Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is known throughout the world as one of the original tech giants. Founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975, Microsoft has grown into one of the world's largest companies, with a market capitalization of more than $836.62 billion as of Dec. 11, 2018. What started as a venture to develop early computer operating systems has since become a market leader in the personal computing space through the Windows operating system, smartphones, tablets and gaming. While most people are familiar with the success story of Bill Gates and Microsoft, here are seven facts that many company followers may not know.
1. Microsoft was Originally Called "Micro-soft"
Microsoft is literally a combination of the words "microcomputer" and "software." In the company's early days, however, Gates included a hyphen in the Microsoft name. In an early 1975 letter from Gates to Allen, the company was still referred to as "Micro-soft." It wasn't until the company name was officially registered in 1976 that the hyphen was removed and Microsoft was born.
2. Bill Gates Wanted to Call Windows "Interface Manager"
As Windows 1.0 was being developed, Gates wanted to call his operating system "Interface Manager." In fact, early test releases of the operating system still referred to the software by that name. Shortly before Windows was publicly released in late 1985, however, Gates had a change of heart and decided to switch the name to Microsoft Windows.
3. Microsoft has a Huge Collection of Artwork
In an effort to create a positive work environment, The Microsoft Art Collection was launched in 1987 to collect works of art from local, upcoming, and renowned artists for display in Microsoft's offices. Microsoft's collection currently includes 5,000 contemporary paintings, sculptures, photographs, and multimedia pieces. The collection aims to focus on emerging and mid-career artists, with a goal to support talented young artists early in their careers.
4. Microsoft Owns LinkedIn, Skype
In one of the boldest investment moves by Microsoft to date, the company acquired professional networking website LinkedIn for $26.4 billion on Dec. 8, 2016. Since the deal went through, Microsoft has begun integrating the company into their ecosystem, combining LinkedIn data with Office 365. Microsoft's second-largest acquisition occurred on May 10, 2011, when the company acquired Luxembourg-based Skype for $8.65 billion. Microsoft is the third company to purchase Skype, following in the footsteps of eBay and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. Although LinkedIn and Skype underperformed in the short term following their acquisitions, both social networks are currently on the rise.
5. Microsoft's Employee Headcount Doubles the Population of its Headquarters
Microsoft moved its corporate campus to Redmond, Washington, in 1986 following stints in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Bellevue, Washington. As of June 30, 2018, Microsoft's worldwide employee count was roughly 131,300. That number is more than double the entire population of Redmond, which is estimated to be roughly 64,000 according to a 2017 census.
6. Microsoft's First Acquisition was "Forethought"
Microsoft's very first acquisition was its 1987 purchase of Forethought. The company, founded in 1983, was best known at the time for a presentation program it had developed called "Presenter." That software program is now commonly known as Microsoft PowerPoint.
7. The Microsoft "Sound" was Created by Brian Eno
Anybody who has used a PC running on Microsoft Windows software will recognize the six-second jingle that plays as the system is booting up. That snippet is no simple back-office creation, either. The Windows start-up sound was written by legendary music producer and songwriter Brian Eno. Eno, whose music career spans more than four decades, is best known for his work with acts such as Coldplay, U2, and David Bowie. Eno was approached by Microsoft designers in 1994 to compose a short bit that was inspiring, futuristic, and optimistic. Eno claims he developed 84 different pieces before settling on the winner.