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Microsoft® Powerpoint® History

PowerPoint was originally developed by Bob Gaskins, a former Berkeley Ph.D. student who envisioned an easy-to-use presentation program that would manipulate a string of slides. In 1984, Gaskins joined a failing Silicon Valley software firm called Forethought and hired a software developer, Dennis Austin. Their prototype program was called "Presenter", but was changed to PowerPoint to avoid a trademark problem.

PowerPoint 1.0 was released in 1987 for the Apple Macintosh. It ran in black and white, generating text-and-graphics pages that a photocopier could turn into overhead transparencies.

Later in 1987, Forethought and PowerPoint were purchased by Microsoft Corporation for $14 million. In 1988 the first Windows and DOS versions were produced. Since 1990, PowerPoint has been a standard part of the Microsoft Office suite of applications.

The 2002 version, part of the Office XP Professional suite and also available as a stand-alone product, provides features such as comparing and merging changes in presentations, the ability to define animation paths for individual shapes, pyramid/radial/target and Venn diagrams, multiple slide masters, a "task pane" to view and select text and objects on the clipboard, password protection for presentations, automatic "photo album" generation, and the use of "smart tags" allowing people to quickly select the format of text copied into the presentation.

Being part of Microsoft Office has allowed PowerPoint to become the world's most widely used presentation program. As Microsoft Office files are often sent from one computer user to another, arguably the most important feature of any presentation software -- such as Apple's Keynote, or Impress -- has become the ability to open PowerPoint files. However, because of PowerPoint's ability to embed content from other applications through OLE, some kinds of presentations become highly tied to the Windows platform, meaning that even PowerPoint on e.g. Mac OS cannot always successfully open its own files originating in the Windows version. This has led to a movement towards open standards, such as PDF and OASIS.
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