Microsoft Turns 40

On the company’s 40th anniversary, former CEO Bill Gates sent out a special email commemorating the momentous occasion.

Forty years ago Saturday, the world’s largest maker of software was nothing more than two college dropouts named Bill Gates and Paul Allen and a dream about changing the world.

Today that same company has over 125,000 employees, an 8-million square foot campus, and the ability to boast that it runs on over 90 percent of home and office computers. It also the third most profitable company in the world – behind only oil giant Exxon Mobile and Apple, a longtime friendly rival.

Microsoft celebrates its 40th anniversary – one of the first technological companies to have the honor of doing so – and Gates, founding member and CEO for 25 years until 2000, has advice not only for employees of the company, but for all software developers: “Make the power of technology accessible to everyone, connect people to each other and make personal computing available everywhere.”

Gates sent out an email to the company offering up his words of wisdom and hope for the future. Since pulling away from the company, Gates has been focused more on his volunteer and charity ventures, though he does serve as an advisor to the current CEO Satya Nadella. He is one of the wealthiest men in the world, and have put over $28 billion dollars into his own charity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He plans to give away 95% of his wealth by the time of his death.

The full email was released through Twitter by an employee, Amit Roy Choudhary:

Tomorrow is a special day: Microsoft’s 40th anniversary.

Early on, Paul Allen and I set the goal of a computer on every desk and in every home. It was a bold idea and a lot of people thought we were out of our minds to imagine it was possible. It is amazing to think about how far computing has come since then, and we can all be proud of the role Microsoft played in that revolution.

Today though, I am thinking much more about Microsoft’s future than its past. I believe computing will evolve faster in the next 10 years than it ever has before. We already live in a multi-platform world, and computing will become even more pervasive. We are nearing the point where computers and robots will be able to see, move, and interact naturally, unlocking many new applications and empowering people even more.

Under Satya’s leadership, Microsoft is better positioned than ever to lead these advances. We have the resources to drive and solve tough problems. We are engaged in every facet of modern computing and have the deepest commitment to research in the industry. In my role as technical advisor to Satya, I get to join product reviews and am impressed by the vision and talent I see. The result is evident in products like Cortana, Skype Translator, and HoloLens — and those are just a few of the many innovations that are on the way.

In the coming years, Microsoft has the opportunity to reach even more people and organizations around the world. Technology is still out of reach for many people, because it is complex or expensive, or they simply do not have access. So I hope you will think about what you can do to make the power of technology accessible to everyone, to connect people to each other, and make personal computing available everywhere even as the very notion of what a PC delivers makes its way into all devices.

We have accomplished a lot together during our first 40 years and empowered countless businesses and people to realize their full potential. But what matters most now is what we do next. Thank you for helping make Microsoft a fantastic company now and for decades to come.


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