Microsoft Windows 1.0 was released 25 years ago this week
The original version of Microsoft Windows (v1.0) was released around 25 years ago this week. I say about 25 years ago because It’s really tough to pin down the actual release date due to differing information depending on where you look. If you look at official Microsoft history, they mention in one paragraph that Windows 1.0 was released in 1983, but then in the next paragraph they say Windows 1.0 was released in 1985. Other places alternately list 1983 or 1985. It’s possible that the first few releases of 1.0 (ie, 1.0, 1.01, 1.02) were not official and only demo releases. Most places I check have the release date for Windows 1.0 to be Nov 20, 1985. So I’m going with that.
Here’s the box for that first release of Windows.
Windows 1.0 required you to use 10 installation disks. And they were floppies!!
(Via Digibarn Computer Museum)
The original Windows used a radical new GUI interface to handle typical computer tasks like starting programs and file management. This freed the user from having to type commands at a DOS prompt. Delivered applications for this release included a File Manager, calendar, clock, notepad and calculator.
Here’s Steve Ballmer in an ad for the first iteration of Windows.
Many people give Microsoft a hard time because they think Gates stole the GUI technology from Apple, which, in fact, is NOT true. The original GUI technology was first developed in the late 60s by Douglas Englebart who was an engineer working for Xerox. Englebart demo’d his GUI for hundreds of professional engineers in 1968 leaving behind pictures and video of the entire demo. He called his setup the oN-Line System (it was networked with several other computers) and it included a monitor, keyboard and mouse. At this point in time, Englebart’s entire system was decades ahead of the then current computer engineering. Xerox became nervous that their photocopy business would become obsolete so they developed the research facility Xerox-PARC in the early ’70s as a place to develop this, and other, new technology. Engineers at Xerox-PARC were given wide latitude to create whatever they wanted and they further refined the GUI system, added a more sophisticated mouse, overlapping on-screen “windows” as well as the early technologies TCP/IP and laser printing. There is a great book detailing the research and technologies that came out of the Xerox-PARC facilities in the ’70s, it’s called Dealers of Lightning: Xerox-PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age.
Anyway, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates both utilized the technology developed at Xerox-PARC to create the Apple OS as well as the original versions of Windows. So if anyone was stolen from, it was Englebart and Xerox-PARC.
I’m a big fan of Bill Gates and Microsoft as I’ve used their technologies since the late 80s. Back when I was in junior high, my dad had a work laptop with Windows 3.0 on it. Once you started Windows, the laptop didn’t have enough memory to do anything else. Since then I’ve used laptops and PCs with various versions of Microsoft products on it. I even talk about Microsoft on this blog from time to time (Windows 95 release, Windows Vista, Bill Gates retires).