Where did Microsoft get its name from?

The company Microsoft is certainly known to many. But do you actually know what the brand name means and how this word came about in the first place? We explain where the name Microsoft comes from.

The technology company Microsoft is also known to laymen. After all, all those who use a Windows operating system or have used programs such as Photoshop or Word have come into contact with Microsoft. And of course, Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder and one of the richest men in the world, is also very well known.

But where did Microsoft get its name from and what does it mean?

The beginnings: Software for minicomputers

It’s probably hard to imagine a technology world without Microsoft. But compared to other companies, the group, which was founded in 1975, is comparatively young. At that time, there was already a microcomputer called Altair 8800. But the world’s first minicomputer lacked one thing above all: a user-friendly programming language.

This is exactly what Bill Gates and his partner Paul Allen designed for Altair. In other words, Gates and Allen developed software for microprocessors, or micro-software. And that’s exactly what the name Microsoft is based on.

In fact, it took a while for this to become the official name of the company.

How Microsoft Got Its Name

At first, Gates and Allen spoke of themselves as: “Paul Allen and Bill Gates doing business as Micro-Soft.” Translated, this means something like: Paul Allen and Bill Gates do business as micro-soft.

In a 1995 interview with Forbes magazine, Gates said, “I can’t remember why we wrote it with a hyphen and a capital ‘S.’ We added a line of code to our first product, Micro-Soft BASIC.”

Nevertheless, in their early days, the two founders also thought about other names, such as “Outcorporated Inc.” or “Unliminted Ltd.”, although these suggestions seem to have been joking.

That’s why “Allen & Gates” was out of the question

“Allen & Gates” was also in the room for a while as a possible name. But the two ultimately decided against it, as Allen explains in the Forbes interview.

“Because other companies like DEC and IBM weren’t named after personalities either, they would have a longevity beyond their founders.” And that’s exactly what Allen and Gates wanted for their company.

In addition, the name sounded too much like a consulting agency or law firm. So they ended up with the most “obvious” name choice, Microsoft.

“We had chosen the name Microsoft before we even had a company,” says Bill Gates in the same interview. In fact, it took until 1981 for Microsoft to officially become the company.

Microsoft Name: Why complicated when it’s also easy?

The success, especially with Windows, has hardly stopped since then. In fiscal year 1996, Microsoft generated sales of two billion US dollars. In 2009, a recession year, sales were already $14 billion.

Perhaps Microsoft’s naming strategy will also contribute to its success. Since the first name Microsoft, the company has continuously relied on simple, pictorial terms. That’s why the word processor is called “Word” and the operating system is called “Windows”.

As simple as these names may sound, they are just as easy to keep. No wonder Microsoft is familiar to everyone.

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