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

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 Dell.com, 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 Dell.com 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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