A trip down memory lane: 30 years since Windows was announced

On November 10, 1983, it all started… not with a big bang, but a whisper that defined the industry in the years to come.

Yes, thirty years ago, Bill Gates announced ‘Interface Manager’ at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. The next-generation operating system would provide a graphical user interface (GUI) and a multitasking environment for IBM computers. Windows might have been released under the original name of Interface Manager if marketing whiz, Rowland Hanson had not convinced Bill Gates that Windows was the far better name!

Microsoft - November 10, 1983

The press kit for the November 10, 1983 event

DOS operating system garnered positive response in the industry, Bill Gates knew that a GUI for IBM computers would be very successful. Apple's Lisa computer came with a stunning graphical user interface, which was followed by Macintosh later. Microsoft promised that the new product would be on the shelf by April 1984, but the delay had skeptics calling it 'vaporware'.

Windows 1.0 was finally shipped on November 20, 1985, two years after the initial announcement. It came with drop-down menus, scroll bars, icons, and dialog boxes. You could switch among several programs without having to quit and restart each one. Windows 1.0 shipped with several programs, including MS‑DOS file management, Paint, Windows Writer, Notepad, Calculator, and a calendar, card file, and clock. There was even a game—Reversi!

Windows 1.0

Here’s an actual Windows 1.0 commercial featuring their newly acquired sales guy, Steve Ballmer. Like Windows, he too went a long way.

I wonder if the name ‘Interface Manager’ would’ve stuck. Microsoft is often ridiculed for their heavy, enterprise-like branding (they’ve corrected that in recent times with Xbox, Zune, Bing, Surface, et al), but an Interface Manager PC would’ve been a different level. I’m sure you would be required to wear a business suit to login! And what if that would've spread across the product lines... Interface Manager Phone, maybe?

The first Windows version that I used was Windows 3.1, and this post is typed on a Surface with Windows 8.1. When was your first tryst with Windows?

Abhishek Baxi