A Little Ross Perot Story On His Death

Really not sure how accurate this is. It’s a story that has been rolling around the computing industry for decades so I pass it on with that caveat. I think I have indeed seen that the computer system in the tale was revised down to something a little more suitable but that’s just me recalling someone, not actual proof.

Perot became IBM’s top computer salesman, once, he claimed, fulfilling his annual sales quota in less than three weeks. But his ideas for expanding into software and technical support were ignored, so he left in 1962 to set up his own data processing company, Electronic Data Systems (EDS), with $1,000 of savings from his wife’s teaching job (although he was always an over-enthusiastic curator of his own mythology).

So the story goes. Email – no, not internet stuff, just email within organisations – started in the early 60s. A US university wanted an email system. Perot sold them an IBM. He sold them the top, top of the line model, vastly overspecced for their email needs. The commission on which is what was used to set up EDS. And Perot was long gone from IBM by the time that overspec was realised and the system downgraded to something more appropriate.

I do not vouch for the truth of this story.

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Rhoda Klapp
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Rhoda Klapp

No such thing as an over-specced computer, just lack of vision in app selection.

I think early 60s is a leeetle early of email in any recognisable form.

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

The first recognised email was sent in 1971. But the story that it came from a Nigerian prince with $25 million he needed to get out of the country is apocryphal.

Dodgy Geezer
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Dodgy Geezer

When I started in computing in the 1980s, I heard the story of how, just as sanctions were being proposed for South Africa, that country decided to buy all the computers it thought it would need for the next 10 years before such trades were banned. And the ICL salesman who concluded the deal had no upper limit on his commission. He retired almost immediately, a very rich man…

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

Unis tend to buy top-end systems (if not supercomputers), but they usually get special ‘academic’ rates (still there for software, at least). Oxford in 1972 had a ne plus ultra ICL 1906A.

TD
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TD

Selling someone more than they need goes far beyond the computer industry. Anyone’s who’s ever gotten quotes for a kitchen remodel knows that. “Ya wanna’ new kitchen? I can give you one that’ll put Versailles to shame”. And then there’s the luxury car market.

llamas
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llamas

I once worked with a lady who had been a very early hire at EDS. She had the vanity plate EDS 28. Her tales of working with HRP were legion, and she prefaced them all by saying ‘Of course, you have to always remember that HRP is stark, raving mad . . . ‘ Her favourite concerned a year when EDS did remarkably well, and all of HRP’s direct reports were rewarded with a Mercedes as a Christmas bonus. She went home fat and happy, and showed up next morning to find a note on her desk, telling her to… Read more »

BarksintheCountry
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BarksintheCountry

So Ross was an ordinary, middle of the road, usual, normal salesman selling the “tippy-top” of the line wherever possible?