DELL WILL CELEBRATE its 30th year in the PC business on Saturday, marking the third decade since PC system builder Michael Dell founded the company.
Starting the firm at the age of 19, Michael Dell spotted a business opportunity as a student, starting something that grew into the multi-billion dollar information technology (IT) company it is today.
Dell made money from the realisation that you could often build a better system with off-the-shelf components rather than buying a ready-made PC from a dealer.
The entrepreneur began his journey into big business in 1984 from the confines of his dormitory room while studying at the University of Texas in Austin, and soon after dropped out of college to take on the role of PC pioneer full time.
Founded as "PC's Limited" on 3 May 1984, the firm was soon building its own PC systems, and the company was gaining a reputation for producing quality kit based on the latest technology.
During the 1990s, Dell began selling direct to consumers and small businesses who flocked to buy Windows PCs at an affordable price. Four years after its inauguration, Dell completed its first public offering, raising $30 million and increasing market capitalisation from $1,000 to $85m. By 1992 Dell had joined the Fortune 500, making Michael Dell the youngest CEO on the list, and by 1996 the firm launched Dell.com, which managed to generate $1m in sales per day just six months after the website went live.
Soon, Dell was also selling into the enterprise market, building and supplying servers as well as selling desktop and laptop systems. However, since the turn of the millennium, Dell has, like many other PC vendors, found it necessary to diversify as the huge demand for new PC systems began to slow and then decline.
Consequently, the firm has expanded into printing, storage, networking and IT services, making a number of key acquisitions along the way such as Compellent, Wyse, Force10 Networks and Perot Systems, and by 2005, Dell became one of the largest IT companies on the planet and topped the list of "America's Most Admired Companies" in Fortune magazine.
The firm also ranked number one in the world as a healthcare IT services provider, according to Gartner.
More recently, Michael Dell succeeded in his bid to take the company back into private ownership, a move he claimed was necessary in order to have a free hand in restructuring to face the challenges presented by the changing IT industry landscape.
Today, Dell is still a member of the elite club of top tier IT firms due to the decisions made in the past and its reputation and trust in the brand among many computer buyers. µ