Founder of Dell Computer Corp.
Founded: 1984 "You don't have to be a genius or a visionary or even a college graduate to be successful. You just need a framework and a dream."-Michael Dell Michael Dell wasn't the only young entrepreneur to ride the computer boom of the late 1980s and early 1990s from rags to riches. Like Rod Canion of Compaq and Steve Jobs of Apple, Dell turned a fledging start-up into a multibillion-dollar computer empire. But unlike the ill-fated Canion and Jobs, who lost control of their creations as they grew, Dell has managed to hold on to the reins of his maverick venture and achieve the unique distinction of being the computer industry's longest-tenured CEO. Following the simple idea that by selling customized personal computer systems directly to customers he could best understand their needs and provide the most effective computing solutions to meet those needs, Dell has made Dell Computer Corp. the world's leading direct computer systems company. Dell's parents wanted him to be a doctor. But by the time he was in junior high, Dell was hooked on computers. While most of his classmates were tinkering under the hoods of old cars, Dell loved to tinker with his Apple IIe. To please his parents, Dell enrolled as a premed student at the University of Texas in 1983, but by then his only real interest was in computers. During his first semester, Dell spent his spare time buying up remaindered, outmoded PCs from local retailers, then upgrading and selling them from his dorm room. He was so successful, that one day his roommate piled his ever-growing inventory up against