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World Association of International Studies

Post EDS and Ross Perot
Created by John Eipper on 04/25/13 6:21 AM

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EDS and Ross Perot (Randy Black, USA, 04/25/13 6:21 am)

I enjoyed John Heelan's post on 24 April about the Utah Data Center that is under construction. However, he had me intrigued right up until he stated, "data service companies (such as EDS that runs many of the UK government's computer systems and data storage operations) that store their back-up data files in the US expose the UK public to all that data being inspected and acted upon by US intelligence authorities--and probably others!"

The truth be known, EDS, for which I worked for a few years in the mid-1980s, ceased to exist as an independent public corporation in 2008 when it was acquired by Hewlett-Packard. Officially, the EDS name ceased to operate as an internal HP division in September 2009.

When I went to work there in 1982, I was employee 8012. At its height, EDS employed 136,000 globally. The firm was the idea of H. Ross Perot, a Texas born and raised salesman who once earned more on commission sales at IBM than the CEO of Big Blue.

When that CEO heard that a short in stature, short-haired graduate of the US Naval Academy had earned more than he had, the CEO put a limit on how much any salesman could earn in a year and that amount was set below his own base salary. Ross, as we all called him, hit that level by February 1962.

"I didn't want to work the rest of the year for nothing, so I quit and founded EDS in June 1962."

RB: EDS had a reputation for military rules, integrity, dress code and performance.

Of the firms, small and large, for whom I worked in my career, surprisingly, I had more creative freedom at EDS than at any firm I ever worked for. Wings of Eagles: Perot spent millions out of his own pocket to free two EDS employees who were imprisoned in Tehran during the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The two were being threatened with hanging by their captors. Perot personally traveled (in disguise) to Iran and into the country's largest prison to give his employees a heads up of the pending raid. The trip cost millions out of his personal funds and was not tax deductible. When he asked for volunteers to go on that dangerous raid, deep in enemy territory, there were too many to take along. There was only one non-EDS person and he was the mission's leader, Col. (ret) Bull Simon, a retired Green Beret.

Later, I was fortunate to be selected to help with the final research that contributed to Ken Follett's best seller, which later was made into a movie.

I ask WAISers if they know of any CEO anywhere who would risk his own life by going into a hostile nation in the midst of a revolution to warn his employees to be ready to break out when their comrades showed up a few weeks later? It was an honor to be associated with Ross Perot. I'd work for him again. However, I'd ask for more money than I did the first time around.

JE comments: What's Ross Perot up to these days?  The summer I worked for General Motors (1989) coincided with EDS's GM era (1984-1996).  Perot was notorious at that time for being a thorn in the side of the much-maligned GM CEO, Roger Smith.  (I just checked, and Smith died in 2007.)

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  • EDS and Ross Perot (John Heelan, -UK 04/26/13 1:43 AM)
    Randy Black (25 April) is correct of course when he writes that the EDS brand name disappeared when it was subsumed by HP in 2009. As the computer press reported at the time, "EDS was renowned for its success in winning major government IT projects, including deals with the Department for Work and Pensions, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Justice--although its has at times also been synonymous with troubled Whitehall IT projects such as tax credits and the Child Support Agency."


    HP Enterprise Services took over many of those UK government contracts and, no doubt, lodges its back-up data in the US, so my point about US intelligence and policing authorities being enabled by the Patriot Act to examine that UK data still stands.

    Ross Perot was recognised as a maverick by the computer industry in the 1960s to '90s--I competed against EDS' good machines for many years--and earned kudos for his Iran venture.

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