JANUARY 2: Dell debuts

Dell Inc founder Michael Dell

ON THIS DATE in 1984, eighteen-year-old Michael Dell registered the Dell Computer Corporation in Austin, Texas.

As a freshman at the University of Texas, Dell had been studying to be a doctor — in theory. In reality, he spent more time building and selling computers than going to class, which led to a showdown with his father, who asked Michael what he wanted to do with his life? “I want to compete with IBM!” said the younger Dell, referring to International Business Machines, the highly successful computer manufacturer.

Young Michael Dell

Young Michael Dell

On January 2, 1984, Dell incorporated his company, rented office space in downtown Austin, and cranked up a computer business that took orders directly from customers. That allowed Dell to sell his product for the low rate that stores usually paid a manufacturer, making the computers less expensive than most brands.

The company did stellar business from the start, with sales rising by 250 percent each of the first four years. By 1991, Dell had become the fifth-largest computer company in the United States. A year later the twenty-six-old business magnate became the youngest CEO (Chief Operating Officer) to rank on the Fortune 500 list.

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