Childhood friends Bill Gates and Paul Allen launch Microsoft along with the computer language Altair Basic, the first aimed at personal computers.
IBM awards a historic contract to Microsoft, which leads to the creation of the MS-DOS operating system, which will become the dominant PC platform. Ballmer joins as the 30th employee.
Paul Allen quits Microsoft.
Launch of Windows, a graphically based version of MS-DOS.
Microsoft’s IPO makes Gates one of the world’s richest individuals.
Launch of Microsoft Office. US antitrust officials begin an investigation of Microsoft as a monopoly, which leads to a decade of legal battles.
Microsoft moves to adapt to the Internet, launches Windows 95.
Ballmer becomes CEO. The European Commission launches its own antitrust case against Microsoft.
Microsoft settles its US antitrust case, averting a breakup. The Xbox game console is launched.
Gates exits the day-to-day operations of Microsoft to concentrate on his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Bing search is launched.
Microsoft launches its first smartphone operating system, Windows Phone.
Microsoft completes its acquisition of the popular messaging service Skype for $8.5 billion.
Windows 8 is released, along with Surface, the new Microsoftbranded tablet. Microsoft buys the Yammer social network for $1.2 billion.
Ballmer announces he will retire by mid-2014