Microsoft is a multinational computer technology corporation. The history of Microsoft began on April 4, 1975, when it was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in Albuquerque. Its current best-selling products are the Microsoft Windows operating system, Microsoft Office suite of productivity software, Xbox a line of entertainment of games, music and video and Bing, a line of search engines.
In 1980, Microsoft formed a partnership with IBM that allowed them to bundle Microsoft’s operating system with IBM computers, paying Microsoft a royalty for every sale. In 1985, IBM requested that Microsoft write a new operating system for their computers called OS/2; Microsoft wrote the operating system, but also continued to sell their own alternative, which proved to be in direct competition with OS/2. Microsoft Windows eventually overshadowed OS/2 in terms of sales. When Microsoft launched several versions of Microsoft Windows in the 1990s, they had captured over 90% market share of the world’s personal computers.
As of June 30, 2014, Microsoft has a global annual revenue of $86.83 Billion USD and 128,076 employees worldwide. It develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of software products for computing devices.
The idea that would spawn Microsoft germinated when Paul Allen showed Bill Gates the January 1, 1975 issue of Popular Electronics that demonstrated the Altair 8800. Allen and Gates saw potential to develop an implementation of the programming language BASIC interpreter for the system.Bill Gates called the creators of the new microcomputer, Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS), offering to demonstrate the implementation in order to win a contract with the company. Allen and Gates had neither an interpreter nor an Altair system, yet in the eight weeks before the demo they developed an interpreter. When Allen flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico to meet with MITS, the interpreter worked and MITS agreed to distribute Altair BASIC. Allen and Gates left Boston, where Allen worked for Honeywell and Gates was enrolled in Harvard, moved to Albuquerque (where MITS was located), and co-founded Microsoft there. Revenues of the company totaled $16,005 by the end of 1976.
Allen came up with the original name of Micro-Soft, a portmanteau of microcomputer and software. Hyphenated in its early incarnations, on November 26, 1976 the company was registered under that name with the Secretary of State of New Mexico. The company’s first international office was founded on November 1, 1978, in Japan, entitled “ASCII Microsoft” (now called “Microsoft Japan”), and on November 29, 1979, the term, “Microsoft” was first used by Bill Gates. On January 1, 1979, the company moved from Albuquerque to a new home in Bellevue, Washington, since it was hard to recruit top programmers to Albuquerque. Shortly before the move, eleven of the then-thirteen employees posed for the staff photo on the right.
Steve Ballmer joined the company on June 11, 1980, and would later succeed Bill Gates as CEO, from January 2000 until February 2014. The company restructured on June 25, 1981, to become an incorporated business in its home state of Washington (with a further change of its name to “Microsoft Corporation, Inc.”). As part of the restructuring, Bill Gates became president of the company and chairman of the board, and Paul Allen became Executive Vice President.
Microsoft’s early products were different variants of Microsoft BASIC which was the dominant programming language in late 1970s and early 1980s home computers such as Apple II (Applesoft BASIC) and Commodore 64 (Commodore BASIC), and were also provided with early versions of the IBM PC as the IBM Cassette BASIC.
The first hardware product was the Z-80 SoftCard which enabled the Apple II to run the CP/M operating system, at the time an industry-standard operating system for running business software and many compilers and interpreters for several high-level languages on microcomputers. The SoftCard was first demonstrated publicly at the West Coast Computer Faire in March 1980. It was an immediate success; 5,000 cards, a large number given the microcomputer market at the time, were purchased in the initial three months at $349 each and it was Microsoft’s number one revenue source in 1980.