The Start of Something Big
February 1, 1975: Microsoft Gets it First Customer
Bill Gates and Paul Allen sell their newly-completed Altair BASIC to MITS. At this point, Microsoft is based in Albuquerque New Mexico with their first client and this version of BASIC is the first programming language available for a personal computer.
Paul Allen and Bill Gates, childhood friends with a passion in computer programming . . .
. . . were seeking to make a successful business utilizing their shared skills. The January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics featured Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems’s (MITS) Altair 8800 microcomputer.
Allen noticed that they could program a BASIC interpreter for the device; after a call from Gates claiming to have a working interpreter, MITS requested a demonstration. Since they didn’t actually have one, Allen worked on a simulator for the Altair while Gates developed the interpreter. Although they developed the interpreter on a simulator and not the actual device, the interpreter worked flawlessly when they demonstrated the interpreter to MITS in Albuquerque, New Mexico in March 1975; MITS agreed to distribute it, marketing it as Altair BASIC.
They officially established Microsoft on April 4, 1975, with Gates as the CEO. Allen came up with the original name of “Micro-Soft,” as recounted in a 1995 Fortune magazine article. In August 1977 the company formed an agreement with ASCII Magazine in Japan, resulting in its first international office, “ASCII Microsoft”. The company moved to a new home in Bellevue, Washington in January 1979.