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50 Years of Engineering - 1975: Microsoft

18/02/2020
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To celebrate Fircroft’s 50th Anniversary, every week EngineeringPro will be highlighting an engineering accomplishment made each year from 1970-2020. This week we’re looking at the Microsoft Corporation.

Few companies can claim to have influenced software development as much as Microsoft. The pioneering software provider was first established in 1975, and it went on to become one of the most powerful and profitable companies in history.

Founded by Bill Gates and Paul G. Allen, its early days focused on the BASIC general-purpose programming language and on developing operating systems. The name Microsoft was chosen as a contraction of ‘micro-computer software’.

In 1980 Microsoft was invited to create the operating system for IBM’s flagship personal computer: the IBM PC. This contract proved pivotal to the company’s success. Thereafter, most manufacturers of personal computers licensed MS-DOS as their operating system, generating vast revenues for Microsoft. This trend continued with new operating systems which were central to the personal computing revolution, such as Windows 98 and Windows XP.

 

A central tenant of Microsoft’s success was its ability to bundle its own propriety software with its operating systems, such as the Internet Explorer browser. By capitalising on its position in this way, it arguably stifled competition. The company was also able to secure its foothold in the productivity software market, and its word-processing and spreadsheet programs became the industry standard. 

Despite the proliferation of alternative applications since then, Microsoft is still a market leader. Microsoft’s Windows operating systems and Office software packages remain largely ubiquitous to this day. However, there have undoubtedly been missteps along the way. The Internet arguably wasn’t embraced as quickly as it should have been, and rivals such as Google, Apple and Samsung continue to play the leading roles in the smartphone revolution.

One of the company’s key successes was its diversification into the lucrative video games market. It released the Xbox games console in 2001 and successfully challenged the dominance of Sony’s PlayStation consoles. In recent years, the company has diversified further through the acquisitions of Skype in 2011, of Nokia in 2014 and of LinkedIn in 2017.

Since its establishment in 1975, Microsoft went on to secure a preeminent position as the leading provider of computer operating systems and productivity software. Today, its most recent operating system, Windows 10, is estimated to be installed on over 800,000,000 computers worldwide.

 

The engineering world of 1975

Other major engineering milestones from 1975 include:

·         The Altair 8800 microcomputer was first released.

·         Volkswagen introduces the Golf, its new front-wheel-drive car.

·         NASA launches the Viking 1 planetary probe toward Mars.

 

Read last week's look back at 1974 and the development of the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

 

Fircroft - 50 years of connecting people

50 years ago, former engineer John Johnson established Fircroft as a recruitment company for technical and engineering professionals working across the Oil & Gas industry. Today Fircroft recruit skilled professionals for the biggest names in global engineering projects. Register with Fircroft today to explore the latest opportunities. 

 

Tags: Engineering, ICT
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Impkeys, 07 April 2020
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