After attending the US Naval Academy and becoming a salesman for IBM, he went his own way, creating and building Electronic Data Systems Corp, which helped other companies manage their computer networks. With his charts, self-deprecating humor and down-home economic remedies, Perot led a Gallup Poll five months before the election with 39 percent, compared to 31 percent for incumbent Republican George H.W. Bush and 25 percent for Democrat Bill Clinton. But Perot never recovered: He received almost 19 percent of the vote but not a single Electoral College vote in 1992.
Perot's first campaign caused a rift between him and the Bush family, but on Tuesday George W. Bush, the 43rd president hailed him as an American icon.
Although he had never held public office, by the early 1990s, Perot, sensing an opportunity for an outsider campaign with an anti-Washington message, was openly talking about a presidential run.
In 1984, GM bought controlling interest in EDS for $2.4 billion ($5.9 billion today, adjusted for inflation), making Perot a billionaire. In 1962, he started his own data processing company that grew into a venture that at one time employed tens of thousands of people.
But he later re-entered the race in October. Fortune called Perot the "fastest, richest Texan" in a 1968 cover story. In the 1986 miniseries, Perot was portrayed by Richard Crenna.
As Steve Jobs lost the original power struggle at Apple and left to found NeXT, Perot invested more than $20 million.
Following his second and final bid for the presidency, Perot served as president and CEO of Perot Systems Corporation, which he founded in 1988.
"I was down in Texas taking care of business, tending to my family, (but) this situation got so bad that I decided I better get into it", he later said during a presidential debate.
Perot has left lasting effects on politics, business, and philanthropy.
The exploit was recounted in a book, "On Wings of Eagles", by Ken Follett, which became a best-seller. He was given many honorary degrees and awards for business success and patriotism. But when it became clear Buchanan would not win, Perot announced in February that he would run, should he get ballot access.
While he worked at Perot Systems in suburban Dallas, entire hallways were filled with memorabilia from soldiers and POWs that Perot had helped.
At the Perot Systems headquarters he kept mementoes, including his childhood bicycle and a walking stick believed to have belonged to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. He is survived by five children.