This Day in Tech History

On This Day . . .

A Dell is Born

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February 23, 1965:

Michael Dell is Born

 

 

 

Michael Saul Dell (born February 23, 1965) is the founder and CEO of Dell Inc., one of the world’s leading sellers of personal computers (PCs).

Dell purchased his first calculator at age seven and encountered his first teletype machine in junior high, programming the latter after school. At age 15, after playing with computers at Radio Shack, he got his first computer, an Apple II, which he promptly disassembled to see how it worked.

Dell attended MemorialHigh School in Houston, selling subscriptions to the Houston Post in the summer. While making cold calls, he noted that the persons most likely to purchase subscriptions were those in the process of establishing permanent geographic and social presence; he then targeted this demographic group by collecting names from marriage and mortgage applications. Dell earned $18,000 that year, exceeding the annual income of his history and economics teacher.

Michael Dell at Dell Computers' production facility in Austin, 1989. Age 24,

Michael Dell at Dell Computers’ production facility in Austin, 1989. Age 24,

 

While a freshman pre-med student at the University of Texas at Austin, Dell started an informal business putting together and selling upgrade kits for personal computers in Room 2713 of the DobieCenter residential building. He then applied for a vendor license to bid on contracts for the State of Texas, winning bids by not having the overhead of a computer store.

In January 1984, Dell banked on his conviction that the potential cost savings of a manufacturer selling PCs directly had enormous advantages over the conventional indirect retail channel. In January 1984, Dell registered his company as “PC’s Limited”. Operating out of a condominium, the business sold between $50,000 and $80,000 in upgraded PCs, kits, and add-on components. In May, Dell incorporated the company as “Dell Computer Corporation” and relocated it to a business center in North Austin. The company employed a few order takers, a few more people to fulfill them, and, as Dell recalled, a manufacturing staff “consisting of three guys with screwdrivers sitting at six-foot tables”. The venture’s capitalization cost was $1,000.

Dell Precision 386 from 1992

Dell Precision 386 from 1992

 

In 1992 aged 27, he became the youngest CEO to have his company ranked in Fortune magazine’s list of the top 500 corporations.  In 1996, Dell started selling computers over the Web, the same year his company launched its first servers. Dell Inc. soon reported about $1 million in sales per day from dell.com.  In the first quarter of 2001, Dell Inc.reached a world market share of 12.8 percent, passing Compaq to become the world’s largest PC maker.

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