18 amazing facts you might not know about Microsoft

Like it or not, Microsoft is everywhere.

From its origins as a super-hot startup in the 1970s to taking over the world in the 1990s to its current reinvention under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has a long and storied history right alongside the PC itself.

But how much do you really know about Microsoft? Here are 17 things you probably never knew about the biggest name in the PC business. 

If you bought one share of Microsoft stock for $21 at its March 13, 1986, IPO, it would be worth $14,990 today. That's a whopping 71,283% increase over 30 years.

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In fact, in 1987, at age 31, Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates became the youngest billionaire ever at the time. In 1995, he'd become the world's richest man with a net worth of $12.9 billion.

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Analysts estimate that Microsoft's explosive growth has made for at least two billionaires other than Gates, and as many as 12,000 millionaires. Like former CEO Steve Ballmer, who bought the LA Clippers for $2 billion in 2014.

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In 1988, Gates bought his 66,000 square foot 'Xanadu 2.0' estate in Medina, Washington for $2 million. It's said to be worth $123 million today.

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Microsoft cofounders Bill Gates and Paul Allen designed the company's first logo in under a day. The funky 'O' was called the 'blibbet.'

Famed producer and musician Brian Eno wrote the famous Windows startup sound, which debuted in Windows 95.

In fact, Windows 95 had a close relationship with music: The Rolling Stones' 'Start Me Up' was the operating system's official theme song, and the super-deluxe CD version came with the music video for Weezer's 'Buddy Holly.'

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Microsoft's first killer app was Microsoft Excel, which unseated the reigning spreadsheet champions Apple VisiCalc and Lotus 1-2-3. Without Excel, nothing else would have been possible.

Microsoft employees are expected to bring M&Ms to the office to share on their work anniversaries — the tradition is one pound for every year they've been with the company.


Microsoft holds 48,313 patents, including this one for its funky futuristic 'HoloLens' headset.

US Patent & Trademark Office

In the 2000s, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer often appeared in silly motivational videos for Microsoft employees, like this Austin Powers parody.


Microsoft and Apple actually worked together for years on software for the first Macintosh computer -- until Microsoft announced its competing Windows, which sparked a rivalry between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs that lasted for decades.

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In 1994, Timex and Microsoft designed the Datalink 150 watch together. It was the first-ever smartwatch, beating Apple by 12 years. It also wasn't that great.

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In 1997, Microsoft saved Apple from almost certain bankruptcy by making a $150 million investment. Steve Jobs announced it on stage at his first appearance as Apple CEO, to boos from the audience.

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Microsoft had early prototypes of lots of technologies, including real-time translation, tablet computers, and internet-connected TV gadgets. In fact, Microsoft coined the term 'tablet.' Most of those prototypes didn't make it to market, and the ones that did flopped.

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Microsoft released the Xbox games console in 2001. 'Xbox' is short for 'DirectX Box' -- DirectX is the crucial software on Microsoft Windows that makes intense game graphics possible.

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In 1995, Microsoft released Bob, a custom version of Windows that was aimed at making it easier for new users to get around their computer by making it look like a 'house' with 'rooms.' It was just weird, and got killed swiftly.


In 2010, Microsoft claimed that employees drink 23 million free beverages from the company cafeteria every year — mostly milk and orange juice.

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