How Ross Perot Created the Information Age

We lost a unique and visionary American in Ross Perot. We so often see Ross in the red, white and blue colors of an earlier America. Deservedly so. Here are notes from his Horatio Alger life story: Texarkana newspaper boy; midshipman shaking lands with Dwight Eisenhower at graduation; leading salesman for IBM, fulfilling his sales quota for the year on Jan. 2; Fortune cover boy as the nation's first tech entrepreneur; advocate for Vietnam POWs; honored by the nation's Joint Chiefs of Staff for working to make sure every American wounded in combat received the health care treatment needed; independent candidate for president of the United States garnering the most popular votes ever by a independent candidate for the highest office in the land; humanitarian and philanthropist; devoted husband to the love of his life Margot; father to five wonderful children and 16 grandchildren. It is as if he stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting and lived the American Dream.This portrait should not prevent us from losing sight of the truly visionary 21st century leader he was. He created the entire industry we now call the Information Age. IBM led the creation of the computer hardware industry that helped America win World War II. Ross created a company, Electronic Data Systems, that understood the next step was to marry hardware and software to transform pencil-and-paper business processes to electronic signals. This meant work could be accomplished faster, more efficiently and effectively, unleashing American business productivity and the innovation economy.This also allowed implementation of visionary national public policy ideas, such as health care for all senior citizens and health care for the most needy. Medicare and Medicaid meant claims had to be submitted, reviewed and approved. Without data processing, policy ideals could not have been implemented. EDS under his leadership married hardware with software and a business mind-set of solving problems. We now call that computer services.He talked about building a company, and that he did, first at EDS and then again at Perot Systems, attracting talented people like Morton Meyerson, Tom Walter, Bill Gayden, Les Alberthal, Jeff Heller and Davis Hamlin. He phrased that as "gathering eagles one at a time."So yes, he was a company builder, but he was even more; he was an industry creator. In the beginning there was Tom Watson of IBM and Ross Perot. He prepared the soil for the Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Michael Dells of the world to bloom and flourish.  Continue reading...

Copyright The Dallas Morning News
Contact Us