Dell Computers: Michael Dell


Long before for anyone heard of the tech underpins like Mark Zuckerberg. Evan Spiegel ORC. Trina Lake back before it was fashionable to drop out of college to pursue your startup even before people used the term startup back in the ancient days of the one thousand nine hundred eighty s the dorm room miracle story. You've heard of was Michael Dell's now today. The company is enormous beyond enormous worth billions of dollars Dell has sold more than six hundred fifty million computers since Michael founded in one thousand nine hundred eighty four. And what's amazing about. This isn't the money it's not even the idea. What's amazing easing about all this? Well Michael Dell. Because he's not a backslapping sales guy. He doesn't come across as particularly charismatic. He's actually on the quiet side. Maybe even a little shy Michael grew up in Houston in the nineteen seventies was just as digital technology was taking off in that city with companies like Texas instruments and then later Compaq. His Dad was a doctor. His mom was financial consultant and the expectation was that Michael. Michael would become a doctor like his dad. But even from a young age Michael Dell felt pulled in a different direction he was into numbers. I mean I remember when I was small child. My Dad had this adding machine victor adding machines before the electronic calculator and I was was just fascinated that you could add up numbers with this machine and really big numbers and and it would make this like mesmerizing sound every time it did it and I just kind of love that and then I remember when I was about Seven or eight years old. I bought a calculator. I it was the first semiconductor based calculators and I was fascinated that this small machine could do complicated math problems so yeah I got I got very interested in this stuff it also turned out that about equidistant between my junior high school and our and our house there was a radio shack store and so when I was riding my bike home I could stop by the radio shack next door and see the you know early forms of the of the personal computer and hang out there until the kick me out of the store and were you you know like kind of entrepreneurial as a kid yeah I kind of liked business And I had all kinds of businesses is selling baseball cards Had A stamp auction. I got a job at a gold coin and jewelry store and I was to negotiate with people that were selling things and by those things the lowest possible price because the owner gave me Nia percentage of the cut and whether you also worked for the local paper for for some time. Yeah so I got this job. Working for the Houston is in Post newspaper. It doesn't exist anymore now. They think they combined with the Houston Chronicle. And my job along with hundreds of other mostly mostly you know. Teenagers was to call random people on the phone and try to sell them a subscription to the Houston Post newspaper and I observed three things the first thing I observed. Is that if you sounded like the people you were talking to. They were much more more likely to buy the newspaper from you like you. You put on a text like a heavy Texas accent. Yeah I'm not GonNa do it for you here but I think you can. You can use your imagination nation. Okay so second thing I heard was that people that were getting married. Were much more likely to buy the newspaper and then the third thing I observed is that people that were moving into a new house or residents were also far more likely to buy the newspaper. Well how did you Who was getting married and was moving in? Well you talk to them. You strike up a conversation you just call people and say and ask them about themselves. I guess this is like at that a time or perfectly happy to tell strangers personal details right. Yeah so I. I observed this and what I figured out is that in Texas. This is when you as many states when you want to get a marriage license you have to go to the county courthouse. It turns out this public information right and among the information that you give to the county court is the address you want the licensed sent to so so with this information. I devised a direct mail program where I sent letters to all of the people that had applied for marriage licenses in Sixteen County area surrounding Harris County. Which is where Houston Texas is is and I hired a bunch of my high school pals to go out to all these county courthouses and type the names in two small apple two computers and I sent a massive direct mail campaign to all those people that were applying to get marriage licenses and there were also at that time in Houston? There was a building boom. There were these very large apartment and condominium complexes that were going up and so I would go to these buildings under construction and sort of figure out who was in charge and say A. Hey I'm from the Houston Post newspaper and you know we've got this great offer where your new residence get the paper free for two weeks and all of these do is fill out the form. You're a high school student when you're doing this. Yes how much money did you walk away with. But I think it was about seventeen years old. I made a little over eighteen thousand dollars that year. This is like freakishly precocious of a of a high school senior. Like that's it's just weird that you would even no to think of doing those things I mean. Don't don't you think I didn't really think about it like that. I just it just seemed like a good idea so I was pursuing. You was working. I pull you things that didn't work but but that worked so I I kept doing eighteen thousand dollars. What did you do with that money? I mean that that must have been more money than you've ever seen in your life. I bought a BMW. So I wanted I wanted to. BMW Am. W what did the other students think of you. What did you have this reputation as like a business whiz kid in high school or or like? What did they anything about you? You know. I don't really know and I and I didn't really care So I I was sort of keeping myself and I had a few friends is but I I wasn't the most social of kids but you must have been somewhat social because you were going out and selling stuff to strangers rangers. Sure social enough to make the sale. Yeah so you are on the one hand doing this entrepreneurial stuff and then I guess you were also just really into computers. Yeah the original computer that I you know got my hands on at home was the same one everybody else had. which was the apple to apple to? Yeah Yeah and one of the beautiful things about the apple two was that all of the circuits were discrete circuits that you could understand so you could go in and start to play with those and modify them and reprogram the BIOS and upgrade the system and take it apart put it back together so something happened here around Nineteen Eighty one IBM introduced the IBM PC. And that was sort of a very important moment. Because if you dial back the clock to the late seventies early eighties in this company. IBM had a leadership of the part of the economy referred for to US Information Technology. Unlike any other company at any other time in history they were by far the dominant company so in Ibm mm-hmm introduced the IBM PC. This to me seemed to be a very important moment so I try to understand everything was going on about that and so when you took apart this. IBM PC that was selling for about three thousand dollars. As far as I could tell it was about six hundred dollars. It's worth parts. Wait you bought one and you took it apart just to check the insides out sure. Yeah Yeah what else would you do. So you gotta you gotTa take it apart. How how can you understand it if you don't take it apart philly? Most people buy computers to like you know at that time. He has to do basic you know accounting owning and word processing. You bought it to take part. Well I wanted to understand did and you know to understand it. You have to take it

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