Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Dell Reflects on 25 Years of PCs 198

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the looking-back dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Michael Dell, founder of the world's largest computer company, took a few minutes with CNet News.com to reflect on the past 25 years and offer a few personal notes. While Dell certainly has an impressive business history, he still thinks the best is yet to come. From the article: 'Michael Dell started off using PCs to create homework shortcuts, the way many young people at the time discovered the new devices. Few people, including Dell's parents, realized exactly how large the potential was for the personal computer. More than 20 years after he founded PC's Limited, he admits his parents never quite embraced his decision to leave the University of Texas at Austin to start the company that would eventually bear his name and record $56 billion in revenue during its last fiscal year.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Dell Reflects on 25 Years of PCs

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @03:10PM (#15868694)
    "More than 20 years after he founded PC's Limited, he admits his parents never quite embraced his decision to leave the University of Texas at Austin to start the company that would eventually bear his name and record $56 billion in revenue during its last fiscal year.'"

    Did they "embrace" the money?

  • by Bandman (86149) <bandman@gm a i l . com> on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @03:12PM (#15868713) Homepage
    "...but think about what could have happened if you'd have stayed in school"
  • by truthsearch (249536) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @03:17PM (#15868757) Homepage Journal
    His skill was in streamlining a business model. AFAIK he hasn't done anything directly to improve computers. He helped lower the cost to consumers. He deserves a lot of business credit, but I'm not sure he deserves any geek cred. He's already been written up in BusinessWeek. I don't think he warrants a /. article.
    • No geek credit for sure.
    • I disagree (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Shivetya (243324)
      It is through the streamlining of purchasing computers that led to more standardization across components. It also led to innovations in cooling and airflow, integration, and ease of use. They have to find new ways to keep people coming back. This means more features, easier access to the features, and easier use. This just doesn't happen. The market has to be there or be invented.

      While Mr. Dell might not have been personally in the design process of every machine I bet he did have some influence over
      • Re:I disagree (Score:3, Interesting)

        by quanticle (843097)

        It is through the streamlining of purchasing computers that led to more standardization across components.

        Oh, is this why Dell computers all have proprietary cases, motherboards, and power supplies? Dell has not done anything to improve standardization in terms of physical components. Dell has simply continued the tradition set by HP, Compaq, and others of creating and using propretary components whenever possible in order to keep the consumer coming back to them and them only when components fail.

      • Would that I did not squander my moderator points on a previous article tonight. You greatly deserve the Insightful moderation that you have recieved as well as additional moderations in the same manner.
    • Volume sales will, in general, lower the price of a commodity. Assuming that there is demand for the product, lower price will result in greater accessibility and, potentially, faster adoption rates. As there is demand for product, companies hope to innovate to win market share. In this case, Dell's lower prices and [reasonably] consistent quality has led manufacturers to compete with innovative products.

      Of course, I may have taken too much cold medicine...
  • Other dropouts... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nascarguy27 (984493) <nascarguy27@gmaCOWil.com minus herbivore> on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @03:18PM (#15868766)
    Who did well include Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. I think it's strange how 20-30 years ago, college dropouts could do so well. Now, it's almost expected to have a Bachelor's degree or even a Master's for some occupations.
    • Re:Other dropouts... (Score:4, Informative)

      by 192939495969798999 (58312) <info@NoSPAM.devinmoore.com> on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @03:25PM (#15868825) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, Gates dropped out of Harvard... that's not exactly a rags to riches story, it's more like a riches to ridiculous riches story. Dell is an equally well connected and savvy businessman, he didn't drop out and then go for it from scratch, he more than likely had a good idea that money was coming in before he dropped out. That's the key part -- make sure to have some $ coming in (with signs of more) BEFORE you drop out!
      • Yeah, Gates dropped out of Harvard... that's not exactly a rags to riches story, it's more like a riches to ridiculous riches story.

        Indeed. As a friend of mine puts it "Gates couldn't start his business in his parent's garage - until he convinced them to move the Sunday Rolls and the Monday Lincoln out of his way".
      • Re:Other dropouts... (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I knew Michael back when he was starting, and you're correct that the money was coming in before he dropped out. The guy was making about $20K/year in high school by hiring friends to help him sell subscriptions to the Houston Post at the same time as he was gray marketing IBM PCs out of his house.

        When he went to UT in 1983 (he was pre-med, IIRC, because being a doctor is "an honorable profession"), there were exactly two licensed IBM dealers in the Austin area. Since IBM allocated machines per store rath
    • by vertinox (846076)
      Well the point of their stories is that they dropped out to start their own business. No one ever got rich by getting a college degree and then sitting in a cubicle all day filling out TPS reports for a corporation.
      • Unless you try to kill yourself by running your car in the garage, have an epiphany, get hit by a drunk driver, and end up in a full body cast... If you hang in there, good things DO happen!
    • by kfg (145172) *
      I think it's strange how 20-30 years ago, college dropouts could do so well. Now, it's almost expected to have a Bachelor's degree or even a Master's for some occupations.

      This isn't a difference in the times, it's the difference between being the master or the slave. There's nothing to stop someone from dropping out of High School, founding a company and refusing to hire Phds because they haven't done any post doc work.

      As a caveat in support of your thesis, however, I'll note that's its becoming increasing

    • The times haven't changed. If you go into a job interview without much experience, then or now, someone might want to know about your education. Do you think Gates, Jobs or Dell got started in a job interview? As the interview-ee?

      If you start your own company, who cares what's expected?
    • I don't know much about Jobs' parents (I did look at the Wikipedia article on him) - but Bill Gates' folks were loaded long before Bill ever thought about creating that new company MicroSoft.

