Posts Key Events in Microsoft History

Key Events in Microsoft History

While searching for some of the information for the BASIC Timeline, I came across a word document that outlined many of the key events over the life of Microsoft Corporation.  I'm not sure of the original author of this document (if you know who you are, please let me know so I can give you credit). 

1/1/1975  The MITS Altair 8800 appears on the cover of Popular Electronics, inspiring Paul Allen and Bill Gates to develop a BASIC language for the Altair.

2/1/1975  Bill Gates and Paul Allen sell BASIC, the first computer language program for a personal computer, to Microsoft's first customer, MITS of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

3/1/1975  Paul Allen joins MITS as director of software.

4/7/1975  “Altair BASIC - Up and Running,“ declares the headline of the first edition of MITS Computer Notes.

7/1/1975  BASIC officially ships as version 2.0 in both 4K and 8K editions.

2/3/1976  Bill Gates is one of the first programmers to raise the issue of software piracy. In "An Open Letter to Hobbyists," first published in MITS Computer Notes, Gates accuses hobbyists of stealing software and thus preventing "...good software from being written." He prophetically concludes with the line, "...Nothing would please me more than being able to hire ten programmers and deluge the hobby market with good software."

3/27/1976  Bill Gates gives the opening address at the First Annual World Altair Computer Convention, held in Albuquerque. 

11/1/1976  Paul Allen resigns from MITS to join Microsoft full time.

11/26/1976  The trade name "Microsoft" is registered with the Office of the Secretary of the State of New Mexico.

2/3/1977  Paul Allen and Bill Gates execute an official partnership agreement.

7/1/1977  FORTRAN-80, Microsoft's second language product, is available. 

11/1/1978  Microsoft establishes its first international sales office in Japan, ASCII Microsoft.

12/31/1978  Microsoft's year-end sales exceed $1 million.

1/1/1979  Microsoft moves its offices to Bellevue, Washington, from Albuquerque.

6/11/1980  Steve Ballmer joins Microsoft.

6/25/1981  Microsoft reorganizes into a privately held corporation with Bill Gates as President and chairman of the board and Paul Allen as executive vice president. Microsoft becomes Microsoft, Inc., an incorporated business in the state of Washington.

8/12/1981  IBM introduces its Personal Computer, which uses Microsoft's 16-bit operating system, Microsoft® MS-DOS® version 1.0, plus Microsoft BASIC, Microsoft COBOL, Microsoft Pascal, and other Microsoft products.

3/24/1982  Microsoft U.K. Ltd. (United Kingdom) is incorporated.

6/28/1982  Microsoft announces a new corporate logo, new packaging, and a comprehensive set of retail dealer support materials.

2/18/1983  Paul Allen resigns as Microsoft's executive vice president, but remains on the Board of Directors.

5/2/1983  Microsoft introduces the Microsoft Mouse.

9/29/1983  Microsoft introduces Word for MS-DOS 1.00.

11/10/1983  Microsoft unveils Microsoft Windows, an extension of the MS-DOS operating system that provides a graphical operating environment. The first retail version of Windows would not ship until November 1985.

1/24/1984  Microsoft ships BASIC and Multiplan simultaneously with the introduction of the Macintosh, becoming a leader in developing software for Apple computers. 

7/11/1984  Microsoft Press introduces its first two titles: Cary Lu's The Apple Macintosh Book and Peter Norton's Exploring the IBM PCjr Home Computer. 

8/12/1985  Microsoft celebrates its 10th anniversary with FY85 sales figures of $140 million.

9/3/1985  Microsoft selects the Republic of Ireland as the site of its first production facility outside of the U.S. to produce software products to be sold in the European market.

11/20/1985  Microsoft ships the retail version of Microsoft Windows.

2/26/1986  Microsoft moves to a new Corporate Campus in Redmond, Washington.

3/13/1986  Microsoft stock goes public at $21 per share, rising to $28 per share by the end of the first trading day and raising $61 million.

