Dennis Austin, co-creator of the ubiquitous if not quite universally-loved presentation software PowerPoint, is dead at 76. With Robert Gaskins, Austin developed the software for Forethought, which led Microsoft to buy the company so that it could include the app in its core Office suite. Though many know Austin's magnum opus from long and perhaps unnecessary workplace meetings, PowerPoint has its fans, including David Byrne:
There's a lot of criticism of PowerPoint" — for encouraging users to do things in a particular way and discouraging them from other things, such as putting more than seven bullet points on a slide, he acknowledged. "But if you can't edit it down to seven, maybe you should think about talking about something else." PowerPoint restricts users no more than any other communication platform, he asserted, including a pencil: "When you pick up a pencil you know what you're getting — you don't think, 'I wish this could write in a million colors.'"…
I've been playing with oldschool apps lately, and I'm often struck by how much more pleasurable to use early versions of apps like Photoshop and Word are. Adding features, redesigning around the features, rebuilding UIs around newer versions of operating systems… that's why these apps end up becoming headaches. They stop facilitating the work of users to instead meet the conceptual priorities of organizations.
The Macintosh Repository has the original app and some of the contemporaneous ads and product photos.