      Of course they weren't multi-billionaires; but I'd imagine it takes some of the worry away when you know there's that big financial cushion to fall back on if you fail.
    • I think it's strange how 20-30 years ago, college dropouts could do so well.

      Even 20-30 years ago, it was the exception and not the rule for a college dropout to be as successful in the business world as guys like Gates, Jobs, and Dell did.

      The thousands of other entrepreneurs who did not and could not have been as successful as they were without their college degrees do not get talked about quite as much.
  • And I have got two of our 30-inch monitors, so it's 8.2 million pixels of resolution, which is kind of nice.

    I need to convince the place I work at that if they get me setup with a 30 inch monitor, my productivity would skyrocket thru the roof!
  • by dosle (794546)
    "Ah, we at Dell have sure come a long wa-- BOOM "
  • Dell vs. HP (Score:2, Funny)

    by Sgt_Astro (848840)
    Depending on how you slice the pie Hewlett Packard is the largest PC company. When is that the case? Pretty much any other way you look at it.
  • by Anonymous Freak (16973) <prius.driver@Nospam.mac.com> on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @03:41PM (#15868960) Journal
    Discovering the joy that was a 'plotter', that produced nice smooth output, rather than the pixelated crap that came out of dot matrix printers. Found an HP letter-size plotter used really cheap, and bought it. Started printing out my homework on that, rather than on the dot matrix. The handwriting-style font that was included with Windows 3.0 worked very well for this. Plotting out my homework on notebook paper, with a blue pen, the teacher just thought I had perfect handwriting. :-D (Although, it did take about half an hour to plot out a single page....)

    My high school also had early internet access, thanks to a donation of a 'mini-supercomputer' from a local supercomputer company (Sequent,) and dial-up access provided by a local college during my senior year. This computer had a whopping 32 386 processors, (which makes it marginally slower than my current cell phone,) and our connection used a quad-linked 9600 baud (effective ~38kbps) SLIP connection. It even ran X. Too bad the web browser wasn't invented until after I graduated... I had to wait another two years before the internet became 'public', and a friend and I convinced the local ISP to install SLIP software so we could try out this 'Mosaic' thingy... (On OS/2 of course. We wouldn't be caught dead running Windows.)

    Then there was when (this same) friend would spend every night dialed up at 14.4kbps to a BBS in Finland so he could download install disks for this 'Linux' thing... One disk a night. Man, he had a big phone bill that month.
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @03:49PM (#15869025) Homepage
    If you're smart, you can get by on someone else's dime be it family, student loans, scholarships or GI bill money. It's the best time to start a business. In fact, it is the time when a young person can probably be at his or her safest while doing it. They have access to a lot of cheap help and free mentorship.
  • Do these reflections include the moment when he was suddenly inspired to decide, And I think I'll stick with Intel for the next 25 years, and then dump them piecemeal.
  • Seriously they're on FIRE!
  • > Michael Dell, founder of the world's largest computer company...

    In what alternate universe?
  • Has to be said (Score:5, Insightful)

    by johansalk (818687) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @04:56PM (#15869595)
    Had I been a Billionaire I would've been optimistic about the future too.
  • by argoff (142580) * on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @05:18PM (#15869728)
    Has anyone ever noticed how the PC industry is not like other industries - eg cell phones which are all fragmented and incompatable and the user is mostly locked out from the hardware, or even laptops - try buying a laptop case and building your own at home. Try taking a tire off a chevy and putting it on a ford, or the breaks, or even the engine.

    The PC industry is the way it is because IBM just assumed they could patent the interfaces - when they couldn't. When people started to copy them, billions and billions of dollars worth of lawsuits started to fly all over the place. IBM against Compaq, Intel aganst AMD - inspite of great effort and costs, they were given no rights to impose patents over the interface. Maybe this was a failure for IBM and Intel, but it created a nuclear explosion of business, commerce, opportunity, and R&D for the rest of us.

    The moral of the story is that patnets do not help R&D and do not help finance R&D, they help lock out competition, and force the industry to fragment and center around a licensing model (which is good for lawyers and bad for engineers) instead of a service model (which is good for engineers, but bad for monopolies).
    • Did you ever have to replace a power supply in a Dell tower? Proprietary plug.

      Did you ever try to use a case from Dell? Proprietary too.

      Enough with the starry-eyed optimism. It was plain old economics.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_PC_compatible [wikipedia.org]
      • by Paolone (939023)
        Did you ever have to replace a power supply in a Dell tower? Proprietary plug.
        The Dells we have in the testing lab have ATX power supplies (even if the PSU itself has one of the stragest shapes I've ever seen).
        Did you ever try to use a case from Dell? Proprietary too.
        Nothing that a dremel can't fix...
  • Dell 49.04B market cap
    IBM 114.64B market cap
    Dell 56.74B revenue
    IBM 88.50B revenue

    It would be nice if even some basic facts could be checked. Of course - maybe some ppl think IBM is not a computer company.
  • ARRRRRRRGH (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mittermeyer (195358) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @07:02PM (#15870423) Homepage
    I bombed out of UT Austin about the time Dell was quitting and running his biz. I knew about his company. To me my choices were look him up and get a job there, or get a computer job at a hospital.

    I figured, eh the hospital will always have money, and this kid is likely to go through ups and downs and have cash flow issues, I want the security.

    Figure out just how I feel about that.
  • I have absolutely no complaints about Dell from a business support perspective.

    Their home support is evil.

    There's a clear difference in machine quality, as well. Take two Dell machines, with nearly identical specs, one from the home line and one from the business line.

    Same specs = same computer, right? Nope. In addition to the home machine being preloaded with every piece of crap software under the sun, the business machines seem to be better quality. Larger capacitors on the motherboard, perhaps, or j

Save energy: Drive a smaller shell.

Working...