4/2/1987  Microsoft and IBM announce OS/2. This is the first product to be announced as a result of the Joint Development Agreement between Microsoft and IBM in August 1985.

9/8/1987  Microsoft ships its first CD-ROM application, Microsoft Bookshelf, a collection of 10 of the most popular and useful reference works on a single CD-ROM disk.

1/13/1988  Microsoft and Ashton-Tate announce Microsoft SQL Server, a relational database server software product for Local Area Networks (LANs) based on a relational database management system licensed from Sybase.

8/1/1989  Microsoft announces Office, the first general business software for Macintosh systems available on CD-ROM.

11/13/1989  Microsoft and IBM broaden the scope of their development agreement by agreeing to jointly develop a consistent, full range of systems software offerings for the 1990s. These software offerings will include enhancements to MS-DOS, Microsoft OS/2, and Microsoft LAN products and are compatible with the Intel 386 and 486 microprocessors.

12/27/1989  Microsoft announces that Jon Shirley will retire as president and chief operating officer on June 30, 1990. Shirley, who has been president since August of 1983, will continue to play a role in the management of the company as a member of the Board of Directors and as a consultant for strategic projects.

4/2/1990  Microsoft appoints Michael R. Hallman as president and chief operating officer, to succeed upon Jon Shirley's retirement.

7/25/1990  Kicking off its 15th-anniversary celebration, Microsoft becomes the first personal computer software company to exceed $1 billion in sales in a single year, with revenues of $1.18 billion. 

11/12/1990  Bill Gates unveils his vision of the future of computing in his keynote address, "Information at Your Fingertips," at Fall/COMDEX '90.

1/1/1991  Microsoft Corp. becomes one of the first software companies to create its own computer-science research organization, Microsoft Research (later MSR).

5/20/1991  Microsoft announces Microsoft Visual BASIC for Windows at Windows World '91 in Atlanta. 

11/14/1991  Microsoft announces the Multimedia Edition of Works for Windows 2.0, Microsoft?s first business application to incorporate multimedia.

3/1/1992  Microsoft kicks off its first-ever television advertising campaign. The TV ads are designed to build on the success of Windows and Windows-based applications.

3/1/1992  A three-person Office of the President is created, with three centers of strategic focus: Worldwide Product Group, headed by Mike Maples; Worldwide Sales and Support Group, headed by Steve Ballmer; and Worldwide Operations Group, headed by Frank Gaudette.

4/6/1992  Microsoft ships Microsoft Windows 3.1 with more than 1,000 enhancements. The new version creates unprecedented user demand, with more than 1 million advance orders placed worldwide.

4/27/1992  The Microsoft Board of Directors approves a 3-for-2 stock split. 

6/23/1992  Bill Gates accepts the National Medal of Technology for Technological Achievement from President Bush. 

1/1/1993  Microsoft announces the 10th anniversary of Microsoft Word, which first shipped for MS-DOS in 1983, on the Macintosh platform in 1984, and on the Windows platform in 1989. Based on data released by Dataquest, Inc. there are more than 10 million Word users worldwide.

3/22/1993  Microsoft Encarta, the first multimedia encyclopedia designed for a computer, is available.

4/14/1993  Microsoft reports that the number of licensed users of Microsoft Windows now totals more than 25 million, making it the most popular graphical operating system in the world. 

5/24/1993  Microsoft launches Windows NT at Windows World in Atlanta. 

12/6/1993  Microsoft is named the "1993 Most Innovative Company Operating in the U.S." by Fortune magazine as part of its Fifth Annual Study of America's Best Cities for Business. 

4/18/1994  Microsoft Windows for Workgroups 3.11 has become the world's best-selling retail operating system, edging Windows 3.1 into the No. 2 spot. 

6/28/1994  Microsoft acquires SoftImage, the leading developer of high-performance 2-D and 3-D computer animation and visualization software.

