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Wednesday, June 20, 2007 1:07 PM PT Posted by Tom Spring

PowerPoint Turns 20

For 20 years meeting participants have had a love/hate relationship with PowerPoint presentation software. Since Robert Gaskins in 1987 invented PowerPoint 1.0 for Macs it has been credited for helping the graphically challenged jazz-up boring sales figures and earning reports for company presentations with pictures, pie charts, and fancy fonts. The software has also been bemoaned by meeting participants that have had to sit through those very same sales and earning report presentations which felt like they would never end as one PowerPoint slide went to the next.

There is a great story in today's Wall Street Journal which pays homage to 20 years of Microsoft's presentation software. Journal columnist Lee Gomes reports that PowerPoint for Mac came out in late 1987 and was gobbled up by Microsoft later that year for $14 million. PC users would have to wait until 1990 when Microsoft would release a Windows version of PowerPoint.

ad-small.jpg I did some digging in the PC World magazine library. Here is one of the first ads for PowerPoint that showed up in PC World's November 1990 issue when the program first became available for Windows 3.0. The ad is a cool three-page foldout ad that includes a M.C. Escher print to hammer Microsoft's point: "With Windows the future takes shape. With our Windows applications, it soars."

On Gaskins' Web site he states: "PowerPoint (was) the first product to attract strategic venture capital from Apple and later the first significant acquisition made by Microsoft."

Today a copy of PowerPoint will run you around $209, in 1990 it went for $495 and competed with Computer Associates' CA Cricket Presents. In PC World's first review of PowerPoint in 1990 then Senior Editor Eric Knorr concluded "PowerPoint should ensure that more PC users discover the joys of desktop presentations." Twenty years later, as Gomes points out, not many are celebrating the program's birthday.


At least one presenter/writer says 'don't write off PowerPoint just yet'. See: Is PowerPoint Approaching its Golden Age?


June 21, 2007
12:31 AM PT
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