How PowerPoint was created

In 1987, a company called Forethought, founded by two ex-Apple marketing managers, rolled out PowerPoint and business meetings have never been the same since. Over at IEEE Spectrum, David C. Brock tells the story:

(Robert Gaskins) envisioned the user creating slides of text and graphics in a graphical, WYSIWYG environment, then outputting them to 35-mm slides, overhead transparencies, or video displays and projectors, and also sharing them electronically through networks and electronic mail. The presentation would spring directly from the mind of the business user, without having to first transit through the corporate art department.

While Gaskins’s ultimate aim for this new product, called Presenter, was to get it onto IBM PCs and their clones, he and (Dennis) Austin soon realized that the Apple Macintosh was the more promising initial target. Designs for the first version of Presenter specified a program that would allow the user to print out slides on Apple’s newly released laser printer, the LaserWriter, and photocopy the printouts onto transparencies for use with an overhead projector...

In April 1987, Forethought introduced its new presentation program to the market very much as it had been conceived, but with a different name. Presenter was now PowerPoint 1.0—there are conflicting accounts of the name change—and it was a proverbial overnight success with Macintosh users. In the first month, Forethought booked $1 million in sales of PowerPoint, at a net profit of $400,000, which was about what the company had spent developing it. And just over three months after PowerPoint’s introduction, Microsoft purchased Forethought outright for $14 million in cash.

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Lincoln's Gettysburg PowerPoint, delivered 150 years ago today

For those who missed Abraham Lincoln's PowerPoint presentation in Gettysburg 150 years ago today, he kindly posted his slides online, along with rough speaker notes. "The Gettysburg Powerpoint Presentation" (Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!)

(And here's Peter Norvig on why he created this Web classic way back in 2000: "The Making of the Gettysburg PowerPoint Presentation") Read the rest