Earlier this month, the Microsoft Corporation celebrated its 40th anniversary. Co-founder Bill Gates recently sent out an email to the company to mark the occasion. Reading his message sparked me to think about how Microsoft has impacted my life on a personal level:
My parents brought home our first Windows PC in 1995. It had all the awesome software of the day: Windows 95, Office 95, Doom, and AOL(!) blazing through our 28.8k dial-up modem. It was both amazing and super-slow.
A few years later when I graduated from high school, I started to become curious about computers as a career path, and used almost all of my graduation money for my own machine - a black Compaq tower running Windows 98 with a Pentium II processor and a gigantic 17" monitor. She was a beauty; envy of all the other nerds I knew. It was top-of-the-line ... for a few months; then the Pentium III came out. So I resold the machine to my parents to replace that original from '95. I used the money to buy some parts and built my own machine, then installed Windows 2000 from scratch. Now I was hooked.
I began studying for my A+ Certification, and took a couple of programming classes using Visual Basic 5. Not long after, I started my first professional job at a small manufacturing company doing data entry and help desk support for their Windows workstations. After a few months, the one programmer on staff who was in charge of building ERP system add-ons using VB 6 and MS Access resigned.
Guess who was offered the position? 13 years later, I'm still coding away and can honestly count myself as one of the fortunate few who has a great job I really enjoy.
If you've been involved in IT for a good part of the past 20+ years, I surmise you have a similar story to share. Technology workers as a group have been regularly critical of Microsoft during that time, often for good reason. However, many of us have well-paying jobs we really like based heavily on being experts in Microsoft's technologies. I don't think we stopped often enough, myself included, and said a "thank you" for all the good things they've done. This quote from Harvey Mackay says it better than I can:
"None of us got to where we are alone. Whether the assistance we received was obvious or subtle, acknowledging someone's help is a big part of understanding the importance of saying thank you."
So happy anniversary, Microsoft. Thanks for the life-changing innovations of the past 40 years, and the opportunities of the future. I can't wait to see where the next 40 years will take us.