Birth of Microsoft

by Guruprasad

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January 1975.
Coverpage of the magazine “Popular Electronics”.
If we are able to run windows OS on our computers, it is because of this coverpage. Lets see how this coverpage triggered the minicomputer revolution.

In the previous pic, we saw how Bill & Paul had started their first company which did not work upto their expectations, and Bill had joined Harvard.

Bill & Paul were still in contact and dicussing about project ideas and were always optimistic about the computer industry taking off. One morning, Paul rushed into Bill’s house with this magazine which had the headline: “World’s First Microcomputer Kit to Rival Commercial Models” and in an instant, the wizards knew the computer industry is taking off and this is their big chance to get into the plane. They knew that just the hardware is not enough for the industry to succeed. Someone else has to make software for it and the wizards knew that they can become the someone else.

Bill immediately called up the company making this Altair hardware and told them that he has developed a software called BASIC for Altair. Whereas in reality, he had not even touched an Altair, let alone writing software for it. However, the Altair company, being unaware of that fact, agreed and asked them to show a demo. Bill said he needs to do a bit of polishing and can give the demo after 8 weeks which was agreed by the company.

Bill & Paul used an Altair simulator and spent days and nights writing the BASIC software for it. By the 8th week it was ready and Paul went for the demo. During the demo, it was the first time he was touching an Altair and since all they had done was on the simulator, it could never be assured that it will work on the real machine. When he fed the sourcecode and executed, his hearbeat had almost stopped and every second felt like an year. After few seconds, the lights blinked and the program was executed successfully!! It was a great relief and a moment to cherish.

The Altair company was happy with the demo and accepted it. Bill & Paul signed the deal and licensed them the software. Altair hired Paul, after which Bill dropped out of Harvard and joined Paul. Since the Altair company’s office was at Albuquerque, the wizards decided to relocate and start a partnership project with this BASIC software as their product to be licenced to clients. This partnership project was later registered as a company with the name “Micro-Soft” and this is how the legendary company was born in 1975.

This was the first business card:

Next time we shall see how Microsoft started to grow, their first team, dress code etc :)