09 April 2019

A Brief History Of Microsoft

The global technology corporation Microsoft is one of the world’s most valuable listed companies, alongside Apple and Amazon. Let’s take a brief look at their history and how they came to be a household name.

“We had dreams about the impact it could have. We talked about a computer on every desk and in every home.”

– Bill Gates


Bill Gates and Paul Allen crossed paths during their youth and formed their friendship based on a mutual love for all things computer related. After hacking their school’s computers and, faced with being expelled they were asked to help improve computer performance in exchange for unlimited use of the machines.

Bill Gates and Paul Allen in black and white photo as teenagers sat smiling with computers.


Microsoft was born when the duo established the corporation in Albuquerque, New Mexico on April 4th, 1975 after being inspired to develop and sell BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800 (a computer which had been featured in Popular Electronics magazine).

The company’s name Microsoft was coined and registered in 1976 by combining the words microcomputer and software.

In 1978, Microsoft’s first international office opened in Japan and, with 13 employees in the U.S, the company moved its headquarters to Bellevue, Washington in 1979 to recruit better programmers.

Microsoft logo

80’s: BIG DOGS.

Microsoft hits the jackpot (quite literally) in 1980 when a partnership with IBM was secured. IBM tasked Microsoft with developing OS/2n, a piece of hardware to operate its first personal computer, the IBM PC. 

Steve Ballmer joins Microsoft in 1980 as the first Business Manager to be hired by Gates. He later becomes President of the company from 1998-2001.

In 1981, Microsoft releases its own hugely successful operating system, MS-DOS, which generates vast revenues.

Allen resigns after developing Hodgkin’s disease in 1983.

Iconic Windows 1.0 was released on November 20th, 1985 and a first version of OS/2n is put on sale to equipment manufacturers in 1987.

Microsoft’s Headquarters are moved to Redmond, Washington in 1986 and its stocks go live at 9.35am on March 13th making several millionaires instantly.


The evolution of Windows continues with Microsoft developing its 3.1 version, selling 10 million copies just two years after being released, which saw it become the largest software provider.

Microsoft office is released in 1990, which consists of a collection of programmes (Word, Excel and PowerPoint etc) to be used in home offices.

1995 marked the year that Internet Explorer was released with eleven versions of the internet browser to follow.

Microsoft Office logo


2000 marks the year that Windows ME (Millennium Edition) was released, though at large it’s regarded as the worst version of Windows.

Microsoft entered the video gaming industry in 2001 when it released Xbox, the company’s first gaming unit, and Xbox Live launched just a year later placing Microsoft second in the gaming market.

Windows XP and Office XP were also released in 2001 which merged features for both home and business.

Ballmer resigns from Microsoft in 2014 with Satya Nadella succeeding him.

Skype, the online calling and messaging platform was acquired by Microsoft in 2011 for $8.5 billion to compete with Apple’s Facetime.

In 2006, Gates (worth 96.5 billion today) announced that he would be transitioning from a full-time to part-time role within Microsoft but would remain as the company Chairman.

The company continues to drive the development of its products to compete with other big technology names such as Apple. The Windows phone is released in 2010 and the popular Surface touchscreen personal computers later in 2012.

An original black Xbox console with controller.


With a net worth of $760 Billion and over 130,000 employees, Microsoft continues to be a pioneer in computer technology.

Microsoft timeline infographic from 1975 (founding of the corporation) to present day.

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