HORACE SMART "BUD" BEATTIE
BY ROBERT M. DRAKE, JR., AND WILLIAM RILEY
ON SEPTEMBER 6, 1993, Horace S. "Bud" Beattie, who retired as vice-president of engineering, Office Products Division of the International Business Machines (IBM) Corporation some twenty years earlier, passed away at his thoroughbred horse farm in Lexington, Kentucky. Mr. Beattie, or Bud as everyone knew him, was employed by IBM for over forty years and served as a consultant many years after he retired. Mr. Beattie received the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Medal in 1971 and the Engineering Citation of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers in 1973. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1976.
Upon elevating Bud to the level of IBM corporate vice-president in 1972, IBM Chairman Thomas J. Watson, Jr., said, "Bud, you are one of the two or three most creative engineers and inventors ever to be in IBM . . . and in addition you're a great leader of men." W. J. Maloney, retired IBM vice-president, recently commented that "everyone who knew Bud, from the chairman to the newest engineer, agreed with this appraisal of this very unique man." Mr. Maloney went on to say that ''Bud was not only the proverbial engineer's engineer but was well ahead of his time in leading and motivating an engineering division. You could never catch Bud in his office before 10:30 or 11:00 in the morning . . . because from 8:00 to 11:00 every day he went into the laboratories to keep himself abreast of
the projects and to keep in touch with all his engineers." "Bud wasn't encroaching on his managers," Maloney insisted, "he would walk around the labs and ask the project engineers what they were working on, and how it was going." If they were having problems, he would frequently suggest alternatives that might be tried and express support for their efforts and enthusiasm. Later he'd return to inquire about the progress because engineering and engineers were what made Bud happy, and it was not unusual to hear a junior engineer call this vice-president and say ''Hey Bud, I tried that suggestion we talked about, and it worked!" And, Bud Beattie took as much pleasure in this as he did in any facet of his difficult and complicated job. "He didn't like to push people . . . or order people, although he could do that too, when necessary. He liked to help and lead people. . . . That's why he was so good at his job,'' Maloney stated.
Bud Beattie joined IBM in June 1933 as a customer serviceman. By this time he was a graduate of the Hotchkiss School, had a B.A. from Williams College, and had a B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1934 he was promoted to draftsman and detailer and later to engineer. He worked in the IBM lab in East Orange, New Jersey, where he coordinated development of new products with Thomas J. Watson, Sr., founder of the IBM Corporation. During this period Bud was instrumental in the development of the IBM 709 calculating machine, viewed by many as the foundation of IBM computers. He held some significant patents in conjunction with Mr. Watson but also individually held thirty-nine U.S. patents. After successfully completing assignments as manager of product development and as lab manager in Poughkeepsie, New York, Mr. Beattie was named lab director for the new Electric Typewriter Division with headquarters in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1957. Under his guidance the IBM electric typewriter became the standard of the industry because of its quality and technology. But, Bud couldn't satisfy his creativeness with typing alone, so his labs developed new product lines for IBM—including printers, dictation equipment, copiers, and automatic storage typewriters—which forced the corporation
to change the division name from Electric Typewriter Division to Office Products Division. However, Bud's best-known creation was what T. J. Watson, Jr., called "the most totally distinct invention we've ever made as a company"—the single-element printer. "This," Mr. Watson said, "is the most significant change in typing in 120 years."
Bud personally solved many of the problems inherent in the original invention of the single-element print mechanism that not only produced the electric typewriter but became the basis for countless printers and led to IBM's memory typewriters and correcting typewriters. In a 1986 article on office communications, USA Today said Mr. Beattie "changed the office landscape forever."
Bud spent his retirement years with his wife, Lois, alternating between his winter home in Florida and his thoroughbred farm outside Lexington. His daughter, Susan Hill, is in Chevy Chase, Maryland, while his son Peter lives in Lexington, and his son William resides in Dunedin, Florida. He has four grandsons.
He served on the board of directors of the University of Kentucky Research Foundation and on the advisory council of the University of Kentucky's College of Engineering. He was a member of the Thoroughbred Club of America, the Keeneland Club, and the Lexington and Idle Hour Country Clubs.
Bud will be remembered by his friends as a brilliant man who not only never flaunted his brilliance, but was almost embarrassed by it. He was a good friend, with a quick happy laugh, who enjoyed nothing more than a good time with his good friends.