Interactive Timeline An American Success Story

Scroll the years to explore inspirational events defining Ross Perot’s legacy or jump to a decade using the dates on the right

Scroll the years to explore inspirational events defining Ross Perot’s legacy

"The American dream. Those three short, simple words encompass the hopes and aspirations of all the peoples on earth. The words are not only short and simple. They are also fragile."

Ross Perot (1992). "United We Stand: How We Can Take Back Our Country"


Born in Texarkana, Texas, son of Gabriel Ross and Lulu May Perot.

teen Ross Perot riding horse

What was life like in 1930?

  • U.S. population was 123 million

  • Gasoline was 20 cents per gallon

  • Unemployment rate reached 25%


Graduates from high school and attends Texarkana College.


A midshipman at U.S. Naval Academy, where he twice is elected president of his class at Annapolis.

Look for Ross Perot in this class photo from the U.S. Naval Academy


Graduates from the Naval Academy and is shipped out as a junior officer on the destroyer USS Sigourney.


Transfers to the USS Leyte, an aircraft carrier.

USS Leyte


Marries Margot Birmingham, whom he met on a blind date his senior year at the Naval Academy. She attends nearby Goucher College.

Ross and Margot Perot kissing

View images of Ross and Margot Perot together over 50 years later


Leaves the Navy and takes a sales job with IBM in Dallas.

Ross Perot and fellow students in IBM Applications Class #3748
portrait of Ross Perot while working at IBM

View the Outstanding Graduates of the IBM Sales Class #4176

Outstanding Graduates from IBM Sales Class #4176


Starts Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS) on June 27, 1962.

Ross Perot and members of Electronic Data Systems Corp.
Ross Perot at Electronic Data Systems Corp.
$1,000 check that launched Electronic Data Systems Corp.

View the check for $1,000 that launched an iconic career


EDS becomes a publicly traded company on Sep. 12, 1968.


Works to improve the treatment of American prisoners of war in Southeast Asia.

Ross Perot in Vietnam

View video of Ross Perot’s work on behalf of American POWs


Receives Defense Department’s Medal for Distinguished Public Service in recognition of his support of POWs.

Ross Perot and POW families
Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service awarded to Ross Perot

View a letter of appreciation from an American soldier present during the U.S. raid on the Son Tay prison camp

Letter of appreciation from an American soldier


Organizes the rescue of two EDS employees held in an Iranian prison.

Ross Perot after rescuing EDS employees from an Iranian prison

View a scene from the 1986 mini-series On Wings of Eagles based on the Iranian prison rescue


Heads Republican Gov. Bill Clements’ anti-drug policy committee. In 1981, Texas Legislature passes the committee’s proposals, including tougher sentences for drug dealers, a forfeiture law to seize financial assets of dealers and a crackdown on certain shops that sold drug paraphernalia.

Bill and Rita Clements with Margot and Ross Perot

Gov. Bill Clements and wife Rita with Margot and Ross Perot


Heads Democratic Gov. Mark White’s education advisory committee. In 1984, Texas Legislature passes committee’s reforms, including class size limits in elementary schools, prekindergarten classes for disadvantaged children, high school graduation tests and a ban on sports and extracurricular activities for students who fail any course – the "no pass, no play" rule.


General Motors acquires EDS, becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of GM. In 1986, in accordance with a buyout agreement, resigns from GM board of directors.

Roger Smith, Chairman of General Motors Corp., and Ross Perot

Roger Smith, chairman and CEO of General Motors, and Ross Perot

Roger Smith, Chairman of General Motors Corp., and Ross Perot

Roger Smith, chairman and CEO of General Motors, and Ross Perot


Receives the Winston Churchill Award, presented by Britain’s Prince Charles and first lady Nancy Reagan.

Britain’s Prince Charles, First Lady Nancy Reagan, and Ross Perot
Britain’s Prince Charles putting the Winston Churchill Award medal on recipient Ross Perot

Take a closer look at the Winston Churchill Award

The Winston Churchill Award medal


Forms with his son, Ross Jr., and other associates, a new technology services company headquartered in Dallas: Perot Systems Corp.

Founders embarking on a trip to start up Perot Systems

View images of Ross Perot and his son through the years


Enters presidential race as an independent on Feb. 20, 1992. Finishes third, with 18.9% of the national vote, the best independent showing since Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose total in 1912.

Ross Perot at a campaign rally in Dallas

View Ross Perot’s "We Can Do It" campaign video


Creates United We Stand, a non-partisan research and educational group to study domestic problems and press for economic and government reform.

Group Picture of UWSA


Runs for president as Reform Party nominee, favoring tax reform, congressional term limits, a balanced federal budget and an overhauled health care system. Finishes third with 8% of the vote.

Ross Perot with Presidential Sticker

View other bumper stickers from Ross Perot’s 1996 campaign

Vote Perot 1996


Perot Systems becomes a publicly traded company on Feb. 2, 1999.

Perot Systems goes public

View more on Perot Systems


The five Perot children give a $50 million gift for the new branch of the Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas in honor of their parents, Margot and Ross Perot. It is named the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.

Perot family at the Perot Museum


Dell acquires Perot Systems on Sep. 21, 2009.

Perot Systems sales Dell


The Perot family businesses open new offices on Turtle Creek in Dallas.

Perot Office