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Starting a Business

3 Decades of Dell: From Dorm Room Inspiration to Multi-Billion Dollar Acquisition

Entrepreneur Staff
Director of the Entrepreneur Partner Studio
min read

Dell Inc. announced today that founder Michael Dell, along with Menlo Park, Calif.-based investment firm Silver Lake, have agreed to acquire the tech powerhouse for approximately $24.4 billion, effectively taking the company private. Tech giant Microsoft is also part of the buyer's consortium, contributing $2 billion in the form of a loan.

As a private company, it's expected that Michael Dell will have a new opportunity to position the Round Rock, Texas-based company against its rivals, including China's Lenovo, and to push the PC manufacturer further into the tablet and smartphone markets.

The deal is subject to a number of conditions, including certain regulatory approvals and a vote of unaffiliated stockholders. If all conditions are met, the transaction could close before the end of the first half of Dell's fiscal year 2014, the company says.

Related: Zipcar: From Business Idea to IPO to $500 Million Buyout

Founded nearly 30 years ago by Michael Dell -- then a 19-year-old college student -- Dell Inc. quickly rose to the top among PC manufacturers for consumers as well as business users. Here's a look back at the company's history and accomplishments:

1984: Michael Dell -- a 19-year-old pre-med freshman at the University of Texas at Austin -- has an idea for a new computer business he believes will change the way computers will be designed, manufactured and sold. With $1,000, he founds a company called PC's Limited.

1985: Dell designs and builds his first computer system: the Turbo PC. It featured an Intel 8088 processor running at 8MHz, a 10MB hard drive and a 5.25-inch floppy drive (remember those?).

1986: Dell releases what it says is the industry's fastest performing PC: a 12MHz, 286-based system.

1987: The company opens its first international subsidiary in the United Kingdom.

1988: After just four years, Dell goes public, raising $30 million in its IPO.

1989: Dell releases its first laptop computer, the 316LT.

1993: The "Dimension" and "OptiPlex" desktops debut for consumer and business users. Dell expands into the Asia Pacific region.

1996: The company launches, which generates $1 million in sales per day six months after going live, Dell says.

1997: Dell ships its 10-millionth PC.

2000: It incorporates built-in Wi-Fi on its computers. Sales at reach $40 million per day.

2003: The company expands its product portfolio with Dell-branded printers.

2004: Dell becomes China's third largest provider of computer systems and services. Michael Dell steps down as CEO but stays on as chairman of the board.

2006: The company acquires computer gaming company Alienware. Dell's share price experiences steady decline, and the company loses its lead in the PC market to Hewlett-Packard. Analysts suggest Dell needs to expand further into non-PC businesses segments.

2007: Michael Dell returns to his role as CEO. He begins a new phase in the company he calls "Dell 2.0," which includes diversifying product offerings and reducing the company's workforce. The "Vostro" family of computer products becomes Dell's flagship line for small businesses. Dell launches carbon-neutral programs for consumers and corporate customers.

2008: The company acquires storage firm EqualLogic. It launches the "Dell Latitude" line of laptops for business users and creates its first Modular Data Center for cloud-computing applications.

2009: Dell acquires Perot Systems and launches a new business called Dell Services, offering end-to-end IT services. Enters the smartphone market with the Mini 3i from China Mobile.

2010: Its first tablet, called the Streak (the device was 5 inches), launches.

2011: Dell acquires enterprise solutions companies Secure Works, RNA Networks and Dell Force10 Networks. It commits $1 billion to develop Dell data and solution centers around the world and records the largest single-year revenue increase in company history, it says.

Related: The Value of Creativity: Adobe Buys Portfolio Platform Behance 

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