1984 – Michael Dell, a 19-year-old, pre-med college freshman starts selling computers built from stock components out of his dorm room at the University of Texas in Austin.
The company produced the first computer of its own design. PC’s Limited advertised the systems in national computer magazines for sale directly to consumers, and custom assembled each ordered unit according to a selection of options.
This offered buyer’s prices lower than those of retail brands, but with greater convenience than assembling the components themselves. Although not the first company to use this model, Limited became one of the first to succeed with it. The company grossed more than $73 million in its first year of trading.
1988 – PC’s Limited changes its names to Dell Computer Corp and goes public, raising $30 million and increasing its market capitalization to $85 million.
Fortune magazine included Dell Computer Corporation in its list of the world’s 500 largest companies. Michael Dell became the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company at the age of 27.
2004 – Michael Dell resigns as CEO but retains position as chairman to focus on his philanthropic foundation. Then-President and COO Kevin Rollins ascends.
In February 2005 Dell appeared in first place in a ranking of the Most Admired Companies by Fortune magazine. In November 2005 BusinessWeek magazine published an article about shortfalls in projected earnings and sales, with a worse than predicted third quarter financial performance. Dell acknowledged that faulty capacitors on the motherboards of the Optiplex GX270 and GX280 had already cost the company $300 million. Kevin Rollins, attributed the bad performance partially to Dell’s focus on low-end PCs.
On January 31, 2007, Kevin B. Rollins resigned as both CEO and as a director, and Michael Dell resumed his former role as CEO. Investors and many shareholders had called for Rollins’ resignation because of poor company performance.
In August 2005, Dell became the subject of an informal investigations by the U.S. SEC. In 2006, the company disclosed that the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York had subpoenaed documents related to the company’s financial reporting dating back to 2002. The company delayed filing financial reports for the third and fourth fiscal quarter of 2006, and several class-action lawsuits were filed. Dell Inc’s failure to file its quarterly earnings report could have subjected the company to de-listing from the NASDAQ, but the exchange granted Dell a waiver, allowing the stock to trade normally. In August 2007, the Company announced that it would restate its earnings for fiscal years 2003 through 2006 and the first quarter of 2007 after an internal audit found that certain employees had changed corporate account balances to meet quarterly financial targets. The SEC investigation was ongoing as of April 2010, and the Company announced that some ex-employees might face civil action from the SEC.
On March 1, 2007, the company issued a preliminary quarterly earnings report showing gross sales of $14.4 billion, down 5% year-over-year, and net income of $687 million (30 cents per share), down 33%. Net earnings would have declined even more if not for the effects of eliminated employee bonuses, which accounted for six cents per share. NASDAQ extended the company’s deadline for filing financials to May 4.
Late 2012, the world’s No. 3 PC maker enters talks with private equity firms on potential buyout deal.
2013 – Dell agrees to be taken private for $24.4 billion, or $13.65 per share, in a deal that involves private equity firm Silver Lakes, Microsoft Corp, and its Chairman Michael Dell.