Timeline: Microsoft's Rise to Power

 

1975 – Paul Allen and Bill Gates, friends who had co-written a programming language for the Altair hobby-kit personal computer, license it to the makers of the Altair. This programming language is the first Microsoft product.
Jan. 1, 1979 – Microsoft moves from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to the Seattle area.
1980 – Microsoft chosen by IBM to create operating system for its first PC. Microsoft buys the software for $50,000 from another company and calls it MS-DOS. Steve Ballmer joins Microsoft.
Aug. 12, 1981 – IBM introduces the PC, running on MS-DOS.
1983 – Microsoft introduces its Word word-processing program, announces plans to create Windows operating system. Allen resigns as vice president, but remains on the board of directors.
November 1985 – Microsoft ships its first version of Windows.
March 13, 1986 – Microsoft’s stock goes public.
Aug. 1, 1989 – Microsoft introduces earliest version of the Office business software suite.

Would you invest with these people?

The Microsoft founders in 1978. Photo / AP

January 1, 1994 – Bill Gates marries Melinda French on the Hawaiian island of Lanai.
July 1994 – US and European antitrust investigations settled; Microsoft agrees to change contracts with PC makers. Settlement is rejected in federal court, then reinstated in 1995.
Aug. 24, 1995 – Microsoft launches Windows 95.
Nov. 27, 1995 – Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 2.0, challenging Netscape’s Navigator Web browser.
Dec. 7, 1995 – Gates details shift in Microsoft strategy to focus on the internet.
Aug. 6, 1997 – Microsoft and Apple Computer agree to share technology and set aside long-standing feud.
Oct. 20, 1997 – Justice Department sues Microsoft, says it violated the 1994 consent decree by requiring computer makers to use its internet browser as a condition of using Windows.
May 18, 1998 – Justice Department and 20 states sue Microsoft, alleging it illegally thwarted competition. One state later drops out of the suit.
July 21, 1998 – Ballmer becomes president of Microsoft.
Oct. 19, 1998 – The antitrust trial begins, continues into summer of 1999.
Nov. 5, 1999 – US District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson releases his findings of fact, which label Microsoft a monopoly.
Jan. 13, 2000 – Gates steps aside as CEO, giving the post to Ballmer, remains chairman and becomes chief software architect.
Feb. 17, 2000 – Microsoft launches Windows 2000.

June 7, 2000 – Jackson orders the breakup of Microsoft into two companies.
Sept. 26, 2000 – Supreme Court refuses to hear Microsoft’s appeal of Jackson’s decision, sending the case to a federal appeals court.
Sept. 6, 2001 – Justice Department says it will no longer seek a breakup of Microsoft.
November 2001 – Microsoft, Justice Department reach tentative deal to settle antitrust case.
Oct. 25, 2001 – Worldwide launch of Windows XP.
August 2002 – Microsoft unveils business and product changes to comply with Justice Department settlement.
June 23, 2003 – Microsoft announces Windows Mobile for handheld computers and phones.
March 24, 2004 – European Commission fines Microsoft a record $613 million for antitrust violations, though the sanction is later suspended while Microsoft appeals.
April 2, 2004 – Sun settles antitrust claims with Microsoft for $1.95 billion.
June 30, 2004 – US appeals court unanimously approves settlement with Justice Department.

Dec. 22, 2004 – An EU court rejects Microsoft’s appeal of the March order.
May 12, 2005 – Microsoft shows off new Xbox 360; console hits shelves in November.
July 1, 2005 – Microsoft agrees to pay IBM $775 million in cash and $75 million in software to settle antitrust claims.
Oct. 11, 2005 – RealNetworks settles antitrust claims with Microsoft for $761 million.
March 23, 2006 – Microsoft announces a shake-up in its Windows unit, two days after saying it won’t have its next consumer version of Windows ready for the holiday season as planned.
June 15, 2006 – Bill Gates announces plans to withdraw from day-to-day duties at Microsoft in July 2008 so he can focus on his charitable foundation.
Nov. 14, 2006 – Microsoft introduces Zune music player.
Jan. 30, 2007 – Microsoft releases long-delayed Windows Vista and Office 2007.
Jan. 31, 2008 – Microsoft makes unsolicited offer to buy Yahoo for $44.6 billion. Eventually walks away after Yahoo won’t agree to even higher offer, $47.5 billion.
June 27, 2008 – Gates steps down from full-time role in company, remains board chairman.

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