The story of Compaq, a company that once stood as a giant in the world of personal computing, is a fascinating tale of innovation, competition, and ultimately, consolidation. Founded in 1982, Compaq was instrumental in the development of the PC industry, introducing several groundbreaking products and setting new standards for quality and performance. But who were the visionaries behind this influential company? In this article, we delve into the lives and contributions of the founders of Compaq: Rod Canion, Jim Harris, and Bill Murto.

The Early Days of Compaq

Compaq was founded by three senior managers from Texas Instruments: Rod Canion, Jim Harris, and Bill Murto. The trio left their secure jobs with the intention of starting a company that could compete with IBM, the dominant player in the PC market at the time. With an initial investment of $1,000 each, they set up shop in a small office in Houston, Texas.

Rod Canion: The Visionary Leader

Rod Canion served as the CEO of Compaq from its inception until 1991. Under his leadership, Compaq became the fastest company in American history to reach $1 billion in revenue. Canion was known for his strategic thinking and ability to anticipate market trends. He was instrumental in the development of the Compaq Portable, the company’s first product and the first 100% IBM PC compatible computer.

Jim Harris: The Operations Expert

Jim Harris was the operational backbone of Compaq. As the Chief Operating Officer, he was responsible for overseeing the company’s manufacturing, distribution, and supply chain operations. Harris’s operational expertise was crucial in enabling Compaq to meet the high demand for its products and maintain its competitive edge.

Bill Murto: The Sales Guru

Bill Murto, the third co-founder of Compaq, was the company’s sales and marketing whiz. He played a key role in establishing Compaq’s brand and driving its sales growth. Murto left Compaq in 1987 to pursue a career in education, but his contributions to the company’s early success cannot be overstated.

Compaq’s Groundbreaking Innovations

Under the leadership of Canion, Harris, and Murto, Compaq introduced several groundbreaking products. The Compaq Portable, launched in 1983, was the first fully IBM PC compatible portable computer. This was followed by the Compaq Deskpro, the first computer to use Intel’s 80386 microprocessor, and the Compaq LTE, one of the first notebook-style computers. These innovations helped Compaq to establish itself as a leading player in the PC market.

The Legacy of Compaq’s Founders

Despite facing stiff competition from IBM and other PC manufacturers, Compaq thrived under the leadership of its founders. By the time Canion left the company in 1991, Compaq had become the largest supplier of PC systems in the world. The company was eventually acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 2002, but the legacy of its founders lives on. Their vision and entrepreneurial spirit continue to inspire entrepreneurs and innovators around the world.

In conclusion, the founders of Compaq – Rod Canion, Jim Harris, and Bill Murto – were instrumental in shaping the PC industry. Their innovative products, strategic vision, and operational excellence helped Compaq to become a dominant player in the market and left a lasting impact on the world of technology. Their story serves as a reminder of the power of innovation, the importance of strategic thinking, and the value of operational efficiency in the world of business.


Alex likes to write about anything related to technology, marketing and gadgets. He sometimes reviews the latest tech and also writes on other blogs.