slashdot ID. But I left years and years ago when I saw where things were headed.
Way back in the day, IBM was a technology company first. TJ Watson drove the company and took massive chances on things like the 360. IBM regularly bet the company on new ideas and regularly took chances with big projects and big ideas.
These days IBM management really has no clue where they're driving the company nor about technology. We used to have a black joke that IBM management wouldn't invest in a new technology until they saw it on the cover of Businessweek, but they've lived up to that recently.
To give you idea of what's gone wrong at IBM I'd direct you to a (paywalled) article at the WSJ from last month and summarized well at http://annexresearch.wordpress.... The key point to see how well management has performed is to look at the amount of stock IBM has outstanding. It's gone from 2.3B shares in 1995 to around 1.1B today. Do the math on how much money that represents and you can see that what IBM management has been "investing in" has been stock repurchases, not new products. That IBM management can't find anything better to do with their money shows just how out of touch with technology they are.
So call me a victim of "the classic lazy crutch of the worker" if you will, but I'm quite able to show you a raft of companies that have created innovations and value with far, far less than IBM has spent on stock repurchases.