entrepreneur, founder of Dell Computer Corporation
Birthplace: Houston, Tex.
Having begun selling computers out of his dorm room at the University of Texas, Dell pioneered the concept of selling computers directly to consumers, built to their specifications and without the added costs of retail distributors. The idea has proven to be quite profitable, and has been belatedly adopted by other computer makers who are struggling to keep up with Dell Computer Corporation's phenomenal success. By targeting educated consumers (i.e., corporations and government agencies), Dell is able to avoid the expense of heavy investments in building and maintaining retail channel sales and the after-sale burden of supporting unsophisticated users, though the company has a well-deserved reputation for its technical support services. He wisely passes this savings on to consumers, who have returned the favor by becoming repeat customers.