Anyone who followed the personal computing boom of the 1980’s is familiar with the extraordinary example of start-up Compaq. What began as a rough sketch of a PC — on a napkin at Houston’s famed “House of Pie,” no less — led to the first legally reverse-engineered IBM computer and first year sales that exceeded $100 million, a record at the time. this company would go on to break a number of records throughout the 80’s, all under the helm of co-founder Rod Canion, who acted as President and CEO of Compaq until 1991. In 1986, Compaq became the youngest company to earn the illustrious “Fortune 500” title, and the following year it became the youngest to reach $100 billion in total revenue.
Compaq was able to take on behemoth IBM web server because their computers were compatible with IBM software, and in time, offered newer and more advanced features at a similar price point. Even as other, less expensive IBM clones came on to the market, consumers remained loyal to Compaq for the reliability of their products, the quality of their engineering, and their reputation for innovation. Arguably still more impressive, however, is the continued fondness and nostalgia of the thousands of people that Compaq employed throughout its nearly 20 year run. (The company was acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 2002). When Canion left his position, 150 employees spontaneously protested, going so far as to take out a full page newspaper ad declaring, “Rod, you are the wind beneath our wings!” One need only take a look at the comments of YouTubers to see that those sentiments have not changed with time: “Those were the days. I miss them. Great people. Great times. Historic success.”
This month, Compaq celebrates its 30 year anniversary and we are thrilled to be a part of the celebration. BenBella has partnered with beloved co-founder and former CEO of Compaq Rod Canion on his upcoming title, The Compaq Revolution. In this exciting tell-all, Canion will share his account of how he conceived and built one of the most successful and well-regarded businesses of the 20th century.
Check out this hilarious video of Canion and other Compaq executives “rapping” in a music video. (And you wonder why employee morale was so high?)