Funny Business with Jane Wells

Whoa! Time to Bring Back the Dell Dude?

Michael Dell
Getty Images

Michael Dell wants to take his company private and try to restore it to its glory days.

Dude, you're getting an LBO.

Years before Mark Zuckerberg thought of borrowing Friendster's idea and starting Facebook, long before Steve Jobs turned a computer into a phone, Dell was hip. It was hip because Steven made it so.

Steven was a goofball spokesman played by actor Ben Curtis. I always thought of him as "Spicoli Lite" (and if you don't know who Spicoli is, I really am old). Steven's famous tagline was, "Dude, you're gettin' a Dell." Curtis was only 19 when he first signed on for the role in 2000 while a student at NYU.

The commercials were a huge hit. The Wall Street Journal said at the time they helped Dell gain market share. My favorite ad is the one where Steven convinces a mother to buy her son a Dell. "Right now," he says cheerily, "it comes with your choice of a printer or a Palm m100." Plus, you could get six months "of DellNet internet access from MSN for just $999."

Wow. I can't believe we ever thought $999 for six months of internet access was a deal. Dial-up.

Curtis played Steven for three years, but it all ended after he was arrested for trying to buy a bag of marijuana in Manhattan. He was reportedly wearing a kilt at the time because he'd just come from a Scottish themed party. "Dude, you're gettin' a cell!" was the email joke that went around. (Jokes were circulated by email back then.) The charges were dropped, but Dell and Curtis still parted ways. Curtis later told a local newspaper, "It was bad timing as far as Dell was concerned, but it was the best thing that happened to me because it was the greatest learning lesson I've had in my life."

Since the end of the Dell campaign, you haven't seen a lot of Curtis, though you have seen more of his co-stars. Look at this Dell commercial-- the woman in the car with "Steven" is Maggie Grace of "Lost" and "Californication."

Curtis has spent the last decade appearing in plays and landing some small roles. He runs a website, and he recently starred in a little film with a pot-smoking Richard Chamberlain called "We are the Hartmans."


Steven's back. At least he'd like to be.

Curtis wants his old job. In January, a few days after reports surfaced that Microsoft might help Michael Dell take the company private, Curtis tweeted, "Hey Guys, go crazy - tweet and facebook Dell Computers if you want to bring me back. Their twitter acct is @DellComputes"

The only problem is the Dell twitter account he pointed to isn't really for Dell. It doesn't appear to be for anything. Perhaps he tweeted this from his Palm m100.

Personally, I loved the Steven ads and wishes they'd return with Curtis as a grown adult in some hilarious new campaign. Nothing Dell ever did was as memorable. Let's do it! I mean, Jared is still around for Subway, and Steven is way cooler than Jared. He's also cooler than that ridiculous gecko for GEICO. And Flo from Progressive. And the AFLAC Duck. Dude, seriously.

(Read More: Iconic Brands That Disappeared)

—By CNBC's Jane Wells; Follow her on Twitter: @janewells