15 November 2018
(Almost) 43 years old and still feeling great. 1975 is the year of birth of Microsoft Corporation, in Albuquerque, New Mexico (United States).
The company has been officially founded in April 1975 with the partnership between Bill Gates and Paul Allen (who passed away on October 15, 2018), school mates and computer enthusiasts. It's a watershed in the tech world. Microsoft begins to seriously look at our life, until it becomes an essential element for a large slice of our daily actions.
The years of light approaches soon become the roaring years of technology and the concept of tech world as we perceive it now begins to take shape. In these years the history of Microsoft begins, in these years the history of technology is made.
Gli anni degli approcci timidi diventano ben presto gli anni ruggenti della tecnologia e inizia a prendere forma il concetto di mondo tech come lo percepiamo adesso. In questi anni inizia la storia di Microsoft, in questi anni si fa la storia della tecnologia.
Gates and Allen's growth in the IT is linked to the development of a programming language called Basic, adaptable to Altair 8800, the first microcomputer developed by the company MITS (Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems, where Gates worked). The language is perfectly efficient and functioning and pushes Gates and Allen to start their own business. This propulsion gave them the idea of creating Micro-Soft (MICROcomputer and SOFTware). Gates and Allen immediately focused on this new project: the first left his job at MITS, the second left his studies at Harvard University. The two focused on the Basic language to make it adaptable to other distributors (Apple, Citybank, Commodore, General Clectric Ncr and Radio Shack). The new Basic language extends and empowers the computers functionality by the standards of time, ensuring the ability to respond to custom management needs. We are in the 70s and what is happening begins to take the shape of a revolution. The days in the office were marked by the typewriter. To copy a document you needed a mimeograph or carbon paper. In just a few months, all of this began to belong to the past.
The project expanded more and more. Microsoft FORTRAN has been developed, followed in 1978 by Microsoft Cobol, developed for the CP/M operating system which, in less than two years, becomes the reference operating system for micro-personal computers. Microsoft is already a leader in this sector and begins to sell its product to major companies. In 1980, the first international headquarter was opened in Japan. In 1981, the company's headquarter was moved to Redmond (in Washington, still the current location) and made an agreement with Apple to develop products for the Mac.
In 1982 the first European office opened in Belgium. The company accepts the proposed collaboration for IBM and creates an operating system for their computers: the Qs-Dos that Microsoft develops and grants to IBM under license and then evolves into Ms-Dos (the ancestor of Windows). The turning point came in 1983, when Gates and Allen developed the Microsoft Windows operating system.
For the first time in the history of technology, users can interact with the PC, not only by typing letters and numbers, but also by clicking on the elements on the screen, managing even more unrelated programs simultaneously. The revolution is proposed to “consumers” at affordable prices. From the very first moment Microsoft approaches the needs, of any kind, of users and this has always been one of the points of strength of the company. Also in 1983, Microsoft introduced the mouse. The new bundle was launched only 2 years later, in a fully working version, Windows 1.01, on November 20, 1985. It's the revolution.
In a press release of that time, Bill Gates stated: “Windows provides an unprecedent power to modern users and a basis for hardware and software enhancements in the coming years. It is a unique software designed for the skilled PC user, who gives great value to the productivity that a personal computer performs”.
The future was just beginning.
A new era begins with Windows 1. The code name of the first operating system is Interface Manager, which is only later renamed Windows, a name that better summarizes the concept of “windows” at the base of the system. The MS_DOS console commands appear old already and leave the way to actions directed by the mouse, which allow the user to move on the desktop and use all the elements in the windows. The drop-down menus arrive, together with scrollbars, icons and dialog boxes, simplifying the learning phase and making the use of the programs more accessible. Working with multiple programs simultaneously and switching between them becomes possible. Windows 1 provides a number of pre-installed programs that will become an integral part of the everyday user activities. Microsoft makes computers and programs familiar with MS_DOS file management software, with the ancestor of Word (Microsoft Writer), with Paint, Notepad, Calculator and Calendar, Clock, and a calendar for managing everyday tasks. The first game for break times from work activities also appears: Othello.
It's a crescendo. Microsoft, in a few years, enters as a leader in the technological Olympus of companies that have changed the lives of their users. In 1990, after only 15 years from its birth, the company turns out to be the first PC software company that exceeds the goal of one billion dollars in annual sales. In 1995 arrives Windows 95: in 4 days more than a million copies are sold only in the United States. The Windows operating system is used by 9 out of 10 users. The rest is recent history, with an increasingly diversified and accessible offer and a willingness to meet the needs of any user.
In recent years, Microsoft has been entering into new segments of the market and embraced more and more users. In 2011 it took over Skype and also implemented the videogames sector with Xbox (with the acquisition of Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment - two development studios formed by veterans of the development of role-playing games - made official on November 12, 2018), up to the latest innovations: from Windows 10 (which, among other things, with the “Microsoft Your Phone” application - available from this month - will allow users to connect even more closely a smartphone and a PC Windows 10) to Surface devices with smart headphones, passing through Office 2019 and arriving to the investments in the automotive field.
A list of products, innovative solutions, projects and bundles that today appears borderless. Microsoft products find countless applications in every moment of our life. It's an extraordinary achievement when we think about 1975 and the time when the company took its first steps. A result made possible only through the passion and the commitment of extraordinary people. A commitment that has never denied its contribution to solidarity projects and humanitarian missions. Microsoft has always invested in projects to support poor and needy people, such as 'AI for Humanitarian Action', a recent initiative that provides a strong investment (about 40 million euros) in the next five years for solidarity operations. In particular, the AI for Humanitarian Action places Artificial Intelligence at the service of humanitarian organizations. The new technology, integrated with the cloud, will be able to assist all organizations that work in the front line to defend humanitarian rights and to safeguard lives. The program has 4 macro-objectives:
“Technology has the power to unite us. It inspires us. Technology has taken us to places we only dreamed of. It gives hope to those who have no hope and has given voice to those who have no voice” (Microsoft 2014 Spot).
Microsoft historical struggle has been accompanied and marked by the work of its partners, another pillar of the company’s expansion policy, which allowed further diversification and expansion of MS products. Microsoft’s stated goal is to further expand the ecosystem of partners by strengthening existing ones and helping them in the digital transformation, without precluding the entry of new teams. Always looking at the future.
"Where do you want to go today?" (Slogan Microsoft, 1994).