Microsoft Word Turns 18

From the Microsoft Press Release and interview with Peter Pathe, who just retired, about his flagship product, Microsoft Word.

With the release of Microsoft?s new generation of technologies in 2007 comes an interesting highlight about a venerable program. Microsoft Word for Windows, the flagship word-processing program so popular around the globe, is turning 18.

Word was originally the “Bravo” product, brought to Microsoft from Xerox Palo Alto Research Center by Charles Simonyi in 1981. The following year, Microsoft officially launched Word’s development team. When the first version was released in 1983, it was the first word-processing product to feature the ?WYSIWYG? design philosophy that what appears on screen should appear in print. It was the first program to feature line breaks, bold-faced and italic fonts on screen, and typeset-quality printing.

In its early days, Word strove for acceptance in a word-processing market that boasted more than 300 different titles on multiple platforms. In addition to versions for MS-DOS, Word was among the earliest applications to appear on OS/2 and Apple?s Macintosh computers. As early programs such as Electric Pencil gave way to WordStar, WordPerfect and other brands, Microsoft Word laid the foundation to become the no. 1 word-processing application worldwide.

The first version of Word for Windows was released in 1989, a full two years before WordStar and WordPerfect were delivered on the new Windows operating system. That two-year head start, together with Word?s decade of development and innovation ? as well as stellar product reviews ? helped catapult the program to the top slot in the early 1990s. By 1994, Word was able to claim a 90 percent share of the word-processing market, making it one of the most successful and most well-known software products in history.

While many credit Simonyi as the ?Father of Word,? Microsoft Corporate Vice President Peter Pathe has been the program?s legal guardian throughout the Windows Era. Pathe joined Microsoft in 1991 to manage the development of the TrueType font system, still regarded as a de facto standard in digital typeface engineering. In 1993, he took over the helm of the Word Business Unit in Microsoft?s Desktop Applications Division.

During the first four years under his management, revenues for the business more than tripled to over US$2 billion annually, and Microsoft Word surpassed all competitors to become the world’s most popular word processing software. Pathe is credited with introducing key innovations to the product line and with early recognition of the shift from print to online documents in the workplace.

In 1994, he helped make Word the first commercial word processor capable of browsing and editing documents directly from the World Wide Web. In 1995, a single version of Word replaced the many individual language versions previously shipped. This achievement, along with native support of UNICODE character sets and device-independent page layout, enabled users to share e-mail and word processing documents online around the world.

This month, Word is launching as Microsoft Office Word 2007, and will be available along with Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office suites for consumers and small businesses Jan. 30.

PressPass took the opportunity to talk with Pathe, who recently announced his retirement, about his flagship product, how it became so successful, and what he?s excited about with the Jan. 30 launch of Microsoft Office 2007. Source: Microsoft PressPass

Go read the rest of the article, I did not include any quotes of the interview, but you get a good perspective of the man who started Word.