This story’s a modern day fairytale, the stuff of legends. One nerd who wrote some code which ended up impacting the whole wide world — before even the Internet was up and running!
That’s the story of Bill Gates and Microsoft’s first truly user-friendly operating system — Windows 1.0. Without it, there would be no desktop computers, and all that we take for granted in this digital world of ours wouldn’t have existed.
On November 10, 1983, Bill Gates — Microsoft’s president and board chairman — held a posh event in New York City. The main attraction at this event was an operating system with a simple and intuitive graphical user interface. This was the Windows 1.0.
Considering what existed in terms of OS functionality at the time — which wasn’t much, to be honest, if you look at the command-based MS DOS — Windows 1.0’s graphical user interface was a breath of fresh air. It had dropdown menus, tiled windows, even mouse support and multitasking with several apps. For the first time, it proved to people that operating systems could be simple enough to be used by non-geeks, too. The rest, as they say, is history.
On that note, here are some interesting historical facts about Windows 1.0…
No, Bill Gates didn’t come up with the ‘Windows’ name
He wanted to call the new graphical operating system ‘Interface Manager’. I know right? What was Bill Gates smoking?! Luckily Rowland Hanson, a Microsoft marketing wizard at the time, thought along the same lines and convinced Gates to rename the OS to ‘Windows’. Phew!
What Bill Gates said about Windows 1.0 in 1983
“Windows provides unprecedented power to users today and a foundation for hardware and software advancements of the next few years. It is unique software designed for the serious PC user, who places high value on the productivity that a personal computer can bring.” This line from Gates was included in the original press material for the Microsoft operating system.
Windows 1.0 had insane hardware requirement
Windows 1.0 demanded a daunting 256KB of RAM, a graphics adapter, either two floppy drives or a hard drive. Don’t laugh but these were astronomical requirements for a PC sold in the mid-1980s.
How much did Windows 1.0 cost in 1983
At the time it was revealed by Bill Gates, Windows 1.0 had a price tag of US $99. Seems like a lot, doesn’t it? Wrong! Personal computers were an expensive hobby at the time, and Microsoft’s Windows wanted to be the cost-effective, value-for-money alternative to the likes of Apple’s Lisa and Visi On against whom Microsoft was competing with.
Windows 1.0 came with all these cool applications
It had a notepad application, calendar, a clock that looked like the real thing. It came with a terminal application to enter DOS commands, a dedicated file manager, and Windows Write — a precursor to WordPad. A reversi game and Windows Paint was also included. No support for Microsoft Word or Excel came till much later.