9/8/1994  Microsoft announces that Windows 95 is the official name for the next version of Windows, codenamed “Chicago.”

11/8/1994  Bob Herbold joins Microsoft as the new executive vice president and the chief operating officer.

11/14/1994  Microsoft debuts its new international advertising campaign, “Where Do You Want To Go Today,” at actor Robert DeNiro's trendy SoHo restaurant in New York. 

3/22/1995  Microsoft and DreamWorks SKG announce that they have signed a joint-venture agreement to form a new software company designed to produce interactive and multimedia entertainment properties. 

8/24/1995  Microsoft Windows 95 is available worldwide.

11/20/1995  MSN™, The Microsoft Network online service, enrolls more than 525,000 members in its first three months of service, making MSN one of the largest Internet service providers. 

11/20/1995  Bill Gates authors his first book; The Road Ahead looks at how new technologies will guide the way we work, play, and live in the future. 

1/16/1996  Microsoft acquires Vermeer Technologies and its flagship software application, FrontPage.

2/6/1996  Microsoft names Mattel USA President and Chief Operating Officer Jill E. Barad to its Board of Directors. Barad is the first woman named to the Microsoft Board of Directors since Portia Isaacson served in 1986 and 1987. 

6/5/1996  MSNBC, the 24-hour news, talk, and information network from NBC News and Microsoft, debuts.

6/24/1996  Slate™, an interactive magazine of politics, culture, and public policy edited by Michael Kinsley, goes live on the Internet. 

11/7/1996  Microsoft Flight Simulator for Windows 95 releases, marking the first time in its 14-year history that the product is available on the Windows platform.

11/12/1996  Microsoft's Board of Directors approves a 2-for-1 stock split. 

12/3/1996  The Executive Committee replaces the Office of the President as the most senior management team at the company. 

4/6/1997  Microsoft acquires WebTV Networks for approximately $425 million in stock and cash. 

6/23/1997  Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda French Gates, announce the formation of the Gates Library Foundation.

10/21/1997  The Justice Department files a motion in Federal District Court, alleging that Microsoft violated a 1994 consent decree dealing with certain aspects of licensing the Windows operating system to computer manufacturers. Specifically, the Justice Department asks the court to stop Microsoft from tying the use of its Windows 95 operating system to the use of its Internet browser, a tool to navigate the Internet.

11/25/1997  Pollsters Hart and Teeter find that Microsoft is the most admired company in one of the most admired industries in America. When the public is asked to volunteer, without being prompted, the names of one or two companies they respect and admire, Microsoft is named by 25 percent. IBM and General Motors are next, at 16 percent, followed by AT&T and Wal-Mart at 15 percent.

1/26/1998  Microsoft Corporation's Board of Directors approves a 2-for-1 split of its common shares.  This is the seventh time the common stock has split since the company went public on March 13, 1986. 

6/25/1998  Windows 98 is available in more than 40 countries worldwide and from more than 12,000 retail outlets in North America. 

7/21/1998  Bill Gates appoints Steve Ballmer president of Microsoft.

10/16/1998  The antitrust trial against Microsoft begins in Washington D.C. 

11/16/1998  Microsoft SQL Server version 7.0 is launched at COMDEX and receives PC Week's "Best of Show" and "Best Productivity Software" awards.

1/8/1999  Microsoft launches Encarta Africana, the first comprehensive encyclopedia of black history and culture.

2/24/1999  Microsoft's first online store, located at, debuts.

3/18/1999  Bill Gates introduces Internet Explorer 5.0 at a launch event on the Microsoft campus in Redmond.  By the following week, more than 1 million downloads of the new version have taken place.

3/24/1999  Bill Gates releases his latest book, Business @ the Speed of Thought, published by Warner Books. At the heart of the new book is a single idea: For businesses to think and move quickly enough to succeed in the fast-paced digital economy, they must enable the flow of digital information. 

