Microsoft: Happy 36th birthday!

The company's story is an important part of Americana. But how much do you really know about it?

Microsoft was founded on April 4, 1975, as a partnership between Bill Gates and Paul Allen. The company's history is an embedded part of Americana. Its leaders are household names. Its products grace just about every household in the land. It's story is the stuff of American legend and myth (a scrappy startup that turned into an international powerhouse).

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But how much do you really know about the legendary software maker? Here's a quiz to test you. (Answers can be found on page 2 of this article.)

1. In what city and state was Microsoft founded?

a. Bellevue, Wash.

b. Redmond, Wash.

c. Albuquerque, N.M

d. Tucson, Ariz.

2. How old were Bill Gates and Paul Allen when they founded Microsoft?'

a. Gates was 19. Allen was 22.

b. Gates was 17; Allen was 26.

c. Gates was 24; Allen was 30.

d. Gates was 26; Allen was 19.

3. On November 2, 2001, Microsoft and the Department of Justice came to an agreement on the DOJ's antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft. What was the product that originally sparked the lawsuit?

a. DOS

b. Excel

c. Internet Explorer

d. Windows

4. In what year did Steve Ballmer join Microsoft?

a. 1990

b. 2000

c. 1965

d. 1980

5. What year was the flagship Windows 3.0 released?

a. 1984

b. 2000

c. 1988

d. 1990


1. C. Microsoft was founded in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It didn't move to Washington until 1979 (Bellevue). It moved to its Redmond HQ's in 1986.

2. A. The teenaged Gates was paired with a bushy-bearded Allen. Gates was only 19 but looked like he was 15. Allen was 22 but looked about 35.

3. C. Internet Explorer was the cause for the DOJ case against Microsoft in a case that began in 1998. Not only was it argued that bundling IE for free with Windows gave it an unfair advantage in the browser market, but that Microsoft fiddled with Windows to make IE perform better than third-party browsers. After extensions, government oversight of Microsoft as a result of the case is set to expire in May.

4. D. Steve Ballmer joined Microsoft in 1980 in an executive operations role. He was responsible for personnel, finance, and legal areas of the business. Although he became CEO in 2000, Bill Gates didn't retire from day-to-day operations until 2008, so Ballmer has only had solo reign of the company since that time. In 1980, Microsoft had year-end sales of $8M and 40 employees.

5. D. Windows 3.0 was released in 1990 and was the first wildly successful version of Windows. This version of Windows was the first to be pre-installed on hard drives by PC-compatible manufacturers. Two years later, Microsoft would release Windows 3.1. Together, these two versions of Windows would sell 10 million copies in their first two years. When Windows 95 was to launch in 1995, people stood in lines to buy their copy.

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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