Steve Ballmer shirtless in Lake Bill: A Microsoft time capsule unearthed

The Visitor’s Center at Microsoft Headquarters campus is pictured July 17, 2014 in Redmond, Washington.
The Visitor’s Center at Microsoft Headquarters campus is pictured July 17, 2014 in Redmond, Washington. (Image credit: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images for Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • There's a story that a long time ago, in a Redmond HQ lake far, far away, Steve Ballmer went swimming.
  • Though it's been written about, a visual account of the event has not been widely circulated... until now.
  • An ancient video of the swim in question has surfaced, solidifying its place in history.

Get ready to time travel back to 1988, when then-Microsoft VPs Steve Ballmer and Mike Maples took a swim in Lake Bill as a result of them both "losing" a bet with each other.

Though accounts of the story have circulated for a long time, such as the Seattle Times' report, we now have video evidence of the legendary Lake Bill event. Behold:

As can be seen in the video, the event starts well enough with a stirring rendition of the National Anthem (sung by Microsoft's very own acapella group "The Microtones," according to the description written by the video's uploader Rosie Perera) before devolving into madness as a crowd of Microsoft employees cheer and shout at Ballmer and Maples until the former discards his shirt and pants and dives into the pond known as "Lake Bill." Maples, not keen on stripping down, decides to follow Ballmer while still clad in his work clothes, sans suit jacket.

This event came about as a competition between two divisions of Microsoft to see which could earn more money for United Way.

It's rare that videos such as the above crop up online, so take this treasured time capsule of Microsoft history and cherish it. Microsoft wouldn't be where it is today without the two men in the video, and their famous swim is part of that storied history.

Robert Carnevale

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to