The improbable origins of PowerPoint



Microsoft boasts of 1.2 billion copies of PowerPoint at large—one copy for every seven people on earth. In any given month, approximately 200 million of these copies are used.  Our cumulative generation of PowerPoint slides surely reaches well into the billions. PowerPoint began its lifetime as a commercial product that came onto the scene 30 years ago, in 1987. Remarkably, the founders of the Silicon Valley firm that created PowerPoint did not set out to make presentation software, let alone build a tool that would transform group communication throughout the world.


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PowerPoint has ended up being, a virtually unavoidable instrument of communication and persuasiveness in much of the world. Microsoft flaunts 1.2 billion installations of PowerPoint at large — one copy for every seven people on earth. In any given month, as much as 200 million of these clones are put to work, and although nobody’s actually counting, our collective procreation of PowerPoint slides likely racks up well into the billions.

PowerPoint is so implanted in modern-day lifestyle that the idea of it possessing a history in any way may appear to be strange.

Surprisingly, the founding fathers of the Silicon Valley company that developed PowerPoint did not set out to make presentation software, not to mention put together a resource that could revolutionise group communication all over the world.

PowerPoint was definitely not the pioneer software for creating presentations on personal computers. What’s more, several of its most recognizable features-the fundamental theme of a slide consisting of text and graphics; bulleted lists; the slideshow; the slide sorter; and even the animated transitions in between slides-did not come into existence with PowerPoint. With PowerPoint and also its forerunners, the motif of the slide was, undoubtedly, pinched straight from the world of photography.

In the very first month, Forethought, the pioneer developers, booked $1 million in sales of PowerPoint, at a net profit of $400,000, which was close to what the company had shelled out creating it. PowerPoint then ended up being Microsoft’s presentation software, first only for the Macintosh personal computer and later on also for Windows. The Forethought team became Microsoft’s Graphics Business Unit.

PowerPoint surfaced in the middle of a phase in which personal computing was adopting the workplace. The tipping point for PowerPoint came in 1990, when Microsoft released its bundling strategy and commenced showcasing Microsoft Office-which packaged Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint-as a $1,000 set. PowerPoint’s rivals, however, objected to the strategy as handing out PowerPoint for free.

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