I love the New York Times, which I read on my iPhone every morning. I get local news from the Daytona News Journal but rely on the New York Times and its 1,500 reporters to provide me with national and international news, business news and the cultural affairs of the world.
Just now, I read an interview with Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell computers. I had no prior information about his personal story, but the article gave me an introduction to Mr. Dell‘s life story and huge business success. It made me think about what makes America great and what we must continue to do and protect in order to maintain its greatness.
Michael Dell was born in 1965 to a middle-class family. His dad was an orthodontist and his mom a financial analyst. He grew up experiencing wonderful conversations around the dinner table exploring the politics of the day, finances, science and math. In school he excelled at math. He was more geeky than athletic. He hung out at RadioShack rather than the local soda shop.
At 16, he bought an IBM PC with earnings from youthful entrepreneurial activities and investments. The money came from trading baseball cards and the buying and of selling silver and gold.
To his parents’ astonishment he took the PC apart.
He figured out exactly what the different little sub-assemblies did and came to understand the nature of computers. PC’s did not have hard disks at that time. As you may remember, we used floppy disks to store information back then.
Young Michael became adept at repairing and upgrading computers; understanding all that there was to know about them. He figured out that computers were assembled from parts that were commercially available. If one were to purchase the parts to make a computer, the cost would be about one 10th of the retail price that consumers paid. He said he thought of Robber Barons when he realized how much money was being made in the industry.
Later he bought an Apple II Computer and promptly disassembled it to study the bits and learned how they work together to perform various functions.
The Computer Business
As a freshman student, he made a business out of upgrading computers for his college classmates. He said, “I got mixed up in a little side business of installing hard drives in computers to make them way more convenient to use.”
His parents, of course, expected him to succeed as a student. When they learned of his business they objected and required him to abandon his business efforts and concentrate on his studies. An obedient son, he did stop his side business for a total of ten days. He then decided that his passion was the computer business. He went to work full-time and quit college – never to graduate.
In the interview, he went on to say that he rented a little office for the work. He outgrew his rental space in just thirty days and began a business that experience phenomenal growth over many years. As you may know he is now a billionaire. He has donated over 2. 5 billion dollars to fund his charitable foundation and he is well respected in every corner.
In the article he was asked this question, “What about tech gets you excited today?”
“… while the last 35 years have been amazing, I think it’s going to pale in comparison to what’s coming.” He went on to discuss 5G, *AI,** the IoT,*** and more.
His reply hit me up alongside the head. “We have, in this country, an engine that is creating a lot of new businesses, and a lot of new innovations that are globally relevant.” He said, “That as we progress through the years, we must always ensure that this ability – the ability to start new companies by entrepreneurs should be protected.”
* 5G stands for Fifth Generation.
** Artificial Intelligence
*** The Internet Of Things is designed to connect everyone and everything including machines, objects and devices for faster and more reliable performance.