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Key dates and events in Microsoft's history

Reuters

NEW YORK — Microsoft Corp offered to buy Yahoo Inc, the popular Web portal, for $44.6-billion in cash and stock, seeking to join forces against Google Inc. in what would be the biggest Internet deal since the Time Warner-AOL merger.

Microsoft offered to buy Yahoo for $31 per share, a 62-per-cent premium over Yahoo's previous closing stock price.

The following are some key facts about Microsoft:

  • 1968: Eighth-grader William "Bill" Gates first introduced to computers and programming languages. Gates and schoolmate, Paul Allen, were inspired by an article in Popular Electronics magazine about the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, to develop a version of the Basic programming language for the PC.
  • 1973: Gates goes to Harvard University, where he lived down the hall from Steve Ballmer, now Microsoft's chief executive officer.
  • 1975: 19-year-old Gates drops out of Harvard and co-founds Microsoft with Allen.
  • 1980: International Business Machines Corp chooses Microsoft to write the operating system for the IBM personal computer, introduced in 1981.
  • 1985: Microsoft launches Windows 1.0, the first version of the popular operating system.
  • 1986: Microsoft went public on March 13 at $21 per share.
  • 1986: Microsoft moves to corporate campus in Redmond, Washington.
  • 1989: Microsoft introduces the earliest version of its Office software.
  • Gates founds stock photography house Corbis, which he controls.
  • 1994: Gates married Melinda French.
  • 1997: Microsoft acquires Hotmail, a free Web-based e-mail service co-founded by Sabeer Bhatia.
  • 2000: Gates and wife found the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a charitable organization.
  • 2001: Microsoft enters the gaming market in November with the North American release of its gaming console the Xbox and competes with Nintendo Co Ltd's Wii and Sony Corp's PlayStation.
  • 2002: Microsoft and partners launch the tablet PC.
  • 2003: The company starts paying dividends in January, with its first dividend at 8 cents per share.
  • 2004: Microsoft said it plans to return up to $75 billion to shareholders in dividends and stock buybacks.
  • 2006: Gates says will transition out of a day-to-day role in the company in July 2008.
  • 2006: Microsoft launches Zune portable music player in November — the first Microsoft-designed device in a market dominated by Apple Inc's iPod.
  • 2007: Launches Windows Vista, the latest version of its operating system in January.
  • 2007: Acquires aQuantive for $6 billion in May at a time when the online advertising industry was rapidly consolidating and was its biggest acquisition till the Yahoo bid.
  • 2007: Latest data as of June says Microsoft employs 78,565 people worldwide, of which more than half are from the United States. About 75 per cent of U.S. staff are men.
  • 2007: Harvard dropout Gates gets honorary law degree from the university in June.
  • 2008: Microsoft bids $44 billion for Yahoo.

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