A Modern American Success Story Comes to the Smithsonian

Dell Inc. Donates Company History to National Museum of American History
May 8, 2007
In a special ceremony today, Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell Inc., one of the world’s largest information technology companies, donated a collection of materials relating to the company’s history to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The donation includes a PC’s Limited computer from 1985, Michael Dell’s employee badge, a Dell OptiPlex GX520 built in 2005 at the company’s newest United States manufacturing facility in Winston Salem, N.C., objects used by workers at the factory and company documentation. A selection of the new Dell collection will be on temporary display in the museum’s “Treasures of American History” exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum beginning May 10.

"Treasures of American History" closed April 13, 2008.  For information about the Museum's reopening, go to our renovation page.

In discussing the donation, the museum requested objects and papers that would provide insight into Dell’s career as entrepreneur and business leader and Dell Inc. as a global company, selling products made with components from around the world. These materials will join other personal computer artifacts in the museum’s collections, including an Altair computer, a TRS-80 Model 1, a first-generation IBM PC, an Apple Lisa Computer and an original Apple Macintosh.

“Dell Inc. is an outstanding example of a modern American company succeeding in a global marketplace,” said Brent D. Glass, director of the museum. “The museum will draw on today’s donation and its extensive collections for a future exhibition examining American innovation and enterprise,” he added.

“We are proud that Dell is becoming part of the Smithsonian and part of our country’s history,” said Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell. “For more than two decades, Dell has championed the idea of putting customers at the center of American—and global—business,” he added.

Michael Dell began making personal computers while attending the University of Texas at Austin in the 1984. Soon he was so successful that he left school to run the business full time. Dell Inc., initially known as PC’s Limited and until 2003 as Dell Computer Corporation, manufactures desktop and mobile computers, workstations, servers and storage systems at seven manufacturing facilities in the United States, Brazil, Ireland, Malaysia and China.

The PC’s Limited computer from 1985 was among the first systems of the company’s own design Michael Dell produced at his small start-up firm. To accommodate the museum’s request for an early machine to be included in the donation, the company traded a brand new model for the PC’s Limited computer of a North Carolina family, complete with invoice #100.

“From the beginning, Michael Dell relied on a visionary strategy of building every system to order and providing up-to-date, leading-edge technology at competitive pricing,” said David Allison, chair of the museum’s Information Technology division. “The reason for collecting the materials is to document the success of this strategy for more than two decades,” he said.

The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. Documenting the American experience from Colonial times to the present, the museum looks at growth and change in the United States. The museum is closed for major renovations and will re-open in summer 2008. For information about the museum, please visit https://americanhistory.si.edu or call Smithsonian Information at (202) 633-1000, (202) 633-5285 (TTY).