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Microsoft's History

During their high school years in Seattle, William H. Gates and Paul Allen discovered they had a mutual hobby of programming on PDP-10 computers (made by Digital Equipment Corporation). Together in 1975 they founded Microsoft. In an issue of Popular Electronics magazine, there was a cover story about the first personal computer, the Altair 8800. Feeling inspired, Gates and Allen worked to convert BASIC, a mainframe programming language, for use on the Altair. This form of BASIC was licensed to Altair's manufacturer, Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems. This enabled them to form Microsoft, then based in Albuquerque, N. M. They soon began developing BASIC for other computer companies such as, Apple Computers, Commodore and the Tandy Corp. Microsoft soon coined the terms "microcomputer" and "software."

The Foundation is Laid

After moving the company to Bellevue, Wash. in 1980, International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) hired Microsoft to write the operating system or essential software for the IBM-PC, the corporation's first personal computer. After buying QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System) for $50,000 from Tim Paterson, a Seattle programmer, Microsoft modified it and renamed it MS-DOS or Microsoft Disk Operating System. It was released along with the IBM PC in 1981. MS-DOS had been licensed to over 200 manufacturers of personal computers by 1984. It had become a standard operating system for Bill Gates
personal computers. This led to Microsoft's enormous growth and large revenues in the 1980s. Over 100 million copies had been sold by the early 1990s, defeating rivals CP/M and OS/2.

Microsoft began developing software applications as the use of MS-DOS increased. Multiplan, a spreadsheet program, was released in 1982 and in 1983 Microsoft Word was released. In 1984, Macintosh computers, developed by Apple Computer, had very few companies developing application software for them and Microsoft was one of them. It's programs, such as Word, Excel, and Works was extremely successful for Macintosh computers. However, sales of the Multiplan for MS-DOS waned because of the widespread popularity of the Lotus Development Corp.'s Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet program.

Windows is Introduced

Windows, a new kind of operating system that used the principles of MS-DOS and a graphical user interface, was released by Microsoft in 1985. In 1986, Microsoft moved to it's current headquarters in Redmond, Wash. It also became a publicly owned corporation. In 1987, Windows 2.0 was released with some improvements from the previous version. But the third version, Windows 3.0 and the versions following, gained mass appeal after its release in 1993 and came preinstalled on most computers. It also released Windows NT, a system for business environments. Windows NT was a landmark program that brought incompatible PC's together; it also offered more reliability and network security. Initially sales were disappointing, but soon it Windows 98
was outselling its competitor, Novell's Netware. One million copies per month were being sold and almost 90 percent of the world's PC was run by a Microsoft operating system. In 1990, Microsoft recorded $1 billion in annual sales, making it the first personal-computer software company to accomplish that. Microsoft steadily earned 25 cents on every sales dollar. By the end of June 30, 1996 Microsoft reported a net income of over $2.1 billion. Also in 1993, Microsoft won a copyright infringement lawsuit brought on by Apple Computers. Apple charged that Microsoft copied the design of the Macintosh's graphical interface. An appellate court later upheld the case.

Within 7 weeks of its release in 1995, Windows 95 sold over 7 million copies worldwide. Windows 95 featured multitasking and access to Internet Explorer. Windows 98, featuring Integrated Internet capabilities was released in June of 1998. Windows 2000 was also released in 1999.

Time for Expansion

The mid-1990s marked a period of expansion for Microsoft. When Netscape had successfully captured the budding market for Web browsers, Microsoft began to take notice and decided to challenge Netscape's monopoly of the web. It made investments in the media, entertainment and communications industries. The Microsoft Network was launched in 1995 and in a joint venture with the National Broadcasting Co., MSNBC was formed in 1996. Microsoft purchased WebTV Networks in 1997 for $427 million. The company makes devices that connect the Internet to television. Also in 1997, Microsoft put $ 1 billion in a U.S. cable-television operator, Comcast Corp. AT&T Corp. started using Microsoft's Windows CE to provide customers with integrated cable television, telephone and high-speed Internet services after being paid $5 billion in 1999 by Microsoft.

A New Leader

Steve Ballmer

In July, Bill Gates named Steve Ballmer, executive vice president at the time, Microsoft's new president to control of day-to-day operations. Ballmer was named CEO January 2000 in place of Gates, who is now focusing on development of new products.

Information in this section is compiled from Britanica.com Inc. and Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia.


E-mail me at emshaw95@hotmail.com

This site is 2001 By Erin