Founded on April 4, 1975, by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Microsoft has grown to be an $86.8 billion company with nearly 130,000 employees worldwide. After moving headquarters to Bellevue, Washington in 1979, its innovation and massive growth became a driving force of technology and development throughout the Seattle area.
By 1985, Microsoft’s sales surpassed $140 million, and by 1995, it was the world’s most profitable corporation. At that point, Allen and Gates were billionaires, and thousands of their employees were millionaires.
As Microsoft grew throughout the late 1990s, it inspired many employees to strike out on their own, and develop other tech companies. A few Seattle-area companies that owe their origins to Microsoft and investments from Paul Allen are RealNetworks, AttachmateWRQ and InfoSpace.
Microsoft was truly the Amazon of its time, serving as the catalyst for the creation of a whole new tech industry.
In addition to contributing to the growth of Seattle’s science and technology scene, Microsoft also took the lead in contributing to public works in the area, donating software to many schools and nonprofits.
Similarly, Paul Allen was an active participant and influential force in Seattle politics. He created a voter initiative to build the Seattle Commons, a large park in South Lake Union and the Cascade District, and offered to contribute his own money to fund a security force for the park. Unfortunately, the initiative failed.
Instead of a park, Allen managed to secure funding for a football stadium for the Seattle Seahawks through a successful statewide ballot initiative, in addition to founding the Experience Music Project on the grounds of Seattle Center.
Through its massive growth, and the riches of its founders, Microsoft transformed Seattle from a small city on a bay to a leader in technology and science.