The company is also publishing books and multimedia titles, producing its line of hybrid tablet computers, offering e-mail services, and selling electronic game systems, computer peripherals (input/output devices), and portable media players. It has sales offices throughout the world.
In addition to its primary research and development center at its corporate headquarters in Redmond, Washington, U.S., Microsoft operates research labs in Cambridge, England (1997); Beijing, China (1998); Sadashivnagar, Bangalore, India (2005); Santa Barbara, California (2005); Cambridge, Massachusetts (2008); New York, New York (2012); and Montreal, Canada (2015). (click here for more details)
The brains behind the company
Being avid computer geeks when access to computers was hard to come by, Paul Allen and Bill Gates co-founded this now giant company, Microsoft.
It might sound unlikely, but these two geeks had even skipped classes in high school to live and breathe in their school’s computer room. But eventually caught from hacking their school’s computer. However, instead of being expelled, they were offered unlimited computer time to improve the school computer’s performance.
The Birth of Microsoft
Several years later, these two teenagers made a venture together called Traf-O-Data, which used the new Intel processor to turn raw traffic data into easy-to-read, comprehensive reports. However, the business did not last long because Gates had to go to a pre-law program, and Allen pursued a computer science degree.
In January 1975, Popular Electronics magazine featured a new computer called the Altair 8800 microcomputer. It was a revolutionary product being a new, commercially successful personal computer. Allen came across the magazine’s Altair feature, so he showed it to Gates and called MITS, the Altair makers. Then they offered them their services to write a version of the new BASIC programming language for the Altair.
After eight weeks, Allen and Gates demonstrated their program to MITS, and they agreed for the distribution and marketing of the product under the name Altair BASIC. The deal became an inspiration to Gates and Allen to form their own software company. Thus, it gave birth to Microsoft on April 4, 1975, in Albuquerque, New Mexico—the home of MITS—with Gates as the first CEO.
How they came up with the name ‘Microsoft’
Gates used the name “Micro-Soft,” on July 29, 1975, which came from “microcomputer” and “software that had been suggested by Allen. In August 1977, the company opened its first international office called ASCII Microsoft, which is located in Japan. In 1979, the company moved to Bellevue, Washington, and two years later, it incorporated under the name Microsoft Inc. Gates was president of the company and chairman of the board, and Allen was executive vice president.
In the next few years, BASIC was refined, and other programming languages were developed. In 1980, the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) asked Microsoft to produce essential software, or operating system, for the IBM PC, its first personal computer. Microsoft purchased an operating system from another company, modified it, and renamed as MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System).
In 1981, MS-DOS was released with the IBM PC. Microsoft generated vast revenues because most manufacturers of PC licensed MS-DOS as their operating system. In the early 1990s, it had sold over 100 million copies of the program. It defeated competing operating systems such as CP/M, which is displaced in the early 1980s, and later IBM OS/2. With the existence of Windows, a graphical user interface whose third version, released in 1990, Microsoft had positioned itself high as it gained a considerable following.
The company also led in productivity software such as word-processing and spreadsheet programs, overtaking longtime rivals Lotus and WordPerfect in the process.
Like other successful tech entrepreneurs, Gates was once a college dropout. He left Harvard University in 1975 to devote himself to Microsoft fully. At 31, Bill Gates became a billionaire and today stands as the second richest man in the world with 107.8 billons net worth. (click here for more details)
According to Gates, if Microsoft hadn’t worked out, he probably would’ve been a researcher for artificial intelligence.