6/7/1999  Steve Ballmer officially launches Microsoft Office 2000, a key element of the company's vision of "Knowledge Workers Without Limits."

9/13/1999  Microsoft announces Windows Distributed interNet Architecture (Windows DNA) 2000, a comprehensive, integrated platform for building and operating state-of-the-art distributed Web applications as well as the next wave of Internet-based Web services.

1/7/2000  Microsoft acquires Visio Corporation, the largest acquisition in Microsoft's history.

1/13/2000  Bill Gates creates a new role for himself -- chairman and chief software architect -- so that he can dedicate all of his time to helping drive the next generation Windows Internet platform and services. Steve Ballmer becomes president and CEO, and will take over management of the company.

4/3/2000 Microsoft announces the retail availability of Microsoft Project 2000 and the companion, Web-based Microsoft Project Central, a major upgrade to the world's best-selling project-management software, with more than 5 million users. 

6/22/2000  Microsoft unveils the Microsoft® .NET platform, the vision and road map for its next generation of software and services. Microsoft .NET (pronounced "dot-net") will provide easier, more personalized, and more productive Internet experiences by harnessing constellations of smart devices and Web sites with advanced software through Internet protocols and formats.

9/14/2000  Microsoft announces the availability of Microsoft® Windows® Millennium Edition (Windows Me).

9/20/2000  Warner Books publishes Inside Out, Microsoft - In Our Own Words, a commemorative 25th-anniversary book.

2/13/2001  Microsoft Windows XP operating system makes its public debut at the Experience Music Project in Seattle. 

5/31/2001   Microsoft Office XP launches, promising to unlock hidden knowledge and unleash the next wave of productivity gains.

10/25/2001  Microsoft Windows XP is released worldwide.

11/15/2001  Microsoft Xbox launches, offering the only system on the market designed from the ground up to deliver a complete online gaming experience.

1/15/2002  Bill Gates issues a companywide memo emphasizing that Microsoft?s must lead the industry to a new level of Trustworthiness in computing. 

2/13/2002  Microsoft Visual Studio.NET launches during the VSLive! Conference in San Francisco. 

3/18/2002  Microsoft and those states not agreeing to the settlement reached by the U.S. Department of Justice, began a trial on remedies in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

4/4/2002  Microsoft President Rick Belluzzo, appointed to his post slightly more than a year ago, is stepping down. 

7/1/2002  Today at Microsoft® Tech-Ed 2002 Europe, Microsoft Corp. launched Microsoft Visual J#™ .NET, a development tool for Java-language developers building applications and services on the Microsoft .NET Framework. The launch of Visual J#™ .NET signals the completion and availability of all the Microsoft programming languages within Visual Studio® .NET, including Visual C++® .NET, Visual C#™ .NET and Visual Basic® .NET. 

8/8/2002  Microsoft Reaches Agreement With the Federal Trade Commission On Passport.

10/23/2002  Microsoft Corp. today will unveil MSN® 8 with a celebration in Central Park, the first stop on a national tour intended to show consumers why a recent study* revealed that three out of four people prefer the new MSN 8 software to AOL 8.

11/1/2002  Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly (U.S. District Court - Washington, D.C.) issues her final judgment conditionally approving the settlement Microsoft reached with the federal government and the nine states.

4/16/2003  Windows Server System replaces .Net Enterprise Servers as the first official portfolio name that encompasses more than a dozen Microsoft server software products, including Windows Server 2003. The new Windows Server System brand change informs customers that Windows Server 2003 is at the heart of the company's server strategy and that Microsoft's server products are being designed around a common architecture, to ensure their interoperability.

4/24/2003  Windows Server 2003 launches. It is the largest software development project in Microsoft history to date.

9/18/2003  Microsoft announces that its board of directors has decided to increase its size from eight to 10 members and is proposing two new members for election by shareholders at their annual meeting in November.

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