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Back in 1967, when International Business Machines announced it had chosen Boca Raton as the site for the first of many divisions to be opened in or relocated to South Florida, then-chairman Tom Watson Jr. gave a simple reason: "The quality of life and darned good orange juice."
What he might not have realized is that IBM's presence would give rise to a high-tech corridor that continues as Florida's hub. Most interesting, though, is that this center has evolved despite South Florida's distance from major corporate centers, like New York or Los Angeles, and other recognized high-tech communities, like Silicon Valley.
Even IBM's downsizing and restructuring, which began in the late 1980s and dropped its Boca employee base from 9,500 to 500 today, has served to bolster the city's high-tech presence because executives launched start-ups and joined former competitors.
Though its presence has diminished, IBM's importance in establishing …