41 years of Microsoft & memories

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Microsoft is 41 and thriving.

Fresh off an impressive Build conference, this April marks the anniversary of Microsoft’s founding 41 years ago. While the past four decades have been a series of ups and downs, 2016 is proving to be an exciting year for the industry giant. In February, Microsoft acquired Xamarin, and now the tech world is buzzing about intriguing announcements at Build for Windows 10, Cortana, Xbox and more. While there’s a lot to look forward to (hello, HoloLens), we can’t help but look back at the innovations that got us here today.

We asked the Pluralsight author community to tell us: What does 41 years of Microsoft mean to you?

Their answers reveal how technology at Microsoft shaped careers in personal and profound ways. Want to add your story? Share your memories of Microsoft with @Pluralsight on Twitter using #41yearsofMSFT, and don’t forget to celebrate!

Joseph Anthony — I started my IT/ Dev career coding and teaching Microsoft ActiveX /COM/ DCOM technologies using C/C++ way back in 1997-98. Microsoft's unrelenting commitment to continuous innovation has enabled them to reinvent their development platforms, tools, and the developer experience as well as their offering in the enterprise and personal computing space continuously. I am excited about the possibilities enabled by the next generation innovations that Microsoft is pioneering in the areas of Internet of Things (Azure IOT), Augmented Reality (AR), Deep Learning, Computer Vision and Language Understanding. Kudos to Microsoft and its awesome team on its 41st birthday and I wish them all the very best in future as they continue to work their magic!

Glenn Berry — Microsoft has made it possible for me to have a personally rewarding and lucrative career using Visual Studio and SQL Server over the course of many years. All the great support resources and the technical ecosystem that they make available, such as MSDN, the Microsoft MVP program, and great technical conferences made it so much easier for me to stay current with their technology and products during the course of my career.

Robert Cain — Microsoft started my love of technology when they licensed their BASIC to Radio Shack for the TRS-80. My father had written a simple game for it, and I became more fascinated with how the game worked than actually playing it, rewriting it several times as well as creating new programs. It launched a love of technology in general and Microsoft technology in particular that persists to this day.

Miguel Castro — Considering I remember DOS 1.0, 41 years of Microsoft means I'm getting old. Being a first-hand witness to what Microsoft has done over the years and how it's technology stack has progressed, makes it continuously exciting to speculate as to what they have up their sleeve next. That, and how much fun it's been to use their products, is what keeps me in this business.

Warner Chaves — It means being 11 and my Dad coming home with my very first issue of PC Gamer magazine and our shiny new Windows 95 PC. 21 years later I still work and play on Windows every day!

Jared DeMott — I'm grateful that Microsoft took the initiative to create the SDL framework, EMET, and more. I have worked with those initiatives, and teach on them as well. The Microsoft push toward more secure software has moved the needle for the entire industry. Well done, and looking forward to even safer systems!

Giovanni Dicanio — Dear Microsoft, I still remember when I was a student and bought Visual C++ 5 with your student licenses: imagine how happy you made me when I was awarded MVP for Visual C++ several years later and had the opportunity to spend quality time in the Redmond campus during the MVP Global Summit! Keep your good work innovating and empowering devs: Happy 0x29th birthday! With gratitude, Giovanni.

Kathleen Dollard — Microsoft enabled the ability of people trained in other fields to write software – even someone like me with a background in the crystallography of proteins. Then Microsoft rolled through letting us write better software, web software, cloud software, big data, native device apps… The thing I’d most like to celebrate today is Microsoft’s ongoing role in opening software development to everyone and constantly, although not always successfully, trying to make it easier.

Dino Esposito — I have two strong memories regarding MSFT. One was the very first software related t-shirt I’ve ever seen: a young guy (oh well more or less as young as I was at the time) wearing a Windows 95 t-shirt and walking on 5th Ave in NYC. For the young (and closed-minded J) person I was at the time that looked weird but exciting. Second, was when my Wrox editor run a survey with authors asking wishes for the future from MSFT. I said “I dream of a day in which I can write code regardless of the language relying on an object-oriented API around the OS”. When back from a secret meeting in Redmond he told me “you’re going to be happy in the coming years” That was the beginning of .NET

Ken Getz — I’ve been using Microsoft development tools since 1986, starting with Macro Assembler. From Visual Basic 1, Microsoft Access, and other early 90’s tools through the latest Visual Studio, it’s been a long ride (thirty years)! I wouldn’t have had any sort of career without Matt Honeycutt — 41 years of Microsoft...wow! The technological advancements of the last few decades are astounding, and I don't think it's a big stretch to say Microsoft played a big role in that!

