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The History of Microsoft (1975-2001)

The History of Microsoft

It wasn’t too long ago that Microsoft‘s position in the market was so dominant that really everyone was using IE (internet explorer) along with Windows and Office and that space cadet pinball game (awesome). So just how did Microsoft become the face of software industry.

Started in 1975

It all started back in 1975 when Bill Gates and Paul Allen wanted to get the programming language basic working on their Altair 8800. They believed a basic interpreter will make it a lot easier for people to program on the Altair using a Keyboard.

Altair Basic

It was Microsoft’s first ever product and it took just 4kb on a paper tape. It proved to be so popular that Bill Gates sent a very angry letter to hobbyist telling them to stop copying it and passing it around for free. Microsoft developed many more forms of Basic through the early 1980’s which not only served as programming environments but also as proto operating system for home computers of the time.

First Hardware Softcard 1980

It allowed the operating system CPM which later evolved into DOS to run on Apple computers.

DOS 1981

Microsoft agreed to produce DOS for IBM IN 1981 which quickly made Microsoft a software giant. Their yearly revenue jumped from $16 million in 1981 to over $97 million a mere three years later in 1984.

Word 1983

Microsoft’s revenue grew enough more with the introduction of Microsoft Word which was notable for being the first what you see, what you get word processors. Meaning you can see formatting like italics on screen instead of having to type in a command later to get the printer to print the font you want.

Windows 1.0 1985

Microsoft continued to make things look nicer on the screen with the introduction of Windows 1.0 in 1985. This initial version of Windows was really just a graphical shell that ran on top of MS DOS it was still ahead of its time in some ways for example it was widely criticized for relying too much on the mouse.

Windows 3.0 1990

In 1990 Windows 3.0 was released and was a smashing success thanks to no small part through the use of real actual icons to represent programs and files and a support for a whopping 256 colors. The original version of Microsoft Office was also released this year and was similarly successful.

Windows 95 in 1995

Windows 95 included many endearing features like the start menu, the modern window desktop paradim and the task bar. This along with the Microsofts growing portfolio of consumer products like Encarta, Internet Explorer and MSN which is still around as a dial-up provider and Web portal turned Microsoft into a household name. They even partnered with  General Electric to launch MSNBC a cable news channel in 1996 to emphasis inter activity and online news to compliment its Tv offerings in early days.

The Legend Windows XP and Xbox console

Microsoft’s market dominance raised some eyebrows especially when they bundled internet explorer with windows 98 and treated the browser as an integral part of the operating system certain elements of windows wouldn’t run properly without IE. This escalated to the point where the US government nearly broke microsoft into two companies in 2000 though this was avoided through a settlement while this litigation was going on Microsoft rolled out windows M.E which was so buggy that pc world joked that ME stood for mistake edition but Redmond quickly righted itself in 2001 releasing the venerable windows XP. The first windows version for consumers that ditched MS DOS which ran underneath windows 98 using the much more stable windows NT kernel which was previously only intended for business use. Same year Microsoft dove headfirst into the game console wars releasing the original xbox. The xbox may have been a little big and looked a little tacky but it was ahead of its time in a number of ways being the first console to include an ethernet jack and a hard drive so by this point it’s clear that Microsoft was trying to diversify their business in areas other than just the traditional PC software space but unfortunately if we went into all of Microsoft’s post 2001 successes and missteps this would really be a long topic.

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