There is probably no company better known around the world than Microsoft. Whether one chooses to see Microsoft as an innovative, world changing, company founded by technical innovator Bill Gates, or as an oppressive mega corporation that has ruthlessly prevented other technical geniuses from realizing their dreams, there is no denying that Microsoft has earned a significant place in history. Opinions aside, the history of the Microsoft Corporation and those involved in its founding is full of interesting facts and details. Here are six not so well know bits of information about the history of Microsoft.
Founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen were High School Buddies
Both of them had a complete fascination with computers. Their high school had one large computer in a room that basically maintained data and information. Bill and Paul skipped class quite a bit and sneaked into the computer room to “play.” At one point, they hacked into the system and were caught. Rather than expel them, the administration made a deal that they could have unlimited computer time if they would improve the computer’s operation. They took the deal gladly.
Bill left home to attend Harvard (pre-law), but Paul showed up in Boston to try and convince Bill to drop out. Bill was ambivalent about the choice, but a job opportunity to write the BASIC programming language for MITS, makers of Altair 8800 microcomputers made the decision far easier. Once that was successfully completed, the two friends decided to form their own company. Thus, in 1975 Micro-Soft was born.
Microsoft and IBM were once Collaborative Partners
Microsoft and IBM teamed up to create the DOS operating system. However, when the powers at be at IBM discovered that Bill Gates was planning to release a graphical operating system (AKA Windows), that partnership came to an ugly end. What was the reason for the fray? IBM viewed Microsoft’s Windows product as a direct competition to its own graphically based operating system, OS2. For a period of time, both companies sold the DOS operating systems, Microsoft as MS DOS and IBM as PC DOS.
Microsoft Wasn’t the First Venture of Co-Founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen
Traf-O-Data was the first joint venture between these two technical visionaries. What was the humble purpose of this startup? Like its name suggests, Traf-O-Data recorded and analyzed traffic data. The function of this product was to retrieve data about traffic patterns, and then produce reports that could be used by civil engineers.
Microsoft Became an International Corporation only two Years After it was Founded
In 1975, Bill Gates coined the name Micro-Soft (hyphen removed later). In 1976, Microsoft was formally incorporated. In 1977, just two years after its birth, Paul and Bill opened an office in Japan. This office was referred to as ASCII Microsoft (http://inventors.about.com/od/CorporateProfiles/p/Microsoft-History.htm). ASCII Microsoft was divested at the time of Microsoft’s IPO.
Microsoft Innovated an Interview Style that is now Emulated by other Tech Giants
In their quest to recruit and hire bright, hardworking, and extremely innovative candidates, the management at Microsoft decided that they would avoid traditional interview questions in favor of unique and challenging questions. The purpose of these questions was to identify whether or not job candidates could think on their feet, and come up with answers that reflected a creative thought process and well-honed problem solving skills. It has been said that Google now emulates this interview style.
Microsoft Passed on an Opportunity to Purchase Youtube
Not only did this software giant refuse an offer to purchase Youtube, they turned down a rock bottom price of around a half of a million dollars. When Google decided to make the purchase, they paid more than a billion dollars for the company. Many people regard this business decision as one of the worst decisions in the history of Microsoft.
It is these interesting facts about the history of Microsoft that make this such a compelling company to study. It’s not surprising that the mention of the word Microsoft is so evocative. It is a success story that rivals any other company on the planet.
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