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The History of Microsoft - 1981

4 minutes, 24 seconds


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For Microsoft, 1981 means an entrance into the Operating Systems Business, we organize into a privately help organization and revenue jumps to over 17 million bucks. 

Previous Episodes:
The History of Microsoft - 1975
The History of Microsoft - 1976
The History of Microsoft - 1977
The History of Microsoft - 1978
The History of Microsoft - 1979
The History of Microsoft - 1980

April 9, 1981

First semi-annual company meeting is held in the newly built Bellevue Athletic Club.

June 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.

August 12, 1981

IBM introduces its Personal Computer (PC), MS-DOS version 1.0, plus BASIC, COBOL, Pascal, and other Microsoft products. This is Microsoft’s entry into the operating systems business. Included in the IBM-compatible list of software is a game newly adapted to the PC, Microsoft Adventure.

October 1, 1981
The Microsoft Building (Northup Building) at 10700 Northup Way, (P.O. Box 97200) Bellevue, Washington, 98004, is leased.

December 8, 1981

Microsoft announces that is has signed a letter of intent to enter a second-source agreement with The Santa Cruz Operation, Inc. for the XENIX operating system. The agreement will provide additional services to purchasers of XENIX, especially pre- and post-sale support, maintenance, and documentation.

1981 Revenue/Headcount

The 1981 year-end sales total $17,331,000. The 1980 Calendar Year employee headcount totals 129 people.

Notable employees hired:

Tandy Trower, Jeff Raikes, Chris Peters and 100th employee Ellen Aycock. Chris Larson is hired as an FTE after several summer-long internships.

Other 1981:

·     Osborne Computer introduces the Osborne 1, the first portable microcomputer.

·     Ronald Reagan takes the oath as 40th President of the United States on January 20. On March 30, he is wounded by a gunman, along with two law-enforcement officers and his Press Secretary James Brady. 

·     US-Iran agreement frees 52 hostages held in Teheran since 1979.

·     Pope John Paul II is wounded by a gunman on May 14.

·     President Reagan nominates Sandra Day O'Connor as the first woman on the Supreme Court.

·     The US Centers for Disease Control publish a report which officially announces the start of the AIDS epidemic.

·     Oakland defeats Philadelphia to win the Super Bowl (27-10). The LA Dodgers defeat the NY Yankees (4-2) to win the World Series.

·     Bestselling novels in 1981 include: Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie, and Rabbit is Rich by John Updike. John Updike wins both a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for this novel in 1982.

·     John Lennon and Yoko Ono win a Grammy Award for Best Album for Double Fantasy. Best Song is Bette Davis Eyes, by songwriters Jackie DeShannon and Donna Weiss. Best New Artist is Sheena Easton.

·     The top-grossing films: Raiders of the Lost Ark ($115 million), Superman II ($65 million), On Golden Pond ($61 million), Arthur ($42 million), and Stripes ($40 million).

·     The Academy votes the Best Picture of the year -- Chariots of Fire, and the public votes: the worst movie -- depending who you ask, of course -- Tarzan, the Ape Man, starring Bo Derek and Richard Harris.

·     Henry Fonda receives the Best Actor Oscar for On Golden Pond; Best Actress goes to Katharine Hepburn also for On Golden Pond.

·     Egyptian President Anwar Sadat is assassinated at the age of 63.


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  • Sven GrootSven Groot Don't worry... I'm a doctor.
    Great year, 1981, because it's the year I was born. Smiley
  • I’m not sure if I can say “portable” for that “Osborne 1”  I think it’s weighted more than two desktops


    It’s nice to hear that optimistic time estimates also by Bill Gates, it’s the repeatable glitch for the most of the software estimators

  • Mike SampsonSampy And I come back to you now - at the turn of the tide
    Me too Smiley
  • bureXbureX Always a step ahead in stupidity.
    "Burgermaster" - as creative as it gets Wink
    Software developers were never very good in thinking up codenames and logos (and that includes me, especially when I look at what kinds of words did I use for variable names in some past quick projects)...
    Exibit A:

    Another great ep, as always Smiley
  • Tommy CarlierTommyCarlier Widen your gaze
    Same here Wink
  • I just LOVE this show! Keep up the great work Tina!
  • As an FYI: in the aerial photo, the Northup Building is in the upper right corner (not the one that's hilighted).

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