I remember my first computer: an IBM 386. Second computer, also IBM, but a 486. With my third computer I found a great deal on a Dell XPS P90, and from the unpacking of the midi-tower to plugging it in, I was in heaven. What a beast of a machine! Impressive specs (64MB of RAM!), sleek design and for an affordable price. Although, for the 15-year-old me, it was an entire summer’s worth of salary. If I had upgraded my Dell’s memory to the max, 128 MB, my entire savings account would have been blown in one fell swoop.
Trying out Vista Pro (a landscape renderer popular at that time) to benchmark my new baby, showed that I now had the fastest machine among my friends, and I could not wait to prove it to them. Playing the newest games like TIE Fighter (and later on Master of Orion and Colonization) worked flawlessly, with a silky smoothness you can only get from a brand new machine. It was like a completely new world opening up before my eyes; the possibilities were endless and there was nothing this amazing computer couldn’t handle. After that brave new foray into the world of Dell, I spent many years sticking solely to their computers, such was their impact on me as a brand.
At some point in 1984, Michael Dell was (probably) in his dormitory room, when he came up with the idea that would change the home computer market for many years to come. He realised that he could build an IBM-compatible PC from stock components, combine it with what he anticipated customers would need, and then sell directly to them. The following year he sold the first computer, Turbo PC, with an astonishing 8 Mhz Intel 8088 processor, for $795 (£560).
From there the company grew exponentially and grossed $73 million (£52 million) in their first year of trading. They opened their first international operation in Britain in 1987, and eleven others followed over the next four years.
A few years after I had bought my XPS, Dell took their business directly to the Internet and started selling their machines via their web page. This bold move hugely boosted sales.
The company has had its ups and downs, with major layoffs and a change in management on several occasions, but Dell have been a major player in the home computer industry for a little over three decades. Strengthened by their diversification and acquiring of other brands (such as Alienware in 2006) they have managed to keep a firm grip on affordable home computing, and there is no sign of that changing anytime soon.
Michael, I thank you for allowing my 15-year-old self to beat my friends.