EWI Board Member Ikram Sehgal Remembers Ross Perot, Sr.

Media Coverage | July 17, 2019

The grand old man was 89 when he lost the struggle against his cancer. The news about the demise of Ross Perot Sr. in Dallas came as a shock one is never ready and prepared for losing someone. His son Ross Perot Jr is one of my best friends.

Born in modest circumstances in Texas in 1930, a time when the country was aching under the burden of the Great Depression, Ross, Sr became a self-made billionaire because, as he said once in an interview “he lived the American dream” that dream which so many people dreamed when they left their homes for America to make a fortune. He worked from the age of seven distributing newspapers early morning before he went to school. Graduating in 1953 from the US Naval Academy he served for four years, it was here that he first learned about computers. This sparked an interest that would later make his fortune with two data processing companies which he sold in the 1990s with good profit.

Ross Perot Sr served five years in the US Navy till 1957, opting thereafter for civilian life as an IBM salesman. When the CEO of IBM found out that he was earning more than him because of sales commissions he changed the rules the next year to cap his earnings. Perot Sr reached that cap in the first month. As a salesman, he became acutely aware of the lack of services facilitating operations to the full capacity of the huge computers manufactured by IBM. The ideas he presented to the IBM management were ignored. Frustrated, Ross Sr quit in 1962. With a capital of only $1000 he formed Electronic Data Systems (EDS) and did just that. When Dr Ehsan and I visited he proudly showed us copy of that historical $1000 cheque which is wife had given him as the first investment in the venture.

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