Headquartered in Round Rock, Texas, Dell, Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL) is a manufacturer and distributor of computers, computer peripherals, and home electronics. It’s the leading provider of personal computers in the United States and ranks second globally.
Some college students spend their free time doing Jell-O shots and wrapping statues in toilet paper. Michael Dell had different plans.
While attending the University of Texas, he founded a company called PC’s Limited with a unique vision: Rather than mass-producing the same machine, why not sell directly to customers so that they get exactly what they want? The idea proved a popular one, and when the company started to gross $80,000 per month, Dell dropped out of school to focus on his business.
In 1985, the company unveiled its first computer, the Turbo PC. Freelance writer Clint Johnson was an early buyer, and as Dell burgeoned into a hugely successful business, Johnson came to realize that his $895 machine (complete with its 10-megabyte hard drive and 5.25-inch floppy drive) might have special historical value. He stored it in his attic and some time later, called Dell's PR department to ask if the company might be interested in giving him a brand new machine in exchange for his valuable relic. In response, Dell gave him a plastic coffee cup. However, in 2005, he tried again -- and got his wish.
Johnson apparently wasn’t the only person singing Dell’s praises by then; U.S. consumers chose the company as their No. 1 computer systems provider in 2002, and Dell vaulted to the top of Forbes’ list of “America’s Most Admired Companies” in 2005. These days, all of the Fortune 100 companies do business with Dell.
Dell has hit many important milestones in its multi-decade career. It unveiled its first notebook computer -- the 15-pound 316LT -- in 1989 and rolled out a notebook computer with a color display two years later. Notebook computers with built-in Wi-Fi made their debut in 2000, and the company adopted Blu-ray technology in 2006.
Plus, Dell has expanded its business over the years to include more than computers. Starting in 2003, printers became a part of its repertoire, and a year later, it launched the world’s first storage area network system, the Dell EMC/AX 100. and rolled out DellConnect, which helps it solve customers’ problems remotely(at least, the ones pertaining to Dell’s products -- it probably wouldn't do a lick of good for your leaky faucet). In 2008, it entered into talks with Microsoft to provide hardware and services for Windows® AzureTM, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform.
But despite these innovations, one of Dell’s most notable developments wasn’t a computer. It was the creation of its website, www.dell.com. Originally designed in 1994 to provide customer service and support, the website was revamped two years later as a place where customers could also order Dell’s products. In just seven months, Dell was making roughly $1 million per day from the new, shopping-friendly website -- a number that skyrocketed to a daily $50 million per day by 2000. Today, Dell has several websites that serve countries ranging from Albania to Burkina Faso -- and in 2008, Michael Dell’s net worth was reportedly $17.3 billion.
Environmental friendliness has been a continued focus for Dell, and the company has stated that it’s committed to “becoming the “greenest” technology company on the planet.” It created the first notebook computer to be listed on the EPEAT Gold standard, a designation that acknowledges the world’s most environmentally preferable computers. Moreover, its “Plant a Tree for Me” program helps customers offset environmental damage caused by carbon dioxide emissions, and its “Plant a Forest for Me” program helps enable millions of trees to be planted in sustainably managed reforestation projects. You can get a full rundown of Dell’s green achievements on the company’s website at -- you guessed it -- www.dell.com.