Looking Back on the Birth of PowerPointJonathan Berntsen
It’s hard to imagine life without the comforts of modern technology that people know today: smartphones, 24/7 Internet access, computers that basically provide anything and everything with the push of a few buttons, and the like. Now, you’d think that innovation is an everyday occurrence, but that wasn’t the case in the mid-1900s, especially for businesses.
Back in the early 60s, Roger Appeldorn invented the first overhead projector. It had a simple principle of using light reflected upon mirrors to display data printed on transparencies (a.k.a. foil or viewgraph), paper-sized sheets of cellophane. The bulky instrument became a mainstay in meeting rooms, but the processes to create one sheet of transparency were tedious and time-consuming (inkjet printing was still a new thing). If not printed, then presenters would handwrite data to be projected on the transparencies. That is, until the 90s. What happened?
Microsoft PowerPoint happened.
Its revolutionary and innovative approach to creating presentations gave it an edge over its more than thirty competitors. Its timing with the booms of both the Apple and Windows operating systems—primitive as they were—cemented its growth. And its fundamental function hosted other uses it wasn’t intended for, like classroom operations and simple public speaking exercises (and not-so-simple ones like the TED Talks). Yes, it’s that flexible.
Today, PowerPoint is at its latest version: PowerPoint 2016, as part of the Microsoft bundle Office 2016. More than two decades since the first version was published, PowerPoint is at its prime—with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Although it has seen its share of competitors, the presentation designer software remains as strong as ever, if not stronger.
So how did this juggernaut of a program come to fruition? How about a teaser? For starters, did you know that PowerPoint didn’t start as an internal project of Microsoft? The following infographic will take you through decades across the technological history to the go-to presentation software that is—and will always be—Microsoft PowerPoint.
Akanegbu, Anuli. “Vision of Learning: A History of Classroom Projectors.” EdTech Magazine. February 28, 2013. www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2013/02/vision-learning-history-classroom-projectors
“Life Before the Web – Running a Startup in the 1980’s.” The Zamzar Blog. July 13, 2016. blog.zamzar.com/2016/07/13/life-before-the-web-running-a-startup-in-the-1980s