Roland Guijt — For me, the fact that Microsoft is growing to be more and more open is the greatest development I've seen in all the 41 years. More open source, more open to suggestions from the community and open enough to embrace non-Microsoft platforms.

Mark Heath — For me, the announcement of .NET was a huge game changer - I got the beta of .NET 1.0 posted to me on four CD-ROMs and stayed up late into the night trying it out! What's amazing is that 15 years on, I'm still excited by the innovation going on in the Microsoft developer space.Microsoft’s tools.

Keith Harvey — In my 30 plus years as a developer, architect, and designer, Microsoft has been a constant source of opportunities to grow my career. Even now, at their 41st birthday, the future has never been brighter and a whole new world is still opening up to me. Happy birthday, Microsoft!

Stephen Haunts — I have been a Microsoft based developer for most of my Career. The biggest innovation was the introduction of .NET as this completely changed the focus of my career. I am most excited about the future of .NET on multiple platform and the shift over to Open Source. I love this new and open direction.

Thomas Henson — Wow 41 years! Sounds like a long time, but when I think about it Microsoft has been around my whole life. All of us have been impacted in so way because of Microsoft’s innovations over the past 41 years.

Thomas Huber — As a developer that has always beenfascinated by user interfaces, the announcement of XAML and WPF changed my career. Seeing the power that XAML has today with WPF and Universal Windows Platform apps is amazing.

Amber Israelsen — When I first started programming, I wrote all my code in Notepad. I remember how ecstatic I was when I learned about Visual Studio and the other great developer tools from Microsoft. Thank you for 41 years of making developers happy and productive!

Jonathan Kehaiyas — Microsoft products have been the basis for my entire career in IT. I started out administering NT4 IIS servers for a startup ISP hosting company and learned ASP and SQL programming to assist customers with problems, and then moved on into .NET as SQL development as a fulltime job before shifting entirely to SQL Server as a database administrator, where I’ve remained for the last 11 years.

Vladimir Khorikov — I've been into Microsoft technologies pretty much since the beginning of my career. It's been (and still is) a great journey with a lot of new innovations to learn and try. I'm looking forward to the Open Source initiatives from Microsoft, it would be especially fascinating to finally run my production .NET code on Linux.

Peter Kyrannis — Being born in the 80’s, I’ve grown up with Microsoft and seen other software companies come and go. Microsoft was always there like a family member; even when I wanted to move to another country, knowing Microsoft technologies helped my career flourish and opened up the possibility of working anywhere with ease – there was no ‘language’ barrier. Microsoft is there anywhere you go.

Julie Lerman — How can Microsoft be 41 years “old” already? Microsoft technology and commitment to enabling technologists has been the engine behind my career and my successes for the past 30 years. And to imagine, we are still only just getting started!

Jesse Liberty — I've watched Microsoft's development platform go from an okay C compiler to the world class IDE it is today. Along the way it has become the dominant player in the desktop OS wars, and now in the cloud. With its open source initiatives and new creative management, I expect Microsoft to be a significant player for developers and consumers for a long time to come.

Dallas Lones — I never worked for Microsoft yet I was raised inside of their offices in Redmond WA and absolutely loved it. From riding scooters around the buildings to seeing technology like the first beta surface that was the size of a coffee table, Microsoft was nothing but a great experience. The coolest technological advancement that I personally witnessed was the advancement of the surface, I got to see this thing go from a massive tabletop computer to a device roughly the size of a kindle. Now I'm obsessed with the Hololens and can't wait to see where Microsoft decides to go with holographic technology, keep up the good work Microsoft, and happy 41st.

Kunal D Mehta — Microsoft is one of those companies which has been present right from the beginning of the computing era. And when you look back at what the company was in 1975 and what it is today - it essentially sums up how the entire computing industry has evolved. It started with MS-DOS and today we're at HoloLens. What an incredible journey! I can't wait to see what's in store in the years to come!

