The year was 1975 when two computer enthusiasts and friends from Seatle Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft. They converted a very popular mainframe computer programing language, BASIC in order to use it for the Altair an early personal computer (PC). Now after so many years Microsoft has become a multinational company, which primarily deals in software and computer technologies, consumer electronics, and related services, that it offers to both business (B2B) and personal users (D2C).
Best known for the Microsoft Windows operating system and the Microsoft Office software, the Xbox video gaming console, Azure Cloud Service, and the Microsoft Surface line of phones, tablets, laptops, etc. The basic idea of the program was to make things easy for the common people and both the founder, Bill Gates and Paul Allen succeeded in it. Thus, in the year 2020, Microsoft ranked in 21st position in the 2020 Fortune 500 rankings. Hence, making it one of the largest American companies in the terms of revenue. Apart from this, Microsoft was also one of the largest software makers in terms of sales.
About the Founders
In 1974, Paul Allen, who was employed as a developer at Honeywell, was on a walk-in Harvard Square when he came across the cover page of the “Popular Electronics magazine”, January 1975 issue, which featured the Altair 8800, the first microcomputer. Allen was immediately intrigued, and he bought the magazine and set off to Harvard University’s Currier House, to discuss the topic with Bill Gates, his high school pal. They realized there was immense potential in developing a BASIC implementation of the system.
Gates called up the manufacturer of the Altair Micrometering and Telemetry System (MITS) and offered to demonstrate the implementation of the BASIC interpreter to them, even though possessed neither an interpretation nor an Altair system! What’s even more shocking is, with the help of Monte Davidoff, they managed to program a working interpreter in the eight weeks that led up to the demonstration! Allen then traveled to Albuquerque and successfully demonstrated the software to meet MITS.
The successful meeting prompted Allen and Gates – who dropped out of Harvard to pursue the startup – to move to Albuquerque and found Microsoft (a portmanteau for “microcomputer software”) on April 4, 1975, with the intention of selling the BASIC interpreter for the Altair 8800. The company then rose to dominate the personal computer operating system market with the release of MS-DOS, followed by Microsoft Windows, in the mid-1980s.
In 1986, the company had an immensely successful initial public offering (IPO). Subsequently, its share price rose to approximately 12,000 Microsoft employees became millionaires! Since the 1990s, the company focused on diversifying its offerings beyond just the operating system market, a move that saw them acquire a multitude of companies, the most notable being their acquisition of LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in December 2016, and their acquisition of Skype Technologies for $8.5 billion in May 2011.
In 2000, Gates retired from his position as CEO, with Steve Ballmer replacing him in the year 2000. Ballmer’s stint as CEO saw the company increasingly focused on selling hardware, specifically consumer electronics like phones, to which end they acquired Danger Inc and Nokia, a move that ultimately was not quite successful. In 2014, the position of the CEO changed again, with Satya Nadella taking charge in the year 2014. In his tenure, the company has scaled back on hardware and has instead focused on cloud computing, a move that helped the company’s shares reach their highest value since December 1999.
In 2018, Microsoft once again became the most valuable publicly traded company in the world, becoming the third American publicly-traded company to reach a record-breaking trillion-dollar market cap in April 2019. As of 2020, Microsoft has also held the rank of the third-highest global brand valuation.
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