Microsoft’s legacy started in April, 1975. Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded the company in Albuquerque, New Mexico after leaving their lives in Boston behind to pursue a grand idea.
The name of the company was originally Micro-Soft, combining the words “microcomputer” and “software”. The duo registered the company to that name in November, 1976. A short two years later, Microsoft opened its very first international office, which was located in Japan.
They found that it was hard to recruit the best programmers while they were located in New Mexico, and in early 1979 Microsoft made the move to Bellevue, Washington. In 1981 the company restructured to become an incorporated business in Washington, and officially changed its name to Microsoft Corporation, Inc. The restructuring of the company was when Bill Gates officially became President and Chairman of the Board for the company, while Paul Allen took on the role of Executive Vice President.
Microsoft’s very first piece of hardware, the Z-80 SoftCard, was unveiled in 1980 and became an immediate success. The card enabled the Apple II computer to run the industry-standard business software and operating system of the time. They saw 5000 sales of the product in its first three months on the market. The cards sold at $349 each, which produced an impressive profit their first year in production.
Their first operating system also came in 1980, and was a variation of Unix that they had acquired distribution rights to from AT&T. They titled the operating system Xenix. This operating system was also the earliest version of Microsoft Word was revealed, then titled Multi-Tool Word. The word processor was groundbreaking for its potential “What You See Is What You Get” style of creating documents.
DOS was the first operating system that really propelled the company forward to success. IBM gave a contract to Microsoft to produce an operating system for their new IBM Personal Computer. Microsoft did not have an operating of its own to meet the needs of IBM, and purchased a clone of the CP/M system that was popular at the time, and IBM redubbed it IBM PC DOS. It was offered at a much lower price than CP/M, and became the standard of the time because of that.
Later, in 1983, Microsoft partnered with a handful of other companies to produce its own version of DOS. The company aggressively pushed the system, familiar to people around the world as MS-DOS, on personal computer manufacturing companies and surged to the top of the market.
Microsoft continued building on this success, and through the ‘90s developed the Windows operating system which was quickly adopted by the general market. This also paved the way to their acceptance as the standard operating system for the corporate world. In the latter part of the ‘90s, the company focused heavily on the internet and development of systems for use with it.
In the early 2000’s the company faced legal struggles as the United States deemed it a monopoly and forced the company to split. Windows XP was released in 2001, and is widely considered Microsoft’s greatest operating system to date. The company has continued to focus heavily on the home user throughout the 2000s and today they dominate the home environment in the form of software, personal computers and gaming devices, and much more.
From humble beginnings to worldwide success, Microsoft’s legacy is a truly remarkable story.