The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg news published obituaries that saluted the achievements of John R. Opel, the chief executive at IBM (NYSE: IBM) from 1981 to 1985.

Opel, 86, died on Thursday.

The Times and Bloomberg obituaries cited a Time magazine article that credited Opel from turning IBM into a “Colossus.”

Having risen through the ranks to become CEO, Opel was called “the consummate organization man” by the Journal.

The Times noted that Opel “presided over I.B.M. in its final period of dominance in the information-processing industry and oversaw the company’s move into personal computers.”

IBM’s PC division ultimately was based in Raleigh and the Research Triangle. The group was sold to Lenovo in 2005. Lenovo maintains its executive headquarters in Morrisville.

The Times noted that the federal government dropped a 13-year-old antitrust lawsuit against IBM a year after he took over as CEO. The move was crucial, the decision “freeing the company to compete more aggressively,” The Times said.

“Compete it did. Revenue nearly doubled during Mr. Opel’s tenure, to the point that by the end of it, competitors were publicly complaining that IBM was too powerful. In 1983, Time magazine featured Mr. Opel on its cover with the headline “The Colossus That Works.’”

Bloomberg also noted the Time story which said IBM “has been acting like its brashest competitors — entering new markets, chasing the latest technology, trimming organizational fat and selling more aggressively than ever.”

Added the news service: “IBM shares returned 117 percent during Opel’s four-year tenure as chief, more than five times that of the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.”

Read the Times obituary here.

Read the Bloomberg obituary here.

Read the Journal obituary here. (Subscription required.)

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