Lenovo is one of the world's largest personal technology companies, specializing in desktop computers, laptops, tablets, mobile phones and specialty equipment like supercomputers. It is also one of the newest of the major technology companies and does not yet have the brand familiarity of well-known technology firms like Apple, Dell and Samsung. Although founded in 2004 in China, Lenovo has corporate roots dating back to the 1980's.
Lenovo was originally named New Technology Developer Inc. and soon changed its name to Legend Holdings. The firm was founded in China in 1984 by Liu Chuanzi and ten colleagues. Its first product was an add-on device to provide computers with Chinese language capabilities. The Chinese Academy of Sciences provided $25,000 in funding to start the company as part of the Chinese government's early experiments with privately managed firms. The company incorporated in Hong Kong in 1988 as Legend Hong Kong to help raise capital and gain experience in a more open market.
Legend began marketing its first branded computer, the Legend PC, in 1988 to its principle customer base in China. Sales grew quickly and by 1996, the company became the market share leader for personal desktop computer sales in China. That same year, Legend also introduced its first laptop computer. By 1998, it had produced its millionth computer and in 1999 became the largest PC vendor in the Asia-Pacific region. The company extended its product line in 2002 with its first supercomputer, the DeepComp, marketed as the fastest computer available in China for the civilian market. In 2003, Legend introduced the Lenovo brand and logo for its products, in preparation for the company's expansion into markets beyond the Asia-Pacific region.
Legend formally changed its name to Lenovo in 2004 and emerged on the world stage by partnering with the Olympics. But it was a surprise announcement that same year that really put Lenovo in the global spotlight; the company acquired the Personal Computing Division of IBM. IBM's popular ThinkPad laptops were rebranded as the Lenovo ThinkPad. When the acquisition was completed in 2005, Lenovo became the world's third-largest PC firm. Subsequent acquisitions and market expansions grew Lenovo's product line to include smartphones and tablets and increased the company's presence in Europe, South America and Japan.
In 2013, Lenovo became the largest PC company and the third largest smartphone company in the world. It ranked that year as number 329 on Fortune magazine's list of the 500 largest companies. The company reached sales in 2013 of $39 billion and 54,000 employees. Jointly headquartered in Beijing, China and Morrisville, North Carolina, Lenovo has operations in more than 60 countries, sponsors 46 technology laboratories, owns more than 6,500 international patents.