Microsoft to Microsoft disk operating system (MS-DOS)

For many people, the word “Microsoft” undoubtedly conjures up images of a behemoth computer corporation that in recent years has come under scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Justice for its allegedly unfair business practices.

For others, it is synonymous with Windows. But Microsoft is much more than the giant company that makes Windows. It is an integral part of PC history.

Today, Microsoft is one of the world’s largest computer companies (IBM has the distinction of being the largest), with a market capitalization (total value of stock) of more than $300 billion. (The market cap was almost twice that much at its peak in late 1999.) In the more than 25 years since its founding in 1975, Microsoft has gone through many ups and downs, moving from struggling software firm to pivotal IBM partner and finally, to the manufacturer of the world’s most popular OS (operating system), as well as of a number of auxiliary products and services.

BASIC beginnings.In early 1975, computer whiz Gates was a law student at Harvard when fellow technology enthusiast and friend Paul Allen showed him an ad for a microcomputer on the cover of Popular Electronics. This machine (the MITS Altair 8800) fired Gates’ imagination, and he and Allen decided that they would miss a huge opportunity if they did not try to enter this emerging industry. Gates called MITS founder, Ed Roberts, and to….

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