CEO and founder of Dell
What was the moment that first got you excited about the potential of technology?
From the time I was seven years old, I was captivated by the idea of a machine that could compute things. I remember being fascinated with my father's adding machine. I would type in an equation, it made some really cool noises, and out came my answer with minimal effort or time.
My first experience with an actual computer came in junior high school when my math teacher brought in our school's first teletype computer terminal. Those of us who were interested in learning about the computer could stay after school to play around with it - we'd write programs and do calculations.
In both cases, the machines did the tactical work while I dreamed up more complex problems for them to solve. That's still the benefit of IT today - computing power combined with our limitless ability to create, innovate and imagine is driving progress on a global scale. And that's very exciting to me.
What are your memories of your first computer?
I bought my first computer when I was fifteen. I had been hanging out at the local Radio Shack, using their computers and saving money to buy my own. The first thing I did when I got that computer home was take it apart to understand exactly how it worked.
I would spend the next several years figuring out how to enhance computers to make them more powerful by adding memory, hard drives and faster modems. I'd sell them for a profit, buy my next one and start the process over. Eventually, I started buying the components in bulk from distributors to reduce costs. My mother said my room looked like a mechanic's shop.
At the same time, I ran what back then was called a Bulletin Board System, which was a way of electronically connecting with other early computing adopters via a modem and phone line. We shared code, posted messages, exchanged news and formed connections. Prehistoric social media, if you will.
What modern technology do you wish you had growing up with and why?
I've learned that technology on its own isn't what really matters. What's important is how technology empowers and benefits people. So I would have loved having fibre to the home, cloud computing and the incredible compute power we have in datacentres today at my fingertips when I was growing up.
I look at the information, tools and new ways that my own children collaborate, and I'm astounded at the potential we've enabled for them. Advancements like personalised learning, the ability to connect in real time with peers in any part of the world and ubiquitous access to information are changing the way we all live, play and work.
What really excites me is the opportunity to wake up each day and be part of the most dynamic industry I know of. After all, IT is really all about giving people the power to achieve and do what matters most to them.