Dell at 40: A Long-Standing Commitment to Digital Innovation

From a university dorm room, to a multinational technology conglomerate, Dell Technologies has always been a brave and bold digital transformation venture

Founded May 3rd 1984 in Texas, United States, founder, chairman, and CEO Michael Dell had a vision that would lead to him owning one of the largest technology companies in the world. 

Now, at 40 years old, the company continues to power new innovation in the world of technology, with advancements in AI, cloud, data and electronics. 

As of 2024, Dell Technologies is the world's third-largest personal computer vendor by unit sales, after Lenovo and HP. We examine the company’s 40-year history and its legacy as the industry moves towards a future powered by digital progress.

The story so far

Whilst studying at the University of Texas at Austin, Michael Dell founded Dell (then PC’s Limited) with US$1,000 and a vision for how technology should be designed, manufactured and sold. 

Then a start-up, the business was designed to sell IBM PC computers built from stock components. Michael Dell believed that, by selling personal computer systems directly to customers, the company could better understand customer needs and therefore provide better solutions.

Michael Dell - Founder, Chairman and CEO of Dell Technologies

At the end of his first year at university, his business is doing so well that Michael drops out to focus on it full-time. He is now the 12th richest person in the world and has an estimated net worth of US$104bn, as of March 2024.

In 1988, Dell went public for the first time and continues to grow at roughly 80% per year. The company harnesses its newfound capital to expand its product offerings worldwide, opening manufacturing centres in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, before expanding across Asia in the mid-1990s.

Michael Dell’s dream was to make technology not only accessible, but to “enable human potential,” as he remarked on LinkedIn in 2023. His company has continued to evolve to meet that promise and is celebrated for serving both small and large businesses, whilst remaining committed to ethics.

Harnessing the power of the digital age

With a unique team behind the vision, Dell Technologies continues to commit to ambitious goals and innovating to empower its customers to achieve theirs.

In 2015, Dell acquired enterprise technology firm EMC Corporation, with both companies then becoming divisions of Dell Technologies. Dell EMC sells data storage, information security, virtualisation, analytics and cloud computing.

In 2021, Fortune stated that the company was the largest shipper of PC monitors globally and the third-largest PC vendor by unit sales worldwide. It has also been cited as one of the best and most ethical places to work, which works in tandem with its strong mission-critical cybersecurity portfolio.

Now, Dell Technologies is focused on leading the digital revolution. In 2023, the company announced one of the world’s broadest generative AI (Gen AI) infrastructure portfolio. The company witnessed a busy year of AI development and anticipated a continued enterprise evolution of Gen AI and quantum computing in 2024. 

Notable AI partnerships that the company embarked upon included partnering with Meta to advance Gen AI progress, in addition to appointing its first Chief AI Officer to facilitate accelerating growth.

“The fastest-growing workloads in our ISG business are AI and machine learning intelligence-driven,” Michael Dell said, as quoted by CRN. “It’s unlocking the power of data and it’s a wonderful thing for all of us to reimagine how our organisation and world will work as the cost of cognitive power goes to zero.”

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