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Michael Dell recalls 'thrilling ride' as PC maker turns 30

Dell's founder and CEO, who took the company private last year after his turnaround stalled, says he started out with "$1,000 and a team of one."

Michael Dell Kimihiro Hoshino/AFP/Getty Images

Some 30 years after starting out "with $1,000 and a team of one," Michael Dell recalled Monday in separate notes to customers and employees the "thrilling ride that started in 1984."

"Thirty years ago I made a decision to leave school and pursue my dream. I didn't know the impact we'd have on the world," the Dell founder wrote in a letter sent out today to employees. "We innovated a better way to make, sell and support technology -- and the rest, as they say, is history."

It's been quite a history with its own share of ups and downs.

Dell was one of those luminaries -- most of whom passed from the scene long ago -- who grasped early on the potential for selling computers direct to customers. In the mid-1980s, most PCs were sold through distributors and retailers -- with prices getting marked up each step along the way. But that was the dawn of the modern personal computing age when most people were unfamiliar with technology and retailers could charge for the extra hand-holding which accompanied the sale of the machines.

But if Dell was one of the first mail-order computer makers, he didn't stay by his lonesome very long. Before long, other entrepreneurs, such as Ted Waitt at Gateway and Greg Herrick of Zeos, would help usher in the rapid growth of the direct selling model. Three years after founding his company, Dell changed its name from "PC's Limited" to Dell Computer Corporation. By 1992, Michael Dell earned new fame for becoming the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

The full text of his note to employees is below.


Happy birthday, Team Dell!

Thirty years ago I made a decision to leave school and pursue my dream. I didn't know the impact we'd have on the world. We innovated a better way to make, sell and support technology--and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today, we're six months into our next chapter as a private company, but with the same extraordinary opportunity to find a better way. We're making technology easier to buy, own and operate so our customers around the world can achieve their dreams.

The early results show building momentum and Dell on the rise. Our PC share is up worldwide for the fifth consecutive quarter. We're leading the industry in enterprise flash deployments, and leading with our security and cloud integration solutions. Our Services business is rapidly acquiring new customers and huge deals in key verticals like healthcare and finance. With 7+ billion medical images, our Unified Clinical Cloud Archive is one of the largest in the world. We are quickly bringing to market new and differentiated enterprise solutions built for the future-ready data center. And we're doing it the right way as was evident earlier this year when we were named a World's Most Ethical Company by the Ethisphere Institute.

It's been a lot of fun to take a fresh look at the business and implement changes swiftly that make us more competitive and allow us to better serve our customers. It reminds me a lot of the old days, and it energizes me to work even harder and move even faster.

Whether you've been a Dell team member for days, years or decades, I want to thank you for your contributions to our first 30 years. We have a heritage we can all be very proud of. But let's not spend too much time in the past because the future is full of promise--for Dell, for our customers, and for each of us. We've got work to do. So here's to the next 30!

Please celebrate with your team members by joining or watching the global town hall tomorrow.