Big companies that got their start in a garage; this is the topic of a series I’ve shared with you for several months now. When you think about it, a garage is the perfect birthplace for a business. There’s plenty of space and privacy to let your innovative ideas and creativity run wild. This month, I’m taking a look at my ninth addition to the series: Microsoft! Sit back and learn how this company grew from its humble beginnings in a garage to a monster in the computer software industry.
The Early Days of Microsoft
Bill Gates and Paul Allen had been friends since they were students at Lakeside School in Seattle. In the 1970s, while working as a programmer for a company called Honeywell, Paul Allen stumbled upon an article in Popular Electronics. It was all about a microcomputer called Altair, made by the Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry System Company, aka MITS. Paul traveled to Harvard where he excitedly shared the article with Bill. They were immediately inspired to come up with a software implementation for the microcomputer’s system. The implementation, called BASIC, was accepted and it was distributed as Altair BASIC. This led to the birth of Microsoft on April 4th, 1975. Allen left his job and Gates gave up college to setup headquarters in a small garage on California Street in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Microsoft was officially in the business of creating software.
Gates and Allen spent the next few years working on more software for the Altair 8800. By the end of 1978, sales numbers for Microsoft surpassed one million dollars. In 1979, the headquarters of Microsoft moved from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Bellevue, Washington.
A Growing Record of Success
In 1985, the first version of Microsoft’s Windows came into being. This software offered a variety of graphics and gave users the option of running different programs at the same time. In addition, the software allowed users to share data between programs. Microsoft’s Windows software helped to make personal computers a must-have purchase for the average household. Furthermore, the software was easy to use and helpful to people who weren’t necessarily computer experts.
Since 1985, Microsoft has created nine main versions of Windows. In 1987, Bill Gates, at 31-years old, became the world’s youngest billionaire. And he was just getting started!
Windows 95 Makes Its Debut
With the arrival of the late 1980s, Microsoft was the world’s largest company producing software for personal computers. In the mid ’90s, personal computers were a familiar sight in homes and offices throughout the country. When Windows 95 was introduced it was a big commercial success. As more people were discovering the Internet in the 1990s, Microsoft developed a web browser called Internet Explorer. I bet you’ve used it a time or two!
Microsoft Continues to Innovate
Today, Microsoft is a one trillion dollar company. The company has experienced consistent success throughout the years including the launch of the search engine BING in 2009 and the acquisition of Skype in 2011. In addition, Microsoft launched Xbox One in 2013 and purchased LinkedIn in 2016. This company definitely has a knack for seeing the future.
Fun Facts about Microsoft
- The original name of the company was Micro-Soft (a combination of the words microprocessor and software)
- Microsoft was founded in Albuquerque because that’s where MITS was located
- Microsoft has an underwater data center off the coast of Scotland
So, there you have it. If you’re thinking about starting a business, remember the garage where Microsoft came into existence and where it is today. Get inspired! Thanks for reading.-Alan