Matt Milner — I’ve witnessed about half of Microsoft’s 41 years first hand doing desktop, the web, then cloud and mobile development. I’m excited to see where the “new” Microsoft will go. They’ve always been innovators as well as improving on other’s ideas, and their embrace of open source, and leadership in cloud development and data processing should make for some exciting years to come.

Brian Noyes — Microsoft turning 41 to me means a period in history where an entirely new economic and business segment was established, and Microsoft has been the most consistent leader of that industry for the entire time. The biggest inflection point during that time for me was the release of .NET. It released just after I had made the transition from active duty military to full time software consultant and has created an amazingly productive ecosystem for companies and developers to thrive in for the last 15 years and will continue to do so for a long time to come.

Tomas Petricek — When you think about 41 year old companies, "innovation" is not usually the first thing that comes to mind. This is probably what got me interested, first, in Microsoft developer technologies and, later, in Microsoft Research. F# is a great example of this - there are not many places where new languages can be created! My birthday wish is for Microsoft to compete the transformation into a more open company that collaborates with active communities like the one around F#!

John Purcell — My very first programs were written with Microsoft QBasic, which shipped with Windows 95. I got into programming only because I discovered QBasic and started wondering what I could do with it, so without Windows I probably would never have become a programmer.

Kimberly Tripp Randal — It was 1990 and I was into FoxBase / DataEase when I heard that Microsoft was releasing a new database on OS/2 called Ashton-Tate/Microsoft SQL Server. My boss (at a small consulting company in Chicago) said it was going to be the next big thing for the PC. Who knew that 26 years later I'd still be working with it and it's only getting better and better with each release. I’ve built an entire business around this one amazing product and I can’t thank Microsoft enough for its innovation around data.

Paul Randal — Microsoft literally changed my life. They brought me from the U.K. to the U.S. in 1999 to work on the internals of SQL Server, which I did for 9 nine years, and that led to me meeting my wife and fellow Pluralsight author, Kimberly Tripp. I'm looking forward to seeing SQL Server continue to push the boundaries of data workload performance and scalability with SQL Server 2016 and beyond!

Matthew Renze — Microsoft has been a part of my life since I started programming in QBASIC on my first PC running Windows 3.1. Over the years, I've essentially made my entire living based on Microsoft products and technologies. Most important though, I'm looking forward to a future of creating the next generation of computing with Microsoft technologies like HoloLens, Azure, and Cortana Analytics Suite.

Greg Shields — Forty one years of Microsoft means that Microsoft was born when I was conceived.

Erin Stellato — I’ve been using Microsoft software for almost 25 years. From Windows 3.1 to the upcoming SQL Server 2016 release, it’s been the backbone of my technological life. It has shaped my career, and I cannot wait to see what’s next.

Elton Stoneman — I was a Junior Programmer trapped in IBM mainframes when Microsoft released .NET in 2002, and I lucked my way onto a C# project. I never looked back and I'm happy to have built my career as a "Microsoft Guy". Over the years Microsoft have built enterprise-grade stability, but with Azure they innovate like a startup, so the future's looking good.

Devin Thorpe — Microsoft has become an integral part of my life. I started programming in high school before I'd ever heard of Microsoft--before almost anyone had. Among the first college graduates to be trained on personal computers for use in finance--all based on Microsoft's DOS operating system, my entire career has been spent using the company's products. As I've shifted my career to focus on social good, I find Bill Gates and his Foundation on the front lines in the fight against disease, poverty and social injustice.

Dan Wahlin — I can’t even imagine where my career would be today without Microsoft. So many great job and friendship opportunities were created for me as a result of their products, guidance and samples. I started with VB3 and moved to Classic ASP, ASP.NET Web Forms and ASP.NET MVC and have thoroughly enjoyed the journey. One memory that stands out is when I first started working with Classic ASP and VB6 (back in the late 90s). I remember the excitement of creating dynamic web pages and how empowered I felt at the time (it was so much easier than Perl/CGI). I’m really looking forward to the upcoming ASP.NET Core release and the ability to run it in my Docker containers on Linux or Windows Server. Thanks to everyone involved with the various product releases at Microsoft over the years!

Want to add your story? Share your memories of Microsoft with @Pluralsight on Twitter using #41yearsofMSFT, and don’t forget to celebrate!

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Darrian Wright

Darrian Wright is the social media manager at Pluralsight. She loves tech, food